Monday, May 29, 2017

Melatonin wakes you up

This has been the longest week of my mission.  No matter if you are transferring or not, transfer week is always long.  It is longer when your companion is sick and you are stuck inside all day.  Here are some highlights, though, for things that did happen:

Bobby Service:  We helped Bobby rake the sides of his house all the leaves with the help of some elders.  We got it done in two days of a couple of hours each day which would have taken him a few weeks being blind.  The mosquito's those days weren't so bad as they have been.  The mosquito's are bigger here in Alaska than what I am used to back in Texas and I hear that the ones in Fairbanks are like three times the size than the ones here in Wasilla.  Not looking forward to that if I ever go.

Car Port:  We had fun at a district service helping to put up this investigator's car port she bought which took us forever.  We had put on the covering before the doors which was skipped and had to turn the cover and the whole thing itself around multiple times to get things done.  Though I am glad we had the whole district helping or else we would have been there way longer.  When we were about to leave the lady came up to us to say goodbye and talked to us for a further 25 minutes.  We had to go when we were wanting to leave but then we really had to go when we finally left.  I saw one of the elders laughing at the situation because he knew we were trying to leave the whole time we were talking to her.

Prayer Knot:  I learned an object lesson while I was an EFY counselor about how prayer and the scriptures answers our concerns and problems in life.  As our spiritual thought at dinners lately we have been doing it.  They have to figure out how to put a knot in the scarf without letting go of their hands once on the scarf.  We see it time and time again the members struggling to figure this out.  The wife at this dinner said to her husband, "it's how you pick it up".  So the husband laid the scarf down on the ground and said, "Sup?  How you doing?"  in a New York accent and starting using pick-up lines to "pick up" the scarf.  By far the funniest and best way we've seen it done.  If only we were recording that.  We then read 2 Nephi 32:9, which says "pray always" and show them they must fold their arms like they are praying.  They then pick up the scarf and make a knot by unfolding their arms.  I know the scriptures help us find answers to our questions we have and give us solutions to our struggles in life.  All it takes is reading them daily to find those answers.

Birthday Party:  A companionship of elders both had their birthday this week two days apart from each other.  We decided to throw them a birthday party on the day in between their birthdays to celebrate.  We bought cupcakes for the occasion and played uno, mafia, and this moose spotting dice game I purchased in Soldotna.  It was a lot of fun and a great way to unify our district.

Melatonin:  Whoever said melatonin helps you sleep was wrong.  Maybe it helps you to fall asleep, but twice I have woken up in the middle of the night wide awake after having taken melatonin to fall asleep.  The first time wasn't as bad since I was able to fall back asleep, but Saturday night I woke up around 3am and couldn't fall back asleep for the rest of the night.  My mind just started thinking about so many things and eventually I was writing a song.  I was tired all day Sunday, but not as tired as I would have thought.  I was strong and didn't come home and take a nap because I felt that this would help me to fall asleep faster without melatonin.  I can say I slept through the night and was actually well rested when I got up this morning to take a shower.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden

Monday, May 15, 2017

My Butte hurts

The days are long and the weeks fly by.  Every Monday, I'm like "dang, it's already Monday?"  I still remember last Monday."  Yet, I hardly remember the days in between. Here are some highlights of the week:

Hiked the Butte:  Not everyone came, but the majority of our zone went hiking. This is the second time now that I've hiked the Butte and still died when I reach the top. But this time I can see improvements; got to the top faster it seemed and when we were done my legs were still completely attached to my body.  It's always very windy at the top, which makes for some great hair pictures.
Bike ride:  Doing some service for Hannah last week we saw two bicycles that were still in working condition that we asked if we could have.  We rode them for our morning exercise one morning and about died.  I got the seat that was more comfortable than Sister Williams and my bottom still hurts afterwards.  Sister Williams thinks she is bruised.  I also died because of all the hills in our neighborhood. I miss flat-land Texas.  I can go forever on no elevation and completely flat, but my legs fall off with jagged hills.
Miriam & Aaron:  The Hensons, who are the best ward missionaries ever, invited a family over for dinner this week.  They know them because Aaron use to be a student at the school where Brother Henson works.  Miriam has been a member for not too many years and has become less active due to some events in her life.  Her son is not a member.  Sister Williams was awesome at not beating around the bush and straight up asked if she wanted to come back to Church and if he would like to learn more about the gospel.  According to Brother Henson, Aaron is not shy about his feelings.  If he doesn't want to do something he will say no.  But when we asked him about learning more he wasn't opposed.  He would be going to the singles ward, so we are going to be working with the elders and transitioning once we begin actually teaching.
More service:  We did quite a bit of service this week again, which is always a plus. We helped to finish raking leaves with Bobby.  We worry about him tripping over something he can't see but he always seems to exceed my expectations.  We helped clean the house for Barb, Terry's wife, while he is still in the hospital for his foot.  She wants us to come back and talk more about the gospel!  We, along with the Wasilla elders, helped out at Hannah's this Friday and three of us worked on a car that needed a new frame and a door.  I learned something new and can now replace a car door if y'all need it :)
Transfer calls:  Transfer-call Thursdays are always long and stressful because we are wanting to know what is happening.  Are we staying, or are we going? The agony kills us. Though this Thursday went by fairly fast. We made our day pretty packed so we would be focused more on all the things we got to do and less on our calls.  The verdict is both Sister Williams and I are staying one more transfer together!  This will be my third transfer total with Sister Williams.  She is "dying" after this transfer (meaning this is her last transfer on the mission and will be going home); which means I have a funeral to plan.  :)
Mother's Day:  Mother's Day could not come sooner. Usually every week there is something to look forward to, like Zone Conference; planned service; going to the temple; etc.  But this is the Jack of all trades -- We get to Skype home !!!  We email family once a week, obviously, but get to have a face to face Skype call with our family's only twice a year.  It was so nice being able to talk to my Mom and wish her a Happy Mother's Day.  I got to meet my Dad's new wife, Angel, who is adorable, and also had the opportunity to Skype my brother Chandler, and meet his girlfriend Rosette, who is so cute.  Most people would think after calling home it would make a missionary more "trunky" (wanting to go home with packed bags), but I always feel more invigorated and ready to go out and take on the missionary work. It's too bad we can't do this more often.  The Henson's went down to Soldotna to go fishing for the weekend and got back on Sunday.  While down there they visited my "daughter" (my trainee in the mission). Sister Randall had her sign a Happy Mother's Day card to give to me.  I was so thankful for that and miss her tons. She got her transfer call to leave and go to Beach Lake to serve with Sister Spencer who came out a transfer after Sister Randall. 

At one point my Dad wanted me to bear my testimony to Angel, who is not yet a member, over FaceTime.  Even though I was put on the spot for that, the Spirit let me to say what needed to be said.  I know our testimonies of Jesus Christ and His Gospel is the most important thing we can obtain on this earth, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share it with the people I teach here in Alaska and for anybody who reads this blog.  Our testimonies develop "line upon line, precept upon precept" and with some time throughout our lives along with the experiences we have overcoming our trials.  This Church is true and the Book is blue. If you haven't read it, read it.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden 

Spiders?! Why couldn't it have been follow the butterflies?

Crazy week.  Looking back on all the things that have happened, it seems like all of this happened months ago.  Missionaries are so aware of time because everything is kept in time increments.  We email every Monday; we have transfers every 6 weeks; we are usually in an area on average for three transfers, sometimes four; we Skype home twice a year and certain missionaries count down to the very second they will be home.  I have no idea how many days until I go home, because I don't even know when I am going home.  I just know sometime in January, 2018.  I could probably figure it out, but that will only make me think about it more.  I hit my 10th month mark this past Saturday, which was great.  Here are some highlights from this week:

Snake:  So apparently there was a 17-foot python that escaped (it was someone's pet), and is now slithering around Meadow Lake, which is in our area.  We are hoping it is dead since it isn't too hot here yet for it.  The average has been 50 degrees the past couple of weeks which has been awesome.  Sister Williams really wants to run into the snake because she feels that would be an awesome story to write home about.  I think it is an awesome story in and of itself just the fact that it is loose in our area.

Seagulls:  They say not to feed the bears, but nothing about the seagulls.  One day we saw this homeless guy feeding the seagulls and then swarming around him and we thought that awesome.  We tried feeding them mixed nuts and they went crazy.  They are literally just like the seagulls on "Finding Nemo."  A great Alaskan experience.

Spiders:  A continuation of our spider infestation.  There aren't really too many bugs in Alaska, but they sure have a heck of a spider issue.  We bought some spider killer and found like three living in a corner of our apartment, which I sprayed to death.  We flushed down a few; two in one night.  One night neither Sister Williams nor I got any sleep because we both had nightmares about being eaten by spiders.  This was the night after meeting with our Bishop and our missionary efforts who told us crazy bug stories from serving in Mexico.  All I could think about is the famous Harry Potter line about spiders and butterflies.  "Seriously -- spiders, mosquito's, and bees.  Why can't they have a butterfly problem?"  

Service:  I know all these subjects start with an "S", but this one is not animal related. We did quite a bit of service this week!  My companion LOVES providing service.  She said when she got to this area in Memory Lake, there were no service opportunities at all, so she prayed for some and it snowed for an entire week.  Service for them all week long shoveling people's driveways.  Well not that the snow is completely melted beside remote areas where the sun doesn't shine, we are helping people with spring cleaning.  We helped Bobby rake his yard.  We saw him one day doing it and we were a bit nervous of him doing that by himself.  I don't like putting limitations on what Bobby D can and cannot do, but it is just a bit scary seeing a bind man raking his yard around these huge trees.  After helping him, we went to help an in-active mother of four clean her house before she fed us dinner.  She is slowly warming up to us.  Our other big service day was helping Hannah, one of our investigators.  She is living out in this area which is a little less than a junk yard.  Her family members are just holding on to a lot of different peoples' stuff.  We burned a ton of bad wood and my favorite thing to do was move things from one side to the other with this wheelbarrow I found. One of the elders tried taking my job, but I took it right back.

Terry:  So we set up a time for us to come and visit one of our new investigators and she said her husband is in the hospital and that we should go visit him.  She didn't give us any details about him.  We show up to find him with 5 phalanges short.  He got a cut on the bottom of his foot and wound up having to get half of his foot amputated. Hopefully that is all the doctors have to cut off of him.  Apparently something still might be in his blood stream.  While there Barb, his wife, showed up and they were having an argument right in front of us.  All we could do was awkwardly sit there. People tend to think we are like marriage counselors ... um, we are young, single-adult missionaries.  The only advice we can give is pray about it and read the scriptures. 

Robert and Brady:  Robert and Brady are two sons of the Henson's who haven't gone to Church in a really long time.  We spend quite a bit of time there with dinner and trying to teach their grandkids, Kemalie and Jamie, when we can.  They are slowly warming up to us.  Brady was on board mainly to go to this singles ward break-the-fast dinner happening yesterday.  We have been talking about it all week, and he finally said he would come.  After church the Henson's wanted us to come over to now convince Robert to go.  Robert hardly comes out of his room and when he does he grabs food and goes straight back to his room.  Earlier this week we had dinner over there and he stayed out to eat with us.  We shared an object lesson with them and it seemed like he liked it.  We went over an hour before this break-the-fast to get Robert to go.  Moments before we had to leave we got him to change out of his pajamas and get dressed to go.  Both Brady and Robert came, which was awesome! We played a game with them later and both stayed out to play, even though one was bored.  The Henson's said that never happens.  I really do love that we make an influence on people by being ourselves and becoming friends with people rather than being faceless missionaries behind a name tag.

We continue to influence people by being the kind, loving people we can be and by showing others than we care and continue to invite people, even when they reject the offer time and time again.  It goes along with the famous quote, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."  I love teaching the gospel but can't teach to those who don't want to be taught.  There is more effort involved than what most people think about when they think of missionaries.  Yes, our mission doesn't baptize twenty people a week like some missions in South America, but we do make a difference that has an effect on others, as well as ourselves.  I am grateful to be serving a mission and look forward to the rest of the time I have left.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden  

Life is a Football Game

This week has flown by.  We live most of the time from Monday to Monday just because it is like our "break" from missionary work, yet we still are missionaries and need to take opportunities even on Mondays to share the gospel.  Here are some highlights from the week:

Change Up P-Day:  So we get a text from the elders saying we are going to have our p-day fun outside at the park.  We thought we were going to do something different, but when we get there they were playing basketball !  We go outside to play basketball ?! \ We can do that in the church !  So we played lightning/knock-out and a game of basketball before some of us just threw around a football.  One of the Samoan elders stepped on my foot so I've had a bruise on my foot all week.  At least it didn't hurt while I walked.

Pizza Hut:  We haven't had a district meeting in over three weeks because of transfers, and then we were supposed to have zone meeting, but received an email from President saying they are disbanded due to the zone conferences taking place every transfer.  We didn't have it the week following because we had zone conference so we finally had it this past week.  It was good.  I didn't realize how much I missed them.  Sister Williams and I went to Pizza Hut afterwards for lunch and this guy named Dean started talking to us about Church.  He works for the military and has been up here in Alaska for about 3 years.  He said he attended our church a couple of times down in Texas.  Before we really began talking to him I got the feeling that his interest wasn't really the church, but that the fact we were girls.  This became more apparent as he asked us if we are allowed to date on our missions.  He said he would come to church this Sunday, but he never showed.  At least I feel good that we took the opportunity to share the gospel with someone while at lunch.

Temple:  I am so glad we had the opportunity to go to the temple this week.  I love going to the temple !  I feel the spirit so strongly, and I am the best version of myself the rest of the day.  I have been thinking a lot more and more about my plans after the mission and if my idea to teach seminary and institute is the right course for me to follow.  I prayed about it more in the temple, but didn't feel like I got a strong answer either way.  Every time I think about it, though, I feel good about it and get more excited to go into that profession.

Spider:  So one morning we were finishing our exercise and Sister Williams is about to go take a shower when she almost stepped on this quarter-sized spider!  She wanted me to kill it and I was like heck no!  I grabbed one of her shoes and it didn't die when I put the shoe on it, so I left and made Sister Williams do it.  I just played around on the Ukulele while she videoed herself killing the spider.  Eventually she got a can of hair spray to kill it.  Alaska is crawling around with a ton of spiders now that the snow is gone.  The mosquitos are out too.  The joke is that the Alaskan state bird is the mosquito.  If that is the case than the Alaskan state animal is the spider.  I am just glad I haven't seen any bees yet.  They are the worst.

Kemalie and Jamie:  They are both the grandchildren of the Henson's in our ward.  We had a lesson with them after dinner on Friday.  We played a game with them and then showed them the diagram of the Plan of Salvation.  It was a bit interesting that the game we played kinda had principles of the Plan of Salvation in it.  It was a lot of fun and I think the kids understood what they could.  We might have to reteach that some time later though.  We invited both to church but only Jamie came.  

Life is a Football Game:  On our way to appointments/visiting people we listen to music in the car.  Sister Williams was sent her mother's IPod so we thumbed through some of the music and found talks by John Bytheway, Brad Wilcox, and this guy named Tony Dunn.  We listened to one of them and it was hilarious!  We then tried listening to more from Tony Dunn and found this talk called Life is a Football Game.  I have heard the Plan of Salvation be compared to a sport before, but never in as much detail as this guy goes into.  He is a great speaker as well that just makes you laugh the whole time through.  He explains that our time here on earth is playing the game, but life after death is the homecoming party.  We don't want to have us be there by ourselves.  A party is no fun without people at the party.  We are here out on missions to be the "recruiters" to have people play on our team and be there for the homecoming party in the afterlife.  I hope that I be with a lot of my family members, if not all and the friends I have made a long the way there after we get through this tough life.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden