Monday, August 14, 2017

The Biggest Area In The World

Wow ... so much has happened!  I hardly remember leaving Memory Lake and the flight to Fairbanks.  It has been very busy and productive.  I wish I could write about it all, but "ain't nobody got time for that", so here are the highlights:

Last P-Day In Wasilla: I got the majority of my bags packed and we played tennis at this park out in Willow with the zone.  I mostly just sat and wrote in everyone's transfer journal and had everyone sign mine.  We had to leave a bit early to go hiking with the Henson's and Bobby D.  He really wanted to go hiking with us so the Henson's drove us to Thunderbird Falls. That probably was the best hike he could ever hike because he could hear the waterfall.  Usually hiking is a scenic adventure but with the roaring of the waterfall, Bobby was able to experience a hike the best way a blind and hard-of-hearing person can.

Fly to Fairbanks:  We had changed up our logistics a bit as Sister Peterson felt that she should stay with Lazy Mountain where there are three beds and she needed to finish packing.  I had spent the night with Sister Johnson in Eagle river prior to driving to Anchorage. We showed up to the Brayton chapel and saw the 20+ new missionaries outside taking a picture with their trainers.  There are only two sisters who came out and one is named Sister Willden.  I got to talk with her and take a picture with her.  I want to find out how closely we are related.

We drove to the airport and got on our flight.  The plane was half full, so I got the whole row to myself.  Great time to nap. There are 6 sets of missionaries just in my district (the norm is 4) and 3 sets are being white washed including us.  Also majority of our zone is training new missionaries. This is going to be an interesting transfer. We probably have the biggest area in the world as a companionship; as we are YSA Sisters, we can go anywhere our skate goes. Our skate is huge as it covers Fairbanks, North Pole, Delta Junction, and all the way up to Barrow which is the highest city a person can go to in the world...It is huge !! 

Food Bank:  We have a weekly service helping out at the food bank.  This week we actually did back-to-back days.  The first day we helped to shop for orders.  I had to pretend basically that I was the mom of the family and get the amount of food I would need for a family of 2 or 4 or whatever number we were given.  It was a lot of fun. We got fed lunch afterwards, which was wonderful.  We also are allowed to take home 10lbs of produce and bread which will help me to save money on groceries.  The next day we helped a lady in the back with packaging up boxes to ship to some of the villages.  This cook machine they have puts this plastic band around the boxes to secure it shut.  It was a lot of fun and I never got tired of how much it excited me.

Other Service:  We helped out with bingo at the Pioneer Home which FBX 2nd Ward Elders showed up to as well, because it was in their area book.  Sisters used to be in second and elders used to be in the YSA, but we switched this transfer.  So the elders who are now in the 2nd ward have what the sisters used to do for service.  We decided to let them continue to help out with bingo and that we would just help out with glamour nails for the elderly ladies on Tuesdays.  The elders were cool with that. Thought I think one was okay to help out with nails :)  This week we also helped out at the fair.  Our Church had a Family History Center booth there that rotated the missionaries and some members to help run it.  We took over for the North Pole sisters.  What little training I have with, helped quite a bit.  We had people come by who were interested in genealogy and liked that we have a site that is free to use.  I talked to one lady about why we do family history in the Church and she seemed interested in the fact that we do it in an eternal perspective.  We enter this world in a family here on earth and our families can be perpetuated beyond the grave. Family History work is very important and it helps to bind families together to last after this life.  Matthew 18:18, "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven:  and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  God is bound by certain laws as we are.  Our families won't be together in the after-life without being sealed together and that only happens in our temples.  Family history work helps us to find our ancestors to bind them together for eternity.

YSA Branch:  So what I thought was a YSA Ward (Young Single Adult) is a YSA Branch. All this means is that it is a really small ward.  They said the Branch's size will shrink in half by mid September when most people leave to go to school down in the lower 48.  We do a lot of activities though in a singles ward.  They have finished the summer semester of Institute last week and we don't know when the fall semester will begin, but those are Thursday nights.  We have FHE (Family Home Evening) every Monday. Normally families will just get together to have a spiritual discussion and then do a fun activity together as a way for the family members to bond.  Well, in a singles ward (branch), we don't necessarily have our families with us so the ward (branch) as a big family that comes together to do the same had we had our families here.  On Saturdays they plan extra activities for the Branch members to participate.  The best thing about it is that it is a lot easier, and less of a commitment, to bring non members to.  It's something fun we do and all friends are welcome.  When we talk to people who are between the ages of 18 to 30, we try to invite them to the activities to meet members of the church and have some fun with people who live in their same area. We have been doing a lot of less active work, trying to know who the members of the branch are, and trying to meet all of our investigators.  Most investigators we will have will be referrals which is good because they already have a friend in the church.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Free Haircut?

Last full week in the Memory Lake Ward, Wasilla Stake.  I've had so much fun in this area and will miss the members greatly.  I feel like I'm part of a big family up here, but all good things must come to an end.  You'll have to keep reading to see where I'm going :). Here are the highlights:

Hatcher Pass Summit:  Why wouldn't we go hiking? This is the 5th week in a row.  I won't get this though where I'm going next.  Need to take advantage now while I have the opportunity.  We get up to the part with four lakes and there is still snow patches on the mountain !! It's been close to 80 degrees the last couple of days and there is still snow on the mountains?!  We climbed higher to just walk the top of the bow. While up there we smelled Marijuana and sure enough there was the plant up there. Crazy.
Painting:  We had a lesson set with Sister Berdeaux but she got asked to help with a project Brother Stolberg was in charge of. We show up to the address she sent us and they were painting the house. We offered our help so we drove back to change into clothes we didn't mind getting paint on.  A family is to move into the house the next day and for some reason, the living room attached to the kitchen had two separate colors of paint on the wall.  A line separating the two was across the ceiling.  It looked terrible. We were re-painting the walls all white which made the old color look completely different than white.  They fed us pizza for lunch, which is always a blessing. 

YW Camp:  We got invited to attend a portion of the Young Women's Camp.  Their theme was "Sharing the Light" so the camp director asked us to come one night and teach about missionary work and how to share the gospel with others.  Before we did that, we got fed dinner and played Ticket-to-Ride.  They didn't have the instructions so I just taught some of the girls how to play.

Free Haircut:  So normally when you hear "free haircut" you don't walk, you run the other direction.  Well, this summer program thing led by some other church would bring in groups from other states to come and help kids at the parks in Alaska. They would feed them and do crafts with them, and this also helped out with the homeless in the area.  We would OYM at the park occasionally and made friends with the head directors.  We showed up on Thursday evening when they normally have their block party.  We completely forgot about it, but we're thrilled to remember when we pulled up.  One of the directors came up to us and offered us food which we declined as we were going to dinner right after.  He then asked if we wanted a free haircut. I had meant to get my hair cut this transfer, but we always went hiking so there was no time.  Sister Pike was sketched out by it, but I was down.  The lady swore up and down that she has a license in cutting hair; that she owns her own salon in North Carolina and has been cutting hair for 35 years.  I just needed a trim so what's the worst that could happen?  We go inside the church with her and she talks our ears off while cutting my hair.  Not too shabby.  Got a free haircut and it actually looks good. We got our calls later than night:
I am going to Fairbanks to be a STL (Sister Training Leader) with Sister Richards (who served in Memory Lake prior to me coming here), but white washing into the YSA ward!  Well, elders used to serve there, so we are actually, what we call, "pink washing". It would be "blue washing" if elders white washed into an area previously covered by sisters.  I have always wanted to serve in a YSA ward my whole mission and I am so excited. I fly up on Wednesday (Aug 9th) with my new companion.  President is doing some changes when it comes to MLC making it more like an actual counsel, which I am excited for as well.  We get to fly down for those!  He is also implementing a new concept called a "traveling assistant" with one of my zone leaders.  Basically, he will not have a full-time companion as he will travel around the mission trio-ing it with other elders helping them out and giving advice. When is is not doing that, he is in a trio with a second set of elders serving in the same ward the the APs.  Crazy, but cool. It will be interesting to see how this works out. 

Miracles Dinners:  For our dinner calendar this week, we had three open days which we were going to have to fend for ourselves, but all of those days were taken care of. The first was taken care of by a new investigator.  She has started learning about Jesus Christ and has asked her coworker who is a member in another ward questions and friend told her to meet with the missionaries.  She fed us dinner prior to our lesson. #Blessing.  The second one we had asked our go-to members if they can feed us.  The last was another blessing.  We were doing service for this non-member family to move this playground set from one house to another and they offered to feed us the next day because they were planning on a BBQ.  It turned out we didn't have dinner that night, so that was amazing. The Lord provides when we are doing His work.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden       

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Wow !!  So much happens here, but it's all just little things here and there; nothing too exciting really.  I wish I had time to write about everything but I don't, so here are just a few things that happened this week.

Hike:  We hiked Gold Chord Lake up at Hatcher Pass which was gorgeous.  This, by far, was the easiest hike I've completed and we still did get a great view.  Later that evening, we had our first ward party since I've been in this ward and it was a great turnout.  It was in celebration of Pioneer Day.  The hamburgers went fast, so I ended up with a hot-dog.  We played on stilts and did an egg race with spoons.  The kids ended up throwing the eggs at each other at the end and some of the adults were playing baseball with the left over eggs as well.
Long District Meeting:  We went way over time because the Zone Leaders training took up the entire time.  They trained on goals and we all discussed the mission culture and our standards of excellence.  We all gave our two cents and it took us forever to come up with some solutions to the problem.  All that we talked about is being brought to President in a meeting call MLC which is Missionary Leadership Counsel. They will discuss new goals for the mission.  Exciting changes are hopefully going to be made.

Shopping with Bobby:  Bobby doesn't go shopping all too often, so when he goes shopping he stocks up.  All of his friends were either unavailable or off working on the slope (which is a place where a lot of people go to work up in Barrow for 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off and make quite a bit of money).  He asked us if we would help him shop. The only person we could get to help drive him there and back was Brother Henson. He was coming back from visiting Anchorage and would help after that.  We were then on a time crunch to get to dinner so we had to move fast.  We had helped him write down his grocery list the day before and were then going to get everything.  It was taking a lot longer than expected, because Bobby needs to make sure he gets the right brand of things.  We had Brother Henson get the other half of the items on the grocery list and meet back up.  We were in and out and on with our lives.  Bobby said that was the fastest he has ever finished shopping.  We were only 15 minutes late to dinner because of 5pm rush hour traffic with everyone coming back from Anchorage.

Singing at Church:  One of our members wanted us to call the women in charge of the music and volunteer to sing in Sacrament meeting.  She asked us last Sunday when we could sing, and because of the possibility of me getting transferred, the only Sunday we could do it was yesterday.  We had a week to pull together a song, but we had already been practicing, "Come Thou Fount", from when we were asked to sing at a baptism that got postponed.  We practiced Saturday with one of the elders playing the piano for us and our district just staying in to listen.  Sister Pike had invited President Toone to come watch us perform Sunday while emailing him last P-day.  He emailed back saying he would try to make it.  This week we get a call from Sister Toone verifying the address of the Church and the time our ward started.  They came and so many people wanted to meet the new Mission President.  It was awesome and it felt good that they would drive up from Anchorage to hear us sing in Church.

Ammon:  So in the Book of Mormon, there is a story of a missionary who wanted to preach the gospel to people, so he decided he needed to serve the king.  The king has him and some other servants tend to his flock and have them get water at this well. Some bad guys come and scatter the flock as a fun thing they do and in the past the king kills the servants because they lose the king's flock.  Well, Ammon ends up chopping off the arms of the bad guys to protect the king's flock and is able to bring the whole flock back to the king.  We told this intro to our investigator Mary and then read the following chapter where Ammon is able to teach about God to the king. After we read the chapter she asked, "how many arms did he chop off"?  Haha!  We laughed and told her she could read the previous chapter to find out.  If that interest is what motivates her to read the Book of Mormon, then more power to her.  The Book of Mormon is filled with some crazy stories like the Bible which both testify of Jesus Christ.  2 Cor 3:1, "This is the third time I am coming to you.  In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established."  From the Book of Mormon - 2 Nephi 29:8, "Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word?  Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another?  Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another.  And when the two nations shall fun together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also."  We need both books.  Read the Book of Mormon.  

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley