Can you believe I've been out this long?!?! I'm in my 3rd transfer! I only gerIt is true... I have been transferred out of the VC and P-days are back to Mondays, for the next 6 weeks anyway. I am full pros! The Lord has called me to serve in the Odessa ward. Odessa is about 30 minutes east of Independence. This area covers 14 small towns.
it is about 40 miles north to south and 25 miles west to east. We only get 850 miles per month. We do a lot of member work. Crazy story to transfers, though.
So, we all receive transfer calls on Tuesday night before transfers on Thursday. Tuesday morning, President individually calls all of the new missionaries who will be training or have leadership callings to give them the heads up. When he does that, he will usually tell where the other companion is going and whatnot. One sister, Sister Crapo, was called and told she will be opening up a new area (there were Elders there before) and her companion was told that she's staying and will be serving with Sister Stoker. My companion was Sister Stoker... and we tried to figure out if I was going anywhere else or not. None of the other sisters heard anything so I was blind. It's rare to double transfer out so I thought I was going to be staying another transfer in Independence 2nd ward. Tuesday night, transfer calls come. They go down the list... Independence 1st... 2nd... 3rd... etc. When they got to Independence 2nd, they announced two other sisters to be serving there. My name had disappeared. Sister Stoker and I were shocked because it took us by surprise! At the very end of the transfer call I was told I was going to Odessa with Sister Larson... alright! Awesome! This is the same Sister Larson that was in the MTC with me. A couple of newbies in Odessa, awesome. The next morning at the transfer bus, I was waiting for my ride and found the Assistants. They surprised me by telling me this: "Congrats, you're training!" .....What?! After some investigation, I found out that there is a Bulgarian sister that has been trying to get to the states for her mission for 3 months with no prevail. Finally she was able to make it and the President didn't know until Wednesday. So, I have been transferred to Odessa and am serving with Sister Larson, and the two of us are training Sister Tafradzhieva. Try saying that 3 times fast! Pronounced "Ta-fra-gee-eh-va". You roll the "r". Sister T is a convert to the church of about 4 years. She has one of the strongest testimonies I have heard, especially coming out of Europe. And she learned English before her mission! ... from MTV. Ha! It's different being in a trio, but a lot of fun. Communication is different as there are 3 heads and not just two. We are careful to make sure everyone gets a chance to speak and testify. Sister Larson is a rockstar, too. I'm very excited for this transfer.
A little about the ward... this ward is unreal. The bishop is really young and has 9 kids with one on the way. Everyone in the ward reachs out and extends a warm welcome and they are just FIRED UP about missionary work! I felt like I was in a dream after meeting so many of the members! We meet with the ward mission leader twice a week (who has the strongest testimony and enthusiasm of this work I have ever seen... it's actually kind of scary) and the ward missionaries actually show up to meetings! We never have a bunch of time to tract because we get so many referrals from the members. It seems like everyone and their dog is related to someone in the ward. It seems that there are maybe 5 different families in the ward because they are all related and extended family. Plus, to top it all off, I'M OUT IN THE COUNTRY!!! Odessa and the surrpunding towns remind me a lot of Oregon, just without the evergreen trees and mountains. There's a ton of farmland. Just last night we had dinner with a member that lived out in the boonies, kinda like I do at home. Gravel road and everything. I felt like I was back on Dixie Mountain believe it or not. We were driving down a long country road and I was just ecstatic about it. Hay bales... cows... horses... home. In Independence I was with just a few roads in the middle of town. The work is great, my companions are rockstars, the members have already allowed us into their homes and hearts, and I am so ready to progress in the work.
We taught an amazing lesson last Saturday. There are a pair of grandparents who has a wayward daughter, and in turn are raising 4 of their grandkids. The sisters before me here just tracted into them one day and have had so much progression with these people. For the lesson I was about to be apart of, we had planned the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We ended up taking about Faith, Baptism, Word of Wisdom, Priesthood, Temples, and bits of Repentance. Random, I know. These people are sincere with heartfelt, solid questions. They know this gospel is true. Testimonies were born and I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. They are hesitant to come to church and to pray because they feel like they may be "betraying", for lack of a better word, what they were taught their whole lives, which is completel legitimate. That's one reason how we know. They did finally accept a church tour next weekend. We are very excited to see them build that relationship with Christ to be even stronger.
Another girl here is investigating the church because her boyfriend was LDS. He passed away a year ago on July 1 and his family has basically been her best friends ever since. She has a young daughter and lives by herself but she has a heart of gold. Her boyfriend's funeral was at the church building, her first and only time, and because of that is hesitant to come to church due to past emotions. We are working with her. What's great is that Sister Larson has been here since the beginning and is already in a lot of their hearts. She has this incredible ability to care and sense the needs in people. I'm learning a lot from her. And slowly doing my part to build relationship with all of these people.
I could go on and on about the people I've met here. They just seem unreal. I feel like I'm in a dream.
I'm glad both Dad and Will received the Father's Day cards! Due to my lack of preparation I didn't send them out in time to make them there for Sunday (I don't think anyway) but I'm tickled to hear they made it. I hope Father's Day was fantastic! I don't even remember what I did for Father's Day... everything runs together unless I write it down.
So, a couple weeks ago Gretel and Sarah show up at the VC and surprised me. Last Wednesday, Kandice (my very first roommate ever at BYU-I) showed up out of nowhere and surprised me!! I haven't seen her in over 2 years!! Tender mercies...
I'd like to share a few things from my studies. I don't have my journal with me but I do remember Sister Tafradzhieva sharing a scripture that really meant a lot to her and it really brought back to me the importance of what I'm doing out here. John 15:16 starts out saying "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you". When I first received the revelation to pursue a mission, it took me by surprise as I hadn't been praying or asking if I should go on a mission. I wanted to get married in the temple! Still do! But at that moment, with two dear friends there with me, I felt the most overwhelmingly strong power flood over me. It was something I could not deny. It was then solidified by the hymn ending the meeting, Called to Serve. A lot of times, we go throughout our day just like a ball rolling without anything acting against it. I want to say Newton's 1st law... but it's been a while since I've been in school. Unless something comes in to interrupt that, nothing will change. Heavenly Father had chosen me to be here in Missouri. The experiences I am having testify to me of how real it is that the Lord knows me perfectly. I needed this. I'm so happy I followed the spirit and was pushed by such good friends to make sure I am here where I need to be. It goes along with "Many are chosen, but few are called". I want to make sure I am always worthy to be an intrument in the Lord's hands to bring about his work here on earth. Members of God's family have not yet been given an opportunity to hear the good news of the gospel. They have not yet heard "...in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
Things are great. P-days are on Monday now and now that I'm out full-pros P-days aren't as crazy. It's kinda funny. I have a list if missionaries to write now. I miss my VC SISTERS AND SENIOR COUPLES.
Cool little revelation I received... "Life outside yourself in love". Chew on it. ;)
I hope and pray that all of my loved ones at home are well and continuing to find strength in the Savior. I pray for you all every night and I know without a doubt my friends and family are well. They must me... I heard nothing but good news from everyone! :)