Dearest Family and Friends,
It's true! I feel like I just wrote to you. Or rather, sent you a billion pictures. This last week has been great. Let me update you on what I've been up to!
First off, Thank you to everyone that was in my inbox this morning. I can't tell you how much I love hearing from everyone. It's really true... you all just motivate me to keep going. Ask anyone out here.
Last week in church, one of the gospel principles' teachers invited us to do our laundry at their house to save money. My first P-day we had to go to a laundry mat... it was a nice laundry mat, actually. We ended up doing the same today and my clothes are there as we speak. They are the Mansfield's family. Brother Mansfield joined the church after years in a Baptist upbringing in 2005. He is one of the strongest members in this ward and his wife is just amazing. They work so hard with the little they have and bless so many lives around them. You will usually find us there on Mondays! He printed out his conversation story for me and I'm sending it home to Mom and Dad. It's kind of cool. He burns all sorts of DVDs and such for the misisonaries. They are a home away from home! They are one couple that you all will have to meet someday. Another family in the ward invited us to go to the zoo in Kansas City, so that's where we're headed after emailing. I'm sure there will be lots of pictures from that!
Sharon committed to baptism!! And she was my first baptismal invitation! Woo! I wrote about Phil last week too, I believe. He has disappeared... a lot of our investigators do that. Satan is working on them... there is a homeless man named Mike who all the sisters really enjoy. He lost everything because of a misunderstanding years ago and is just now trying to get back on his feet. He spends a lot of time in the VC. The story behind him was Sister Browning and her past companions have been teaching him for a while and he's had I think 3 different baptismal dates, but everytime he disappears. First it was because his mother sent the cops out to look for him... he's a 58 year old man... and his mother lives in Florida. Moms will be moms! The second time he got put in jail for soliciting illegally. That was a dumb story. And now his third date is the 30 April. He had committed to coming to church yesterday and never showed (we also have no way to contact him. No phone, no home). Later at the VC he showed up and said he wasn't feeling well. We're trying to get him to understand the importance of the commitments and why we do them. It's a sticky situation though. As far as Phil goes, he has a phone, but in a week he hasn't gotten back to us. We'd call every day. So... either he's sick of us or something. BUT! We will not let Sharon disappear! She's so golden. Her date is also 30 April. Hey mom... does that date sound familiar? :) As soon as she picked that for her date, I exclaimed, "Oh! That was my mom's baptism date!!" She's way excited to share that date with you. We just love her. She's married, in her late 20's and has a 4 year old son named Ethan. At first Ethan was very uncomfortable being at church, but we had an awesome inspired member team up with a 4 year old son and the boys are good friends now. Sharon actually got to sit through all of church! I'm not letting this one drop... no way. We have quite a few other investigators. We're teaching a man named Doug who works at and attends the Community of Church church. But he's very interested in the LDS temples and really loves the Word of Wisdom. The spirit is in his heart...we're just trying to help him recognize it.
So, the work is good. The VC is starting to pick up. Small world story! So, I made really good friends with a lot of Elders in my zone back at the MTC. Elder Larsen was one of them. I was giving a tour to a cute family and they said they were waiting for some friends to join them. Half way through the tour the family came and introduced themselves as the Larsen family. No connection made yet. The original family had small kids so we went to the part of the VC that has a play place (really neat, I'll try and send a picture eventually). I got to talking with the father. He was born in Portland and lived in the Salem area growing up. Awesome. One thing led to another and he said he had a son that just left on a mission to Riverside California. With the name lost somewhere in my mind, I replied, "Oh that's awesome! In my zone at the MTC a few Elders went there". "When was that?" the father asked. "About 2 weeks before I left... what was his name?" I was starting to catch on, Ha! I totally met this Elder's family. They are from St. George and the father was out in Kansas City area for work. How neat!! But yes, Sundays, Sister Browning and I are in the VC for the last 3 hours of the day. We reported for shift and didn't sit down until we prayed after 9 pm. That's different for me. It had been slow but I'm really pushed to study my history because sooner or later all of the summer bus tours and vacationing families are going to show up. I can tell you a lot now, though. :) When I was first called to Independence I thought the Lord has a real sense of humor since I really never liked history. I'm growing to love it... at least in the church history. I'll leave the rest of it to Derek and his bachelor degree. Ha! :)
Last Thursday, we had my first zone conference. We attended the Kansas City Zone and not our own (Independence) because they need to split the VC sisters. This was President and Sister Van Komen's last zone conference since they leave in 2 months. I cried at the thought of them leaving. That's how close this mission is. Elder Lesuma, one of the AP's, taught an awesome lesson on Ether 12:27. Now, I've always used this and have been told by several people to never forget it. I don't, but through Elder Lesuma's words, the spirit taught me another meaning of the verse. At the time, I was really confused inside. I go through this cycle or something where my love for the gospel isn't burning as bright as it should. I had prayed the night before for an understanding, because it was starting to worry me. I couldn't figure out how Satan was getting the better of me for such a length of time when I was doing everything I needed to. The way he explained it to me was this: It says to be humble, and as we do so Christ will show us our weaknesses, so that we can be made strong in them. Now, here's what the "I got it!" moment was for me: When we feel weak, that means we are becoming closer to Christ. A lightblub exploded and my heart was burning - I realized that I was indeed doing everything right and to not fret about it. I was simply becoming closer to Christ.
With that experience as the first hour of the 8 hour conference, I was on a spiritual high all day. I can't really tell you everything else that happened because I don't have my notebook in front of me, but I did get an opportunity to bear my testimony at my first zone conference last week. I received a lot of support and love from the fellow missionaries. President Van Komen made a comment to me that it seems I've been out on my mission for at least 6 months already instead of 1.5. It's that love and support that keeps me going. It makes me realize that this is where I'm supposed to be for this short amount of time. So, no need to worry about me at home. I'm working hard, getting the support I need whether it be here in Missouri, in my inbox, or in my mailbox, and growing into a better version of myself everyday. I owe it all to Christ. I can't even fathom how much Christ has given to me. His Atonement truly is real and able to be lived everyday. It needs to be. Otherwise, we lose precious moments. Please remember that.
The other day it was cold, overcast, and misting rain. I had never felt more at home. While everyone else was unhappy about it, I just soaked it all up. No pun intended.... maybe. :) One thing I love about giving tours is seeing where people come from and why they're here. Sort of like how I love airports for the same reason. I also get to share where I'm from and bring a little bit of the sunshine in my life to Missouri. Even if I'm white... haha. We were walking out of the VC this morning (there's a new version of the Joseph Smith movie at the VC, intended more for investigators. It has a lot more detail and history. We watched that this morning) and the sisters and I were loving not having to wear nylons on P-day (oh, Mom, P-day stands for Preparation day. I never answered you last week!). But, sadly, I am the whitest thing since sliced bread. Nevertheless, I love being FREE! :)
Ask any one of the sisters. All weekend I've been freaking out yelling and hoping how much I wanted her to write to me today and tell me her mission call. WE ARE GOING TO BE NEIGHBORS!!! You're just south of my mission, I think! I'M SO EXCITED FOR YOU! I'm going to snail mail you your responses, by the way. The MTC felt just like school to me. I didn't really "feel like a missionary" until I got into the field. You will love it. The people you meet, the spirit you feel, everything about it. Oh, I just love you. I miss you like crazy! And all the sisters of the Independence Visitor's Center say congratulations! :)
I'm excited for my boxes... :) We stopped into the mission office today (right next door to the VC. Ok... a block or two) and Larry the mailman was delivering a billion and one boxes for the mission. I can't wait until my name appears on one of those! But don't you worry, I am patient. I've been waiting for a hand written letter from Derek since the second week of the MTC. But he tells me it's growing, so once it gets here it will be worth the wait, I'm sure. Funny how that gospel principle applies to every aspect of life. :) Whenever I get a chance, I'm sending home a box, too. Sadly, all the really cute skirts Mom sent me out are too bold for the VC here. Also, I'm playing tourist and sending home and to the Claridge's a bunch of things we hand out to the guests at the VC. You can get an idea of it all this way, I think. Also, I got a couple DVDs and will be sending them home. I want them for after my mission, but I would encourage and invite you to watch them and play with them, Family!
This morning we wope up before 6am and kidnapped a sister and her companion. It was her birthday! We "broke into" their apartment, blindfolded Sister Stevens, led her to the car, drove around, parked across the street, led her *blindfolded* across the street into the church, and there she was met by 15 sisters and about 8 elders. It was a wonderful way to start off the day. The sisters go all out for birthdays around here. I just love it. I can't get enough!
We have exchanges tomorrow. Because Sister Browning is the VC Leader, I have 1-2 exchanges every week. Talk about crazy. This will be the first exchange when I stay in my own area, though. I'll sort of be flying solo! AHH! It'll be great, I'm sure. Just put me to work. Work and service cure everything.
Well, I'm out of stories to tell you. To wrap it all up, everything is grand. We have our bumps and bruises but we tackle them with 100% of heart. Thank you, everyone again, for your love and support to me, my companion, and my mission. The Missouri Independence mission is truly the only mission with a future! ;)
I love you.
Sister Vicki Moore
(can you keep up with all my signatures? ha!)
Shall we not go on in so great a cause?