Monday, August 28, 2017

"That's not my name"

There is a lot that happened this week, so this is probably going to be really long. Here are the highlights:
Pioneer Park:  So apparently this park used to be called Alaskaland but people got the wrong idea about what kind of place this is.  It is not an amusement park but a historical park with a lot of different museums and gift shops.  And the best thing about it is it's free (not the gift shops obviously).  Free parking and free museum besides the air museum.  It was finally a sunny day on Monday so we did a lot of shopping and I got a cross stitch pattern for puffins (this type of bird that is in Alaska that I love), which I'm excited to do when I go home.  Sister Richards got a kuspuk, which is an Alaskan native jacket for $15.  We told that to a lady who fed us dinner with the FBX 5th Ward sisters and she couldn't believe it.  Then she realized it was the end of the season with Pioneer Park, as they close after Labor Day, and then she understood the pricing.  She said she would make us one of we just bought the fabric and the trim.  Sweet !!!  Later that evening we had to leave FHE early to bring a guy and his girlfriend some food.  We saw that the missionaries have taught them in the past, but their teaching record said they resurfaced once in a blue moon when they need something like a ride or food.  They are really young single adults who are living off of food stamps and in a tent.  We tried talking to them about the Church's self-reliance program which would require them meeting with us and coming to church which they agreed to do but their body language told us otherwise.  People tend to take advantage of missionaries because of all the service we do for others.  We are her to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.  We helped them out this time, but told them straight up that we can't do this anymore because it will only enable them. We thought about what is really the Christ-like way of handling this situation.  The thought came to us, "give a man a fish - feed him for a day; teach a man to fish - feed him for a lifetime."  We tried calling them for church but their phones were dead. We'll see what happens this week.
Concerned about Marriage:  We finally had district meeting since we had zone conference last week.  It was fun.  I was asked to do a get-to-know-you training.  It was interesting that it needed to be a training.  But you know me, I went all out.  I had done this thing as an EFY Counselor where I would toss a ball covered with numbers and when the person catches it, they look at what number their thumb lands on.  The number corresponds to a get-to-know-you question.  The EFY kids usually have a blast and the district seemed to like it as well.  Later that day we had our lesson with DJ - we had soon on his teaching record that the elders tried teaching him the Restoration lesson but only really taught the first principle, which is God is Our Loving Heavenly Father.  We thought that wouldn't happen to us but it did.  We only go through the first two principles in the lesson because DJ had a lot of concerns, especially about marriage.  Now, I stress about marriage mainly because as a member of this Church we talk quite a bit about marriage and making sure we marry a good person who will accompany us to the temple and help raise our children with the knowledge of the gospel.  That leads to stress in making the right choice.  DJ, who is not a member, shouldn't have the exact same concerns.  That's crazy.
Food Bank Twice:  We did it twice this week.  The second time was our normal food bank experience we have each week but the first was helping in the back.  We got a lot of our zone to come and basically work the assembly line.  We got it done really quickly which was good.  Afterwards we stuck around for lunch and we were coloring a thankful card that was going to go up on the wall.  A lady who works there was talking with us and as the sisters were leaving she told me she was a less-active member. She said that she wants to come back to Church and bring her family who she raised in this Church but needs to talk about it with her husband.  I told her to first start reading the Book of Mormon again.  The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion.  Every teaching in our Church comes down to whether or not the Book of Mormon is true.  She said she would start that again.
Lessons with "Gators":  So we had two lessons back to back with our investigators on Wednesday which was amazing.  Days like these are what makes a mission so worth is. I just want to teach people the gospel.  The first lesson was with Terry.  We met up with him at UAF (University of Alaska Fairbanks) and he was a breath of fresh air.  His beliefs go along with our beliefs so teaching him is really just having a gospel discussion where his inputs are him basically teaching himself the lesson.  After that we drove out to Salcha to go see Romano or should I say Romario?  This is our third time visiting him and he just now tells us, mind you at the end of the lesson, that  his name is not Romano but Romario.  What?!  You are just now telling us?!  He is Romano to me, not Romario.  Even now I get it mixed up.  Well he is moving back to Jamaica this week so we are transferring his teaching record there.  Hopefully they will be able to find him.  He was only up here for a summer job program.  We had new member lessons with Tucker.  But he first wanted to buy us milkshakes so we had the lesson there.  We had Sid and Dean come.  A family ended up paying for our meal there.  They turned out to be members.  That was so sweet of them.
Nenana:  So we are the missionaries in charge of the Fairbanks YSA Branch, as well as the Tamarack Branch in Nenana.  It is about an hour drive away and such a tiny town. They were having a Branch BBQ Friday and wanted missionaries there.  Us, the Zone Leaders and FBX 6th Ward elders were there.  They each gave a pass-along card with our phone number on it to nonmembers.  There were a lot.  Sister Richards and I were busy going around trying to introduce ourselves to everyone.  We are now in contact with the Branch President and the Branch Mission Leader.  We got there a little bit early (like 2 hours early) so we went around trying to find the church building and visited some former investigators.  We thought we were late trying to find their house but it turned out we were an hour early.  We helped to set up the BBQ then and got to know our Branch President a little bit better.  Tucker and Sid were there from YSA which was cool.  They knew the Verhagens (a family of nine who basically populate the city of Nenana with all of their children and their children's children).  It was a lot of fun.
Sunday:  Wow!!  So our branch mission leader, Jeremias, is leaving this week because the military is moving him to Colorado. He invited a lot of his military friends (soldiers) which packed the meeting.  His talk and Laura's, who spoke before him, were so on point with missionary work and the power of the Book of Mormon.  I felt the spirit so strong and would hope the nonmembers felt it too.  We really are going to miss him. He is a convert to the church of almost 2 years but is so well-versed in the gospel already.  He knows more about the Book of Mormon than some life-long members.  We joke about him being the next apostle but seriously, if all ward mission leaders were like Jeremias, the work would be on fire.  Speaking of fire, later that day we were invited to a dinner with one of the YSA members.  He had some other members over for dinner too.  YSA experiences are a lot different from family wards. What do you get when you have a room full of boys?  Destruction.  Just because they wanted to, they lit aluminum and iron on fire and then melted lead.  Crazy.  Boys just love blowing things up.  The saying "they'll grow out of it" is a lie.  "Boys will be boys" is on point.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden

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