Monday, July 10, 2017

525,600 Minutes

I have been out on my mission for a year !!!!  This day seemed light years away, but looking back, this year has flown by and I can hardly remember what happened yesterday.  Here are the highlights:

Gotta be crazy to climb Lazy:  I don't know why I allowed people to talk me into climbing Lazy Mountain again.  I died the first time, but this time was a bit better and a very different experience. The first time it was just Sister Williams and I and two members. This time we brought the whole zone with us and a member.  Before we climbed up the switchbacks and down the basically vertical slope, but this time we did it reverse; up the vertical and down the switchbacks.  It had rained a lot on Saturday and a tad on Sunday prior to the hike that I was nervous about the excess of mud hiking this mountain.  Well we climbed it anyway and oh yes, there was mud, mud, and more mud.  Our group ended up splitting in two and I was in the second group trying to climb mud which I kept slipping. Some of the elders stayed behind to help me get up. We get to the picnic table and I am ready to throw in the towel, but continue on.  We get to a point where the first group is heading back and some go back up the rest of the mountain with us.  We took tons of pictures and had a lot of fun.  Was able to walk fully on Thursday.
4th of July:  We had district meeting that was happening during the city parade, but got invited to a ward BBQ for lunch. They roasted a pig and a guy came and played the bagpipes for us.  We are always down for free food.  That is definitely something I will miss about being a missionary.  No one is gonna want to just feed me all the time when I no longer have this badge on.  We OYMed (opened our mouths) at the park and we ran into some of our neighbors.  They invited us to play Settlers of Catan with them, so we played and we answered a lot of the questions they had about missionaries and the Church.  It was awesome.  This was probably the best holiday when it came to missionary on the mission.  For Christmas and Thanksgiving, people are usually in their homes and don't want us coming by, but when they are outside enjoying the sun it is much easier for us to approach them.

Exchanges:  So we had exchanges on Thursday which was my year mark.  One of the elders in my district entered the MTC the same time I did and so we wished each other a happy year mark.  He asked what I did to celebrate and I replied, "giving out 3 Books of Mormon."  I don't know what it is about exchanged, but something I call exchange miracles happen every time.  I exchanged with Sister Jewel who was my companion for a week in Anchorage before I was emergency transferred to Soldotna. It was so good to see her again.  We got to know each other so well in the one week we were together and it is almost like we picked up the last place we left off.  We OYMed at the park and talked to so many people and were able to share the BOM with three people.  We are going to follow up with them soon.  Some crazy things happened with drunk natives and Sister Jewel getting proposed to but it was all fun and laughs after each situation.
Extended Spring:  This weather we have had this summer is crazy.  In May we had so much sunshine, but in June we have had the most rain ever as if this Summer is just an extended Spring.  It rained ALL day Saturday which made tracting a blast.  But Sunday the sun came back out and was so warm that we did our studies outside at the park.  We pray so much for the sun to shine everyday if it be God's will.  Please pray for Alaska to have a good Summer.  After this harsh Winter we need a fantastic, sun-filled Summer.
It is hard to believe that a year has come and gone being on a mission.  I feel like the time flew, but definitely see how the year tool a long time to her here.  There is just so much stuff we do in one day that it feels like I've been out here for years.  My life back home feels like a dream, but at the same time, I feel that I will wake up one morning and this mission will be the dream.  It is hard to really put into words my feelings about it all.  I have a tad over 6 months left of my mission, which everyone says will come and go so fast that I will be worrying about my life back home sitting on a plane.  I am so grateful I had this opportunity to come here to Alaska to serve a mission.  It has been so rewarding and at the same time so difficult. High School was difficult, college was difficult, but they are all difficult in different ways.  What I have learned here on my mission I may not have learned anywhere else. These experiences, lessons, and relationships I have made will carry with me through the rest of my life and will impact my future no doubt.  Anything that will stretch you and mold you into a more Christ-like character is definitely worth it.  No one can adequately describe the difficulty of a mission, but once you have experienced it, the same attitude at the end emerges:  a stronger love for your Savior and a love for the people you serve.  They all say it is worth it even though it is hard.  No one I've met ever says they regret serving a mission, but they all say how grateful they were to serve.  I too, can say the same.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden    

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