Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New nickname... HBL

This week has been the longest week ever!!  We thought it would go by fast because of all the events happening this week, but it is like going on a vacation and coming home having to go straight back to work ... not too fun.  Just glad we made it through and can look forward to going to the temple this Wednesday.  Here's what went down this week:

Volleyball:  For P-day, I had to go to the doctors to check out a rash I've been having due to the cold, dry weather here in Alaska.  I am used to humidity and I now need to change my laundry detergent, body soap, and use a loofah to exfoliate. Hopefully it should be gone in a couple of weeks.  We went to the church and played volleyball with the elders.  One of the elders is super tall and every time he jumps up to spike the ball, I duck and cover my face.  It is a bit scary to be on the opposing team of him.

Dead Dove:  We were visiting with Sister Groff and Sister Williams and I got extremely tired when we were visiting with her.  I look over at one point and see one of her doves lying down on it's belly.  I ask her if it was dead, but she couldn't see what I was referring to.  I look at Sister Williams and she gives me this look like "don't say anything".  We left shortly after that.  That is gonna be hard to visit her again once she realizes one of her 8 birds is dead.  She said it was just lying on top of her egg to protect it, but this bird was lying completely flat with it's eyes opened ...

Jake the Pug:  Sister Williams LOVES pugs.  Her pug she owns at home is named Otis. She talks about him all the time.  We visit with Bobby, the man who is blind and is going deaf, regularly.  We were outside on his porch visiting with him and all of a sudden Sister Williams says, "that's a pug" and runs over to get this pug that was outside playing with this other dog.  The pug named Jake and his yorkie named Bella came and ran around us allowing us to pet them.  We visited with Bobby sometime later this week and Sister Williams was like "where's my pug?".  So funny.

Zone Conference:  We had zone conference this week combined with Palmer Zone.  It is weird that I am in Wasilla now, but started my mission off in Palmer.  It was a good zone conference.  It was held in Wasilla, but drove to Palmer for lunch because of mis-communication.  While there, people's iPads were updating and all of a sudden the camera app was gone. Everyone was freaking out.  Some other missionaries and I left our iPads on airplane mode for the meeting so we weren't affected by the update right then.  Later when we arrived back in Wasilla we find that the update fixed itself and everything went back to normal.  I was still cautious to turn my airplane mode off for a while.

Exchanges:  We had exchanges with the STLs in Colony in the Palmer zone right after zone conference.  Sister Johnson, who I was paired up with, was sick, so she was a bit not herself while on the exchange.  The next day we had lunch with all the sisters at Taco Bell for Sister Williams 15-month click day and a bishop of the singles ward was there and paid for all of our lunches. #Blessed.
Baby Everything:  So one day we visited with a less active and she had baby chicks that she showed us and then we visited with another less-active family right afterwards who had a bunch of little ducklings they ordered online.  Their pigs also had piglets that we got to hold.  So many baby animals we held that day.  Yesterday, though, we were invited to a non-members' home whom we helped clean their house when they were moving to give us and some of the elders a pizza party for helping. They had this teacup pig who was the sweetest thing ever.  Her name is Coco and I held her for over an hour.  I was talking to Sister Williams that it was like practice for holding a baby because my arms started to hurt.  She says that I'm too baby hungry and gave me the nickname BHL:  Baby Hungry Lady.  I do want kids, but can I wait until I'm married?  Of course.  They are just so darn cute and we see tons of kids on the mission visiting families.

Monopoly:  Sister Williams and I like to play monopoly when we come home after the day and this week she kicked my butt back-to-back nights.  I'd like to think it's because I have taught her well as to why she is winning.  Though, I think the luck of the deck is just not in my favor because I ALWAYS land on her property and she never lands on mine.  Playing is a big stress reliever before bed.

Bobby Photo Shoot:  Bobby is a retired bull fighter.  Weird to think that, but he lived in Texas for a while and knows exactly where I live back home and is more Texan than I am.  He collects a lot of rodeo shirts from all the years past and gives one to each of his missionaries who he comes to know.  We decided to take pictures with him wearing them and some of his cowboys hats.  He is so funny and is awesome to see him be so self-reliant, even though he is blind.

Stolberg:  We visit Brother Stolberg every week and we have the weirdest conversations.  Last week we talked about spiders and snakes.  I'm surprised I didn't have nightmares from all the crazy things spiders and snakes do.  This week's convo topic was on pregnancy.  His daughter is almost due and we talked about when his wife was pregnant with her, they thought she was a boy the whole time, but she wasn't.  It turned out well that it led into a spiritual thought on Jesus Christ's birth and how special it is that our Heavenly Father is so aware of us and knows and loves each child.

Teach when you find:  While over at this non-member's home for the pizza party, we mainly were just visiting with everyone.  I was holding Coco and eating pizza but then the wife started asking us some questions about the church.  An hour or so later, her and I were talking and I was trying my best to answer her questions very basically and by the Spirit.  Long story short, we are going to start teaching her because she requested us sisters.  Sorry elders.  Though, they knew this family lived there this whole transfer and have done nothing about it.  I am just glad that she felt the spirit and wants to learn more.  I love teaching the gospel!  The thought of teaching seminary and institute when I go home keeps pressing on my mind.  As of right now I think I'll pursue that course.

This gospel is not just a 3-hour commitment for members of the Church.  It is a lifestyle.  We live what we preach.  No one is perfect so don't judge the Church from your view of some of it's members.  The Church is true; the people are imperfect.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden 

Monday, April 17, 2017

We Love "Egging" People

Happy Easter !!!  I love having holidays, but not until my mission did I realize all the candy/food holidays there are:  it starts with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, and then Easter.  We aren't out of the clear until the summer.  The last six months on the mission, missionaries try to start losing the weight they gained. They term it "6 months to sexy".  My last 6 months includes the first three holidays mentioned ... yeah, so I won't be losing any weight.  Here are the highlights from the week:

Break-up season:  Alaskans, and I'm sure other people do too, call this time of year when the snow melts "break-up".  We have had a pretty bad winter (meaning there was a lot of snow compared to years past) so we thought break-up season would take longer but it really has flown by and my shoes aren't too ruined from the excess mud. We have been able to go OYMing (opening your mouth) so we have walked along the major roads in our area stopping to talk to anyone in our path. Members at church comment how they like seeing the missionaries out working.

Awkward: Every missionary is drawn to awkward moments all the time.  My trainer, Sister Nield, would always say "embrace the awkward, love the crazies".  I have taught Sister Williams the sign for awkward so we sign that to each other all the time (American Sign Language).  It is 53 degrees outside and Alaskan men go shirtless all over town.  You would think they thought it was 90 degrees.  It's just hot in opposition to the negative degree weather it has been for our norm this winter.

Monopoly:  So Sister Williams and I love playing games so we have been playing cards or monopoly at night before bed.  The game doesn't last too long because I end up winning really fast so now I'm teaching her how to be better.  During my studies one morning I was reading in 2 Nephi 15.  There is a verse Isaiah writes which, with the help of other scriptural manuals to be better understand, basically is a warning to landowners who buy up all of the property of the poor and that The Lord taught people not to do this in ancient Israel.  It was funny to me how it kind of applied to our game of monopoly.
Egging:  So mainly for Christmas or Valentine's Day people do some sort of heart attacking to people as a way to be nice and give others something for the holiday. Well Sister Williams came up with the idea to do the same for Easter and we, together, thought of "egging" people. We shopped at Target Monday in their $1 Spot section and got a lot of things to put in a small Easter basket to leave on members doors.  We also put cut-out eggs on the door to kind of decorate it.  Some members said they liked it so much that they decided to "egg" their neighbors to pass it on.

Easter:  Late Saturday night some members stopped by and gave us each Easter baskets.  Sunday and I ate a lot of candy for lunch.  We had Easter dinner with a recent convert and soon-to-be member who fed us lamb!  Everything was so good but we were stuffed when we left. We visited with a member and his now fiance' who told us the story of how he proposed three times.  We got more food being with them which after that I was about to burst open with the amount of food we had that day. They are adorable and we are so happy for them.  Everyone seemed to have a really good Easter celebration with their families and it is wonderful that we have this opportunity to really reflect on the Savior and what His resurrection means for us. Because He lives we will live too.  There is hope for us now on earth in the life to come.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden   

Sunday, April 16, 2017

"Next time you'll leave in handcuffs"

This week has been the fastest transfer week I've had on the mission.  This is my fourth official area, but my third major one. So much has happened when you meet so many different people.  Here are some highlights of each day:
Monday:  P-day was spent shopping all day and we had a bonfire mainly for an elder who was going home.  In the mission it is custom for elders at the 6th month increments in their mission to burn something.  For example at 6 months, a tie is burnt, 12 months a shirt is burnt, 18 months a pair of pants is burnt, and at 24 months right before you go home an entire suit is burnt. By that point the elders are sick and tired of their suits that they aren't willing to take them home.  For sisters, it is a bit different.  Because we are only out for 18 months, our increments are different.  It is big when you hit 6 months, 9 months (our half way mark), 12 (our year mark) and 18 months when we go home.  There is nothing set in stone for what we burn.  Because the elders were burning stuff, I thought for my 9th month mark, I would burn a skirt I am tired of wearing.  It was a lot of fun.


Tuesday:  Transfer day.  We drove up to Anchorage in 3 hours and were supposed to be in Wasilla by 1:15pm, which didn't happen because there was a delay in flights from sisters flying in from Fairbanks, and you know how girls love to talk.  When we got to Wasilla, we had dinner with some members and then visited with a family who wanted to feed us cake.  I was exhausted by this point with all the traveling.  This tiredness lasted all week getting use to things.  Our beds are sooo squeaky.  We went to the store the next day to get WD40, but it turns out the screws just needed to be tightened so it was better the next night.  I can't believe Sister Williams slept on these squeaky beds for 3 months not doing anything about it. How could she sleep?
Wednesday:  We had a lot of meetings today.  After visiting with a less active, we went to talk to our ward mission leader and later that evening we talked to our Bishop. There are a ton of investigators and less active we are working with, which is wonderful because I am so much happier when I am teaching the gospel.  Funny story that happened at dinner that day:  I love dogs and especially small dogs because I love holding them.  They have a tiny Yorkie.  Eventually the dog warmed up to me to let me pick her up.  Over dinner we were talking about how the owner next week is going to get the dog spayed.  Something happened to interest the dog to jump off me to go and see what was going on.  The second she jumped off, I saw blood on my arm.  It was so hilarious!!  I told them not to worry about it and that I thought it was noteworthy to go in my email home.
Thursday:  We visited with a couple of part member families who we are teaching for me to meet them and I am so excited for the work here.  We also visit a returning less active named Bobby who is blind and is really hard of hearing and will eventually go completely deaf.  He lives alone so we visit him and talk to him mainly on his front deck outside.  He is super funny and does a lot of wood working.  He makes these gum ball machines that look like faces that are adorable.  I asked if he'd make me one and he said he just needs some time. :)
Friday:  We got a call asking if we could help someone clean their house as they were getting ready to move.  We cleaned upstairs and had a lot of fun doing it.
Later we were trying by less actives and this one man opened the door and said, "how many times do I need to tell you to stop visiting us?" Apparently we aren't the best at putting "do not contact" on names we have.  It was funny for us not to laugh when he was getting angry at us.  He said, "Next time you will be leaving in handcuffs".  I don't know why people don't want to be apart of the Church sometimes, but all you can do is love everyone you come in contact with and move on to find those who are ready for us to teach.
Saturday:The Henson family wanted us to come over for lunch Saturday so we could teach their granddaughter about young women's. We had planned our lesson, but when we got there we realized that wouldn't do. Kemalie has been interested in the Church in the past, but right now just wants to "have fun".  This reminded me too much of Dominic before we began teaching him. Kids just need to realize that being a member of the Church is fun. Just because there are things we choose not to do doesn't mean we don't know how to have fun.  We decided to get to know her in a very informal way by playing a game of cards that she finds interest in.  We were there for a while, but if we hadn't none of what happened would have happened. While playing, she brought up a question about people dying and turning into animals. It was a perfect opportunity to teach about our beliefs of Resurrection. Afterwards Sister Williams shared a video about the Plan of Salvation found in our online pamphlets that really allowed her to understand better and ask further questions. After talking, she agreed to be taught more !!!  I smile from ear to ear after having lessons like that where it is guided solely by the Spirit.  I met Ruth Ann later, and she is a non member who doesn't want to join any church.  Slowly I think we'll find her concern and be able to show her that there is a need for religion and a true Church. She took us out to Red Robin for dinner which was awesome.
Sunday:  Brother Henson told the Bishop that I haven't introduced myself in any ward I have been in.  I usually do on fast Sunday's when I bare my testimony, but never invited up to tell the ward about me.  Bishop made sure that was arranged. Church was good and it is awesome to know that no matter where you move to or where you visit, the Church is the same everywhere; the difference is the change of people. Christ's Church is structured, and so is ours to where it is the same in every country. Why wouldn't Christ's Church be universal for all of Heavenly Father's children?  We got invited to a part member family who wanted us to eat some cheesecake they made.  Cheesecake?!  Oh, of course we'll be there for cheesecake.  They also invited the Henson's from the ward and their next door neighbor. 
It has been awesome to share the new Easter Initiative videos with members and non members.  This reason for the season of Easter is all about Christ.  Focusing on how Christ can bring us peace is how we gain that testimony that Christ really is our Savior. Here is a link to the website with the video:  https://www.mormon.org/?cid=HP_SU_9-4-2017_dMIS_fMORG_xLIDyL1-A_.

Make this Easter one focused on what's really important. 

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden    

Monday, April 3, 2017

I came down from Heaven

This week was a blur.  So much has happened.  First off, I am being transferred to Wasilla.  This is right next to Palmer (the place I started my mission), and are both called "the Valley" in Alaska.  I will be serving with a prior companion:  Sister Williams. I guess there is just more for each of us to learn from each other.  I am excited to move on to new adventures and start another chapter on my mission.  I will miss the members the most from the Soldotna Ward, as well as my companion, Sister Randall.
Here are some highlights from the week:

Lu La Roe:  So a less active in the ward we visited last week sells Lu La Roe clothing in her home.  We made an appointment to come back on a Monday to shop from her as a way in.  One of the members told us that missionaries in the past have tried getting in with her, but never were successful so it is great that she has let us in now twice.  She is super nice and very fun to be around, but deep down we can sense that she is not at this time interested in coming back to church.  It is heart breaking to see people resist the church for whatever reason.  Church is not meant to be a burden, but an uplift.  We assemble together to be surrounded by those who share our faith, to learn more about the gospel by reading scriptures, hearing from past conference talks and, most importantly, sharing our own personal experiences of how we gained a testimony about a principle which, as President Robinson would say, is "interacting to edify". The structure of the Church is restored just as how Christ set it up.  Organized religion is created from Christ Himself when He ministered on the earth, and it is made perfectly for members to help and support each other.

Stanley:  So our new investigator is a bit shy in person because he texts us all the time wanting us to come over and read scriptures.  We went a couple days in a row and it seems we need to take things very slowly with him.  He has a baptismal date which might need to be pushed back to make sure he comprehends what we are teaching him.  He is a bit forward with us via text.  We asked him if he read 3 Nephi 11, and his thoughts on it and he replied, "Just like you he came down from heaven and showed himself and I met you."  This isn't the first time people have shown attraction to us. We are 19 to 24-year old girls.  What do you expect?  We keep things very professional as we are missionaries and all we want to do is teach people the gospel.  We pray to have the Spirit to be with us to discern the intentions of investigators and if they are really committed to learning the gospel.  Stanley did attend all four sessions of General Conference at the Church this weekend and said he liked them.  One talk in particular given by Joaquin E. Costa shares his experience of why and how he joined the church.  His experience can be relevant to many who have or will join the Church.

Farm:  That day we helped with transplanting tomato plants in another greenhouse.  It is getting warmer outside.  This week's average was about 35 degrees and the last two days the high was 47 degrees.  Because of this the greenhouses get extra steamy. We were sweating when we left.  I figured I was getting transferred so I said goodbye to the people at the farm and will miss helping out with it.  It is mind boggling how Aby was able to accomplish all this work by herself for years!

Reindeer:  So Hara and Dan train reindeer.  Isn't that the coolest?!  They recently bought a new one which is pregnant and should have the calf any day now. The lady who sole her the reindeer said the baby will crawl out of the fence she has so we went to help her put up wire around the fence to keep the baby inside. The mother can't protect the baby if the mother is trapped inside the fence without the baby.  She was very grateful for our help.  I am going to miss teaching both Hara and Megan.  After a lesson we had with them this week about obedience and spiritual CPR, Hara said she felt invigorated, which would make any teacher proud.

General Conference:  This Conference was really great!  I had some questions in mind that I wanted answered and I truly feel that The Lord gives us answers through other people sometimes.  The talks were spot on and I love that even though we have heard some of these topics in depth before, there is still opportunities to learn something new.  I am glad we get to hear from our prophet and the living twelve apostles bi-annually.  Having the spirit so strongly testify to you what you need to improve on is rewarding and comforting to know God knows our lives and our trials and is giving revelation to His children all the time.

Sent from ALASKA!

Sister Shelley Willden

Have you spanked a moose yet?

So this week we have some great news!  We have a new investigator who is on date for baptism !!  This week has been very productive and great to see miracles happen. Here are some highlights from the week:  

Sea glass:  On Monday we drove out to Nikkiski, which is about a half hour drive to Hara and Megan's to make sea glass jewelry.  When we had taught them in the past they were working on making jewelry from recycled glass bottles.  They tumble the glass first, which breaks into smaller pieces and they they tape and image on it before sand blasting it.  It leaves an imprint of the image in the glass.  They look really cool and we had the opportunity for our P-day fun to make our own.

Stanley:  Some time after district meeting, we went out with McKinnley, one of our ward missionaries, to visit a guy Sister Randall and Sister Jackson gave a Book of Mormon to while on exchanges.  He couldn't meet with us then so I thought we'd try by someone else while we had McKinnley with us.  Stanley was one of the three people we gave a Book of Mormon to the first few weeks Sister Randall has been here. We have tried by him in the past but either he wasn't home or we didn't have a third female with us to go inside his house.  He was home thie time and said he forgot about the Book of Mormon.  We then asked if we could talk more about it with him.  We taught an overview of the Book of Mormon using the pictures in the front.  We came back a few days later and he has read up to Mormon, which is over halfway through the entire book.  We read with him 2 Nephi 31, and invited him to be baptized and he accepted.  He came to church on Sunday and he liked it a lot.  He talks more to us via text and one thing he asked us was if we have spanked a moose yet.  I died laughing. We have seen four moose this week alone, but no, we have not spanked a moose. :)

Service:  On Wednesday, we did two things of service.  In the morning we went to Bishop's Artoc and helped out there.  Afterwards they let us have clothes that aren't tagged that can fit in a grocery bag.  We got two outfits for one of our recent converts.  She showed up to church wearing one. :)  The other service was helping out with the farm.  While transplanting lettuce plants we had Jen and Caroline listen to a two segment talk by Jeffery R. Holland, a member of the twelve apostles.  He addresses misconceptions about our church in regards to how we view the Godhead and our beliefs about continuing revelation mainly with the Book of Mormon.  These two are some of my favorite talks and I encourage everyone to read them.  Here are the links:  https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/the-only-true-god-and-jesus-christ-whom-he-hath-sent?lang=eng&cid=email-shared and https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/04/my-words-never-cease?lang=eng&cid=email-shared

Less-Actives:  We have visited quite a few less actives this week.  Many think we are just coming by because we and the Ward want them to go to church.  This is partially true.  Most likely if you aren't going to church then you may be lacking in other spiritual nourishment's too like increasing your relationship with our Heavenly Father through prayer and gaining a better understanding of the gospel through scripture study.  The basics of saying your prayers, reading your scriptures, and going to church to renew your baptismal covenants are the foundation we must continue to incorporate in our lives to "endure to the end" and allow Jesus Christ's Atonement to render aid.  We help people see the need of spiritual nourishment in their lives that can help them overcome their trials and allow them to have happier lives.  The Lord never said this life would be easy, but He said it would be worth it.

Saturday:  On Saturday the Church sponsored a Family History Discovery Day at the church for anyone in the community to learn more about doing their family history. We invited Stanley to come and he came and stayed the entire time.  He asked if this happens every Saturday.  We told him this is just maybe a once-every-six-months event and he said he was so glad he came.  We helped him set up an account on familysearch.org and begin his family history research.  The talks at church the following day were on family history as well which was awesome.  After the event was over the Relief Society had a social prior to the broadcast of Women's Conference. This coming weekend is General Conference where the prophet and his apostles speak to the church as a whole over two days.  This is a time of spiritual overload and we receive guidance from a living prophet.  Anyone can watch the online feed on LDS.org or view it on BYU TV this Saturday and Sunday, 10am and 2pm (MDT).      

Sent from ALASKA!

Sister Shelley Willden

Jehovah Witnesses are like Unicorns

So this week we had a lot of stuff happen.

Monday we played spoons for a bit, but to make it more interesting, we placed the spoons across the cultural hall as we had to run for them. After a while we played basketball before dinner.  We had a later than usual dinner, so we went to this shop to get earrings made out of animal teeth I bought earlier and the lady was at first kinda guarded.  After we had expressed interest in her shop did she open up and her passion for her shop showed.  She even then brought up that she has Mormon family members on both sides of her family.  Sometimes it takes people seeing us being normal people and then talk about church related topics versus us coming across as preaching to them.

Tuesday we had interviews with President.  He and his wife drove down from Anchorage and said the drive was great because the roads were dry.  That is good news because we had planned to do exchanges with sisters serving in Anchorage later that week.  Later that night we had dinner with Dominic's family and a couple of members in our ward.  We went over the baptismal interview questions with Dominic right after.  He did really well and we are now working on him being baptized April 22nd.  The two members said that is the weekend for Time Out for Women and they won't be here.  The funniest thing is that Dominic was not wanting to change his date. We think he is just too shy to have many people at his baptism. :)

Wednesday we had zone conference.  So late last week we get a call from President early in the morning asking if we would present a training at zone conference.  We were to plan a training on the importance of using pamphlets in lessons.  We spent a lot of time coming up with the importance and how to make the role play the missionaries would do effective and incorporating some aspects of our training.  I think it went very well and was grateful for the opportunity to train with Sister Randall.  Normally the APs (Assistants to the President) take care of the computer logistics and give a training but they did neither.  I think because we are having zone conferences now every transfer, President is allowing others to share the responsibility and be a part of the conference.  Everything went really well and it was a time to see how we can improve and confirm things we are doing right.

Thursday we drove halfway to Anchorage to exchange with the STLs.  I went with Sister Johnson to Ocean View and Sister Jackson came to Soldotna with Sister Randall. I love exchange miracles.  We got in with a less active who we ended up talking to for two hours as she shared story after story about the hardships she has in her life.  By the end we committed her to take the lessons from the missionaries and testified again and again about the blessing of Christ's Atonement that can work in our lives. The other miracle happened during our dinner appointment.  The family we ate with was a family I visited before last exchange in Anchorage.  They are half way investigating.  Missionaries in the past have pushed baptism and it scared them from wanting to be taught.  The missionaries are now working on their relationship with them and taking things slow.  We read part of the Book of Mormon with them and they excepted the invitation to read the Book of Mormon once a week with the missionaries!  The miracles that happened in our area is tracting and giving out a Book of Mormon to someone.  We plan on following up this coming week with him.

Friday we had dinner with the members who own the farm we help out with on Wednesdays.  For St. Patrick's day they made us an Irish dinner:  corn beef and cabbage.  Two of their children with members of their family stopped by:  both less actives in our ward we can now potentially go and visit.  Driving for a long time and the sun now up longer zapping our energy makes us very tired.  Both Sister Randall and I were slap-happy tired that day.  We were saying some of the craziest things. Somehow we were talking about Jehovah Witness missionaries and she said "Jehovah Witnesses are like unicorns:  people talk about them but you never see one."  Story of my life.

Sunday was a good day.  We had miracle after miracle happen.  A less active Sister Randall and Sister Jackson visited on exchanges came to church!  One of our ward missionaries who is off track from BYU-I came up to us and said she has started her papers for her mission !!  The whole time I've been here she has been on and off with the idea of serving a mission.  Hearing her testimony of how she knows she needs to serve is awesome.

Today we have a busy day ahead of us because Sister Randall and I want to do cool things together while we have the time.  Having my best friend as my companion makes life a whole lot easier.

Sent from ALASKA!

Sister Shelley Willden

"Read your scriptures, pray everyday". That is the key to life.

Good week this week.

So last P-day we wanted to shop at all the native craft stores, but almost all of them are closed on Mondays. -_- I am half tempted to email President to see if we could change our P-day to a Tuesday one time to do the shopping we want to while in Alaska.  Though there was one place that technically was closed but a worker was there and let us browse around if we wanted to!  I got some kind of animal teeth that I am going to make earrings out of at that one store where I made my necklaces prior. We went back to the church afterwards and played basketball as usual.  Sister Randall even played with us which made it a lot more fun.  We were having fun blocking each other.  You could tell that we get along just how playful we were. 

Tuesday we had district meeting which was fine.  I did a training on charity and did an activity that involved using Sister Randall as our person who needed the charity.  All the elders completely missed it so I had them do it again.  Afterwards we helped a member in our ward decorate for our Relief Society birthday celebration.  This member gets kinda stressed out about these things but her work is always top notch. We were glad to help.  The birthday party was a lot of fun.  The theme was Getting to Know You so we did get-to-know-you activities.  We played the bingo game where you have to find a person who has had certain experiences.  Our team was so close to winning.  After eating dinner there was a talent portion so Sister Randall made me sing an aria for them.  I sang a shortened version instead of the whole, 10-minute song.  This would be the only time to sing opera for people and it not be weird.

Wednesday we helped out at the farm while we transplanted more seeds.  Jen and I had a good rhythm going.  At one point I caught up and she was lagging behind while she separated the plants and I transplanted.  We had a meeting that night with a council of members to talk about missionary efforts and events coming up like a family history workshop and an emergency preparedness event that people should invite from the community.

Thursday we had lunch with a few sisters from the ward at a restaurant owned by a member.  Afterwards we had a great lesson with a less active.  She is the one who owns chickens and a turkey that gobbles at us when we come.  For the lesson they put the dogs outside on leashes.  When we left we saw one of their chickens dead.  She immediately thought it was one of the dogs who killed it but later realized that the chicken was ice cold so it had to have happened that morning from a different dog. We did some more family history work that night which I am getting a whole lot better with.  It is easier to start with the relatives closest to yourself.  I find myself mainly "cleaning up" the information, like making sure the dates are standardized and at times finding sources to attach.  Because of some of the hints that pop up or sources I find was able to add two children to the distant family that were not already in the system.  Now when I find more information about them we can take those names to the temple to temple work for them.

Friday we had a fantastic lesson with Hara and Megan.  We went to their house this time which allowed for a more relaxed setting.  They were working on this craft they sell.  We decided to do some of it with them for a P-day next week.  We taught them about the gospel of Jesus Christ by reading 2 Nephi 31 with them.  This allowed them to ask questions open which they then had a lot which we were able to help answer most.  We are trying to teach them that they can find these answers on their own with the resources we have, like the gospel library app.  The best is to just read the Book of Mormon.  "Read your scriptures, pray everyday".  That is the key to life.

Saturday we attended a funeral.  Mormon funerals are just more lively than other funerals.  The children of the father who passed away was cracking jokes and sharing hilarious memories with the congregation.  The gospel brings peace to members lives because we know where our loved ones are going.  We know they are happier and in a better place.  Our funerals aren't a time to mourn, but a time to remember the life of those who are still living beyond the grave.  Later that evening we drove clear down Funny River Road for dinner.  The less active just has the craziest kids.  This was the first time I met her husband.  When he came home the kids, especially the youngest, were all of a sudden angels.  I see why she is so stressed all the time.

Sunday was a good day.  Maybe it is the excess about of sunlight now or just the fact that I know almost all the members in the ward now but I was just happier sitting in church.  The talks were great and one of the members brings chocolate when she teaches Relief Society.  Yay!  We later had a lesson with Dominic.  Part of our rules is that we need to have a third, adult female with us when we visit homes that don't have one.  We asked one of our ward missionaries to come but after calling and texting with no answer we asked if we could have our lesson out on the porch.  It turned out they hadn't moved their clocks forward in their house and her phone was on mute.  We suffered for 30 minutes sitting outside in freezing weather.  It wouldn't have been that bad if it wasn't for the cold wind.  We are just trying our best to be obedient.  The lesson turned out really great, though we had to push back Dominic's baptismal date.  He is just continuing to work out some things before he can be baptized.

Our relationship, Sister Randall and myself, hasn't been better.  I am really going to miss her when it is my time to transfer.  We work out our troubles and laugh all the time with each other.  This area is hard as a missionary with not many people to teach, but she has definitely made my time here better. 

Sent from ALASKA!

Sister Shelley Willden