Monday, May 15, 2017

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  

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