Monday, December 28, 2009

email of 28 December 2009

Hello hello once again!

It was SO good to talk to y'all on Friday! I hope the rest of your Christmas was great, and that Grandma's party went well also! The rest of my Christmas was really good, as was the day after, and the day after, and the day after THAT, which is today, is turning out to be pretty good too!

I can't say that anything TOO exciting or noteworthy has happened since I last talked to you, except that we had 5 investigators at church this yesterday!!! THAT is exciting, let me tell you! We have some great investigators right now, and the last week or two have been pretty miraculous in that area. We had some pretty cool experiences tracting, and were able to find about 3 people to teach, who are just ready! It's so awesome to see the light in their eyes and their countenances that just help you to see that these people truly are elect, and have been searching and are ready for the truth! One of them is Rosy, who is from Honduras. She actually took the missionary lessons there, and most of her family was baptized, but she never was. She recognized us right away when we knocked on her door, and we've been able to teach her once so far, plus having her at church this week. She's great, and really wants to be baptized, but DOES need to get married first, so we're working on that. There are several other people that live in her house who are interested as well, so we're working on teaching them as well, espeically her husband/boyfriend, Reymundo. We've met him a few times, but haven't actually taught him yet because he's always working.

We also tracted into a guy named Alberto, who is definitely one who has a "countenance". A good word to describe him would be "sober". Not in the alcoholic sense, but more along the lines of Alma 37:47 and 38:15. He's been so attentive and understanding when we've taught him, and has really felt the Spirit, especially when we asked him to pray in the first lesson. He's very humble, and we're really excited to see him progress!

One more -- Estela -- is the neighbor of a reactivated/recent convert family, who is the other one who we've really noticed a light and "elect-ness" about. She's expressed to us that she's really looking for the truth, and we can tell that she really is. She really felt the Spirit in our first lesson with her, and was so focused during the whole lesson. It was wonderful!!!

So, currently, those are our Spanish investigators, and I just love them! One of the best parts is feeling pretty able to understand and communicate with them in their own language! Not perfectly, mind you, but I think I get most of what they're saying, and they seem to understand me pretty well, so it works out great! And it's SUCH a blessing! I know that there's no way I could do this on my own, and it's really neat to be on the receiving end in this way of the gift of tongues.

Anyways, so the work is going well here! Actually, it seems to be going really exceptionally well, and we're just loving it! We have several investigators in english as well, which makes in total, 10 progressing investigators, 6 of whom have baptismal dates! Really and truly, we ought to have more with baptismal dates, but we'll be working on that this week.

Quick funny story about one of the families we're working with right now -- it's actually the recently reactivated/recent convert family who introduced Estela to the church. It's a single mom (Nicolasa) and her 5 kids, who live in the projects. We've been working with this family since we first got here; they'd become reactivated before us, and two of the kids were baptized, but they still have their struggles, and the older son was still really less active. Anyways, they've just recently started to really warm up to us (most specifically the oldest son, Juan, and the middle daughter, Rosa), which has been awesome. Anyways, so when we were over the other day, and were about to teach a lesson, we asked if Dom (the middle son) would demonstrate/teach how we pray so that everyone would know what to do. Well, he was holding the dog, Pallaso (clown in spanish), who is a pretty sad looking little one-eyed chihuahua. So he said, demonstrating using the dog, "you fold your legs, bow your head, and close your eye." SOOOO FUNNY!!!!! I know that my telling it probably doesn't give it justice, but it was hillarious!!!

alright, well, I love you all and hope you have a great week!

The church is TRUE!!!!!!!


Hermana Sallie



Monday, December 21, 2009

email of 21 December 2009


You'd best sit down for just a moment...because you're probably about to be excited out of your mind :)

You get TWO phone calls!!!

Ok, ok, so it's probably not a CRAZY super exciting deal, but still. I'll be calling sometime Thursday night to set up a time to call again on Friday. Now keep in mind that it will be a really quick call -- just long enough to set a time for Christmas day -- and may be fairly late but it's a phone call nonetheless :) We have to be in by 6pm on Christmas Eve and Day, so it'll probably be at least around 9-ish your time when I call on Thursday.

And if there's anyway do a 3-way for at least a few minutes with Joseph and his fam on Friday, that would be great. He wrote and asked if they could have 5 of my 45 minutes so that his boys could say hi and hear their Aunt Hermana Sallie's testimony, but we only get to do direct phone calls to parents; my District Leader DID say that a 3-way would be fine though.

We'll be getting mail again on Christmas Eve, so I should get your package then! I DID get a little box with some goodies from Rilda this week!!! Please make sure that she gets this little message:

Thank you SO MUCH! It was really great to get a little something from you, and to hear how your family is doing! I love the handkerchief, and the wrapped present is sitting "under" (more acurate would be "next to")our tree, just waiting to be opened up on Christmas! Thanks again for all you've done for me while I was at school, and for storing all my stuff while I'm out here on a mission! Oh yeah, and for helping me make it into the world in general :) You're really a wonderful and remarkable person, and have been such a great friend to me and our family!

It's kind of weird that Christmas is almost here. Of course the weather here is a little different -- not exactly what most people would think of as "Christmas-y," but what can you really expect in southern California? I think the main thing that really makes it feel like Christmas for us is the lights and the music. Living up at the temple apartments, there are several companionships of young sisters, as well as all the Senior missionaries that live up here, and we've been borrowing some of their Christmas music for the last week or two :)

Sis Dickson and I are really looking forward to this week! Tomorrow is packed full of appointments, then on Wednesday we're going to go caroling to a bunch of our investigators and ward members, and we also have some little gift bags to take around to several of the widows and shut-ins in our ward. Wednesday is also transfer day (and Mom's birthday :), but we're really hoping that we both get to stay together here in Marina del Rey for another transfer, though we won't find out until tomorrow night.

I'm sure you're wondering what my Christmas day will be looking like. Well, we'll probably get up around 6:15 am, go running, come back and get ready for the day (down to the shoes, just like FlyLady says!), have personal study at 8am, companionship study at 9am, and depending on our service, maybe language study at 10am. We have some sort of zone service project at a convalescent home at some point Christmas day, possibly another service opportunity at the UCLA hospital where one of our members works as a nurse, at least on visit to make to a member of our ward who will be having nonmember family members over, then Christmas dinner at our family ward RS president's home at 4pm. We'll be in at 6pm, and have the evening to study, open presents, call our families, and whatever else we decide to do. Then at 9pm we'll have our "Sacred 30" nightly planning session, then bed by 10:30!

I'm hoping to get my little package to y'all off today...totally ran out of time last week. I'll just send it to Sam and Suzan's house, and hopefully you'll get it in time for Christmas! If not, well, sorry! It's hard to plan ahead for this kinda stuff as a missionary, not to mention working it into the schedule! I know, I know, you probably don't think I should even worry about it, being a missionary and all, but it IS something I want to do :) It's nothing big -- just a few little things, as well as my latest camera memory card, so whatever I end up getting in there, enjoy!

We were talking to one of the counselors in our singles ward bishopbric yesterday, and he said something that really struck me. He just told us to really enjoy this Christmas on the mission, because (for me anyway) it's the only one I'll ever have like it! He mentioned how yeah, it's kinda sad that you're away from family and friends and all that, but we'll have how many more of those after the mission -- probably at least 50 or 60 or so! This Christmas can be extra special because it's just me, my companion, and the Savior. So I really want to make it extra special like that! This week, I've decided to study the Christmas story a little each day, and to study by characters. So today was Zacharias and Elisabeth (and John), then there's Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds and Wise Men, The Star, the Angels, and of course, Jesus. I'm excited to do this, and make it a little different and special :)

OH, and a quick little update about this last week! Sasha didn't get baptized yesterday...she backed out on the day of her interview. She's just not quite ready yet, but hopefully in a few more weeks or so! We DID have a young lady come up to us after RS on Suday and say, "So, do I have to take my lessons in order to get baptized?" JHDGKSAH;TEIWHOALKGJKLA;FOE8WYAOT4WAKFL;DSI;AYFAJ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
She's a girl who has had all the lessons before and is a really strong and active (non)member of the church. Basically a "dry mormon," but she's finally ready to take the lessons again and get baptized!!!! IT'S A MIRACLE!!!!!!!

Well, that's all until Thursday night!!!





Hermana Sallie

Thursday, December 17, 2009

email of 15 December 2009

Buenos Dias, mi familia y amigos!

"Tuesday?", you ask? Yes, this week I'm writing on a Tuesday. We had our big Christmas Zone Conference yesterday, so our P-Day was moved to today for this week. As far as I know, next week will be on Monday, as usual.Zone Conference was great, as usual, with some great training and counsel from President and Sister Blackburn, as well as the APs and some of the Zone Leaders. The four of us sisters in my zone (the Marina zone, for those of you who were or were not wondering...) did a special musical number, and it turned out really nicely. It was a Sally DeFord arrangement of "What Child is This?", and is really a beautiful arrangement! The Christmas ZC is a little longer than usual, with a big group picture taken at the beginning, and a fun little Christmas program at the end, after dinner. "Santa" (Pres. Blackburn) came and read us all "The Grinch," which was SO fun!!! After he read to us, we each had a chance to come up, and the Elders got to sit on Santa's lap for a picture and a little gift, while the Sisters got to go and stand by Santa...also for a picture and a gift. :) It was really fun! I'm actually really enjoying Christmas on the mission, and almost wish that I got two! But that's fine...I'm reallly trying to live it up all I can, especially now that I have less than a year left! AAAAAAH.

We have a little tiny (as in maybe 6 inches tall) Christmas tree up in our apartment, a little wreath on our door, and the Senior couple who live next door put lights up along the railing out front :) MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! I'll take some pictures of everything and send it home so that you can see what our little L.A. Christmas looks like :) Maybe I'll try to get some pictures of the temple all decorated too!

By way of mission business, we were asked yesterday to please write home and ask our families to please NOT call the mission office unless it's something really urgent. The office is really busy, and I guess they've gotten a few calls along the lines of "Did Elder...get his package yet?" or, "Do you know if my son needs more socks?" or, "I didn't hear from my missionary last week - is everything ok?" So yeah... I'm not terribly worried about y'all calling, but thought I'd mention it anyway. They told us to tell our families to just think, "If my son/daughter was on a mission in Mongolia, would I make this phone call?" and judge by that.

ANYWAYS... We have a baptism coming up this Sunday!!! And Grandma Lynes, guess what? She's Russian!!! She's actually from Uzbekistan, but is and speaks Russian. Her name is Sasha Rubini, and she's just great! She actually just moved to the US back in October, and married a brother in our ward, which was her connection to learning about the church. She doesn't speak very much English (though she IS learning very quickly, and no, her husband doesn't speak Russian...and no, I don't really know how that works either), so we've taught her through a translator this whole time. It's been such a cool experience, and a really good opportunity for the brother in our ward who translates to brush up on his Russian! Bro James (our translator) actually mentioned last night how really awesome this has been! He said it's been really neat to see Sasha, and to see how completely open and prepared she was to receive the gospel. She reads everything we give her in her Russian BofM, she prays, she has a testimony of Joseph Smith, and is willing to keep all of the commandments, no problem! Last night we taught the WoW, and although she's a coffee drinker, she said she'd give it up! It's been a little bit challenging because between the language barrier and the fact that she tends to be fairly shy, it was kind of hard to tell exactly where she was testimony-wise at first, but she's since opened up a lot more, and really is SO GREAT!!! We watched "The Restoration" with her in Russian last night, which was really cool too! So yeah, we're really excited for her baptism this Sunday! Keep us in your prayers!!!

WELCOME HOME, ALEX!!!!! Don't worry, I'll hold down the missionary work for ya out here in the field if you'll help me readjust when my time comes! Hope you had an amazing mission, and that your "transistion" goes well! God Speed, Elder, I know the Lord is proud of you for all that you've done in serving an honorable mission!

Alright, well I'm about out of time again. Please know that I love you and that I'm doing well. I really do love it out here, ups and downs and all!

The church is true, and so is the Book of Mormon!

"Be good, and no more sadness!"


I <3 Being a missionary!


Hermana Sallie

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

email of 09 December 2009

Questions first, then I'll talk :)

Any suggestions on packaging your Christmas box? Has everything arrived OK so far? (Halloween box OK?)

So far, everything has arrived just fine, so whatever you've done before will probably work great again.

What will your schedule be like for Christmas Eve and Day?

I have no idea yet...we should find out either this week at interviews or next week at Zone Conf.

Will you just stay in or is it prime teaching time?

I'm fairly sure that ON Christmas day we stay in, but I'm not sure on the details or on either of the days surrounding Christmas. Holidays are kind of tough though for missionary work...on the one hand, everyone's home and with their families (or out of town), but on the other hand, no one wants to be bothered. So we'll see.

Will you be having a zone/district party or anything like that?

I don't know, but I think that's a GREAT idea! Again, we'll probably find out this week.

Any idea what time you will be calling? (Y A Y !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CAN'T WAIT TO TALK TO YOU!!!!!!!!!!!)

Sorry, I'm also not sure on this one, though I am pretty sure that I'll just call you from the cell phone that we have -- nights, weekends, and holidays are free, so I think that that will be the arrangement. I'll let you know for sure when I find out. What time would be best, and what number should I call? Dad mentioned in his last snail mail (which was the only snail mail I got this week -- thanks Dad!) that if I can call before 12 EST, SSs will be there, but we'll see how it all goes down :)
I DO know that I'll have 45 minutes, so be ready for that.

Do you have a CD player? I assume this is the best way to get you music--make a CD and send it to you.

Yep! And that would be great...make me a couple of cds if you want :) I DID actually buy 2 CDs today at the dist. store...just the primary songs in spanish and a MoTab CD...Sounds of Glory or something like that. So I'm still wide open for anything else you'd like to send! OH, and in addition to our normal "acceptable" music, for Christmas we are also allowed to listen to "tradition carols by LDS artists" as well, so anything Christmas you want to send my way would be fabulous!

Is there anything you need me to send to you?

Hmmm...not especially, though if you happen to run across any other cute sweaters from the houses you clean, I certainly wouldn't be opposed to that :) It's actually pretty cold (highs barely in the 60s, lows in the 40s...hey, temperature is relative!) here, so that would be fine. If you feel the urge to include panty hose (I know most elders get socks, etc...), I like jet black or suntan, with reinforced toes.


I got emails from Bro. Tustian and Bishop Tolman this week -- Thank you thank you thank you so much!!! It was GREAT to hear from both of you! ...however, due to mission rules, I need to have any/all emails from anyone outside of my immediate family come THROUGH my immediate family. So if anyone who wants to email me could just send the emails to you (mom or dad or any of the boys), then you can forward them on to me, and that'd be great! I know it seems like a little bit of overkill, but rules are rules, and there are blessings for obedience!

This week was great! We had a baptism this past Saturday for an incredible girl named Karen. She was actually almost completely taught by the previous sisters, so all we did was get the service organized, etc, but it was great! Hopefully we'll have a few more coming up here soon, but it all depends on how they're progressing. It's so great to be a missionary though, and to see all these different people and their different lives and their progression in the gospel! Sometimes when we're out (mostly as we're driving from our apartment to our area each day), I just look at all the people we pass by, and just wonder about them. What are they thinking? Where are they going? What do they do for work, and what is their family like? What big joy or tragedy just happened in their lives or with their families? What kinds of questions do they have? Do they know that there's a God who knows and loves them? There are SO MANY people in this world, and all of them SO DIFFERENT! And Heavenly Father somehow knows and loves them all!!! It's amazing.

Today we got to go to the temple, and boy did I need it!!! I haven't been to do an endowment session since my first transfer (last time we went I did initiatories), and it was so good to just go and sit and listen and feel and remember! Oh, to go and escape from this crazy city and commune with God was so wonderful! If you haven't gone lately, GO!!! And if you can't go right now, GET THERE!!!

I have a quick question in the way of needing advice. Especially from those of you who have served missions, but also from anyone else who has any thoughts, how can I respond to those people who pull the "We all worship the same God" line? It's so hard to figure out how to help them understand that this is SO MUCH MORE than that! YES we all worship the same God, and that's the most important thing, but why don't people get the importance of the apostasy and the restoration and the real, true Priesthood authority, and that it DOES matter?!?! Any thoughts or ideas would be appreciated :)

Well, my little 5 minute warning just popped up, so I'll finish up here. The church is true, the Lord lives and has called a living prophet in our day! The Book of Mormon and the Bible are the word of God to lead us and guide us and help us truly know His will. We CAN all return and live with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and our families FOR-E-VER!!!!!


I LOVE YOU!!!!!!


Mucho Amor,
Hermana Sallie

Monday, November 30, 2009

email of 30 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, I'm going to try to get the pictures to work, but I may not be able to "due to restrictions on this computer"....

Anyways, My week has been GREAT! How about yours?

Thanksgiving on the mission is a little different...still good, just not quite the same. And actually, this Thanksgiving was really great; Wednesday, we got to go down to the Santa Monica Civic Center to help set up for their "2009 Thanksgiving Feast!", which is one of the most awesome things I've ever seen or done as far as service projects go. What it is, is a HUGE Thanksgiving feast, primarily for the homeless and those in need, but also just for anyone who needs a place on Thanksgiving. It's amazing though--besides the TONS of donated food, they also have lots of really awesome free services that people come together to offer. They set up a fairly big clothing "store" full of great donated clothing that people can go shopping in (all clothing is free), there are free haircuts and makeup, several jumpers (moon bounce things...they're really popular out here), free pony rides for the kids, a photo booth, free medical, eye and dental screening, hygiene kits, extra food and blankets to take home, etc. It was awesome. So we helped to set things up on Wednesday, and then on Thursday we came back and helped to serve. As we were helping on Wednesday, we were unloading a bunch of stuff from the back of a big semi that was full of donated items, and as we were doing so, someone in the truck dropped a jar of turkey gravy, which hit the edge of the truck and pretty much exploded on my companion and I. Yep, turkey gravy. A-L-L O-V-E-R. It was great.

It was actually a very spiritual experience for me to be there and serve and to see all the love and care from the thousands of volunteers who donate time, food, clothing, money, etc, and then to see the people who came in that we were able to serve, some of whom literally carried their entire lives in a book bag. It really brought back memories of the soup kitchen for me too :) Thanks for that, by the way. That little service that we did each month for so long has really made a difference and an impact on my life, and I just want you to know that for as many of those days that I whined about it, now I'm really grateful for the experience.

As for our actual Thanksgiving dinner, we just went over to the Bishop's house and ate with them; it was a nice little dinner.

The rest of our week was good too. Actually, on Friday we ran into a guy named Alex who basically invited himself to church...AND HE ACTUALLY CAME!!!!!!!!! And then our Gospel Principles lesson was on the Law of Chastity...oh boy. We were sure praying the whole way through the lesson! Turns out though, that he really enjoyed it! Said it was good to see/hear that "there are still girls out there with real morals, ya know?" The Spirit pointed out to me later as I was pondering that I need to have more faith...

Then, in the single's ward, who should I run into but Jessica Gunson, who was out here for the holiday! Wow! I don't think I'd seen her in about 5 years! It was crazy, but really fun too!

Mom, as for music, I would LOVE some David Tolk/Paul Cardall (as long as it's all hymns or primary songs), any other Mo-Tab, etc. Just as long as it's hymns, primary songs, or classical (100+ years old); any arrangements. Oh, and I LOVE the Lex deAzevedo cd's that Sam had/listened to on his mission! Please no single's ward though...thanks :)

Ok, that's about all my time...sorry this is a bit scattered and not super spiritual, but just know that I AM having great spiritual experiences, and that my testimony grows every day here!!!

I Love Being a Missionary!!!

I Love YOU!!!!!


Your Hermana Sallie


ps I'll try to send pictures next week...I couldn't get it to work on the comp here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

email of 23 November 2009

This one will be shorter than usual...I spent most of my time writing a few personal emails, so I've only got about 10 minutes.

This week has been great! Sister Dickson and I are really loving the work here! We're really working and praying for more inverstigators to teach, and are specifically working an having greater faith, both individually and as a companionship. We're really excited to have found the "Spanish area" of our area; Hispanic apartment buildings are the best for tracting and finding, so we're excited to know where those are around here! There are a lot of relatively wealthy white people around here, and, sadly, for the most part, they aren't generally very interested in hearing about the Gospel. SOME of them are though, which is why we're here! The work just keeps moving forward!

How are all the Thanksgiving plans coming? We're probably going to go over to the Bishop's for our Thanksgiving dinner, though nothing's set in stone yet. It WAS pretty funny to hear him say that they'd have two pumpkin pies, "and that should be plenty"...TWO PUMPKIN PIES?!? I guess I'm just accustomed to Thanksgiving on a slightly larger in 15 or 20 pies...and then some :)

I'm coming to realize just how important and key faith is as the basis of our testimonies. And not just faith, but faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Without that, whithout Him, nothing else really matters, and all this great "gospel knowledge" and understanding that we have really doesn't mean anything. He IS the Rock of our salvation, and the very focus of our faith.

Also, something that I really like from sacrament meeting yesterday is this: It's through simple acts of obedience and submission that we come to know the Lord and to have our hearts and very natures changed. Change and transformation IS possible. Just look at Saul/Paul.

The Church is true, the Savior lives, He loves us!

I Love you, and I love being a missionary!


Hermana Sallie


Monday, November 16, 2009

email of 16 November 2009

Hello My Dear Family!!!

WELL! What a week it has been!
Brand new companion, brand new area, brand new everything, almost!

I LOVE it though!

My new companion is Sister Dickson, from Virginia (the D.C. area), and she's WONDERFUL! I'm pretty sure I ended up with one of the easiest missionaries to train ever...she pretty much came trained. She really is great -- she loves the work and is super excited for it, she's a great teacher, she works hard, and just loves being here! The very first day, when we take the brand new missionaries out tracting for a few hours, I actually got to go with her (this was before they decided who was training who...they just pair the new missionaries up with whatever trainer and then send us out), and I was just amazed. She was really excited to go out and work, and at the first door, she just opened up her mouth and went for it! I was scared to death that first day!!! Anyways, she's great. Her spanish is really good too, and she loves to speak it at any chance. We're really enjoying working together here, and as challenging as it is to "flush"/"whitewash" an area, it's been fun and I wrote last week: refreshing, yet stretching. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have Sister Dickson for a companion though; I don't think I could have asked for a better "goldie" (that's what we call greenies here in the CLAM), or even a better companion for this adventure!!!

Speaking of my new area, Marina del Rey is BEAUTIFUL!!! ESPECIALLY down by the marina...all the boats, and the smell of the salt's great! The demographic and just overall feel of this area is completely different than Downey, but I love it! It's much more laid-back, and yet much more professional and high-tech at the same time (the overall population here is quite a bit wealthier than in Downey). It's been challenging to figure out what to do and how to work here, especially since neither one of us knows the area, but I feel like we're finally starting to get it, and are finally getting more things into our schedule than just tracting/contacting. It took a little while those first few days to kinda get a feel for the area, and to figure out what works well, but we decided to just work as hard as we can, keep all the rules, follow the Standards of Excellence, and pray pray pray!!! We're both feeling really good about this upcoming week, especially after church yesterday. We're covering 3 different wards here: Westdale 2nd (a family/mid-singles ward), Santa Monica 3rd (a young singles ward), and La Cienega (a spanish ward). So far, we really love them; there's just so much life in these wards! This week, we decided to be bold and really use being brand-new to our advantage. So during ward council, we asked the bishops if we could have a couple of minutes during sacrament meeting to stand up and introduce ourselves and maybe bear our testimonies. They, of course, were happy to let us; so during sacrament meeting we stood up, introduced ourselves, and took just a few minutes to let the whole ward know that we are SO excited to be here in their ward, and that we're looking forward to visting and getting to know them, and that we're ready to work hard in this area of the Lord's vineyard. And then the bold part...we told them that our purpose as missionaries here in Marina del Rey is to BAPTIZE, and we're here to do it! Yep, straight from the pulpit. We read a few verses from the BofM that talk about that, and then just said it straight out: we're here to baptize! The thing is, we KNOW that the field here really is white, and here we are, ready to harvest! That means baptism, and THAT means that we need their help!

Anyways, it was pretty exciting, and we were able to meet a lot of great members; These wards are great, and we really ARE excited to be here, to work, and to baptize! The great thing about being flushed into an area, especially with a goldie, is that neither one of you really knows WHAT to expect (as far as stereotypes, etc), so you just go for it with all you've got! PLUS, with Sis. Dickson, I've got the extra bit of "greenie-fire" that comes out of the MTC. LOVE IT!!!

Alrighty, I'm about done, but just a few more quick things:

If somebody could maybe facebook Jessica Gunson for me, I just wanted to let her know that I'm now serving in her old singles ward -- Santa Monica 3rd -- and she's still remembered and loved :)

We're going to head over to Target today because I need to buy another sweater or's chillier here than in Downey.

Oh! I don't think that I ever said thank you for my favorite part of that package that you sent me -- the homemade GRANOLA!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!! I have been thoroughly enjoying it!

Ok, well, that's about it for this week. I love and miss you all tons, but I am LOVING being a missionary here in California, and I'm safe and happy and well!

I Love You!!!

I Love Being a Missionary!!!

Hermana Sallie


pps We met an old jewish woman from Romania this week who thinks that Jesus was just a chiropractor...yeah...

Monday, November 9, 2009

email of November 9 2009

I’m going to have a baby!

...In mission lingo, that means that I'm going to be TRAINING.


That's And not just training, but FLUSH training. THAT means that I'm going to an entirely new area, and will be getting an entirely and brand new companion to work with there.

It's kind of a big deal. And I'm kind of scared to death. But also kind of excited. In the words of Elder Gold (one of our APs), it will be a refreshing and also stretching experience for me. So tomorrow I will, once again, be taking my beloved companion up to the mission home, and leaving her there for her final day with the President and his wife (and all the other departing missionaries). Then I'll come back and work with another sister whose companion is going home for the day. Wednesday morning, Sister Tavares, my incredible companion, will fly home to Argentina to start her life all over again. She's really nervous. A little bit LATER on Wednesday morning, I will be going up to the mission home, taking my stuff up to the temple apartments (right behind the mission home and temple), where I'll be living and training for at least the next 6 weeks, then heading over to the Westwood chapel (right behind the temple apartments) to do our little 1st day/Trainer's training dealy-o. Wednesday night I'll go home to a new home, with a brand-new, fresh-from-the-MTC companion. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOH dear, I only hope that I'm up to the task. Well, actually, I know that the Lord will make me up to the task, and that makes everything ok. But I'm still nervous. I feel very inadequate, but also very excited. I know that this really will be a growing experience for me!

My new area will be Marina del Rey -- close to the ocean! I'll also get to come home to the sight of the L.A. temple all lit up every night! AND, all the Christmas lights are going up and should be turned on sometime right after Thanksgiving, so that will be wonderful! However, I'm leaving my dear, beloved Downey, with all of my amazing investigators and recent converts, which makes me sad. It's how the mission goes though, and I know the sister (who will also be training) who will be coming in, and I'm SO grateful that she's the one taking over. She'll be great!

I DID finally get the Halloween package -- THANK YOU!!!!! We thoroughly enjoyed it, and yes, I most definitely shared with the elders in my district and zone!

I have some semi-bad news...You know that cute little Halloween card I sent you? Well, just minutes after that picture was taken, we were taking another picture, and my camera was dropped. on the floor of CVS. and then it wouldn't work anymore.
Our Bishop here knows someone who does camera stuff, and took it to get looked at, but the guy said that with the part (something with the lense) and labor, it would probably be easier, and possibly cheaper, to just buy a new camera. I was really sad because I LOVED that camera!

THANKFULLY, all of my pictures are fine; it's just that my camera is completely out of commission at the moment :( I haven't really decided what to do about it yet, but just so that you know, I won't be emailing any pictures anytime real soon.
My companion was actually the one who dropped the camera, and she has felt SO BAD about it. She may or may not be trying to replace it once she gets home, but I told her not to worry too much about it - it was an accident, and I'd feel bad having her pay to replace it. I don't know....

ANYWAYS, on to happier news!

We had a baptism yesterday!!! Vilma was baptized, and it was wonderful! Something that I've learned about baptisms though, at least as a missionary, it seems that things ALWAYS come up/happen right up until the very last minute to interfere with the baptism! Darn satan...always trying to ruin our plans!!! Thankfully, the Lord always steps in too, and things usually go off just fine.

Today, as it's Sister Tavares's last day, and P-day, we've gotten to go to a few of her old areas and see a few of her recent converts. It's been so fun! We had breakfast in Marina del Rey (her first area, where I'm headed!), then went over to Westwood, where we had lunch with some of the funniest people I've ever met! They're two old Jewish women who were baptized in their 60's, I believe (both of them had to wait until their parents died before getting baptized), and they're just hysterical! They also had a good friend there, who is a Muslim from Kuwait. It was SO interesting to talk to him!

So far on my mission, I've met LOTS of Hispanics (Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Chile, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Mexico, Mexico), a few people from Spain, a Japanese couple, two Egyptians, a German, and now a Kurd (I think that's how you say it...from Kuwait)!
Anyways, we're about to have 2 dinners...uuuuuuuuugh...and THEN we're going to stop by Ron's (one of our favorite investigators), who is cooking us fresh lobster that he caught last week. He also gave us an aloe vera plant, so now we can be like everyone else in California (it seems like EVERYONE has aloe plants here!).

Anyways, things here are going amazing for me! It was great hearing from all of you again this week! Have fun with Samuel and Jacob :) and keep keeping the commandments!!!



Hermana Sallie


Monday, November 2, 2009

email of 2 November 2009

Querido familia mia,
(Keh-ree-doh fah-mee-lee-ah mee-ah....means dear family of mine)

Thank you so so much for all the email last week and this week! I DO love getting on and having lots to read, but if something happens, no worries - I'm not on a mission just for the mail ;) In fact it's something I've really had to work on - not living from mail day to mail day. I do love getting mail, it just isn't the ONLY thing I love :)

So this week the questions were from Dad!

P-day schedule:
P-day is usually about as follows (except for temple pdays or night pdays, or "something else weird happened" pdays) :

Up at 615, start laundry at member's house, exercise, home, prepare (shower/breakfast, etc), personal study at 8, companionship study at 9, district or zone activity from 1030-12, and then from 12-6 to do everything else we need to do; email, groceries, wash the car (every week), clean the apartment (home-blessing:), write snail mail letters, etc. At 6 we go back to work, and work as normal. For email, we come to the library, and have 60 minutes (timed) to use the computer. I usually get on, read/skim my emails, send them to the printer and then write. When I send my little "I'm on! 54 minutes" email, that just means that I'll be only for the next however many minutes, so if you have anything else you'd like to write for me to get before the following monday, that's your time frame. We're allowed however much time we can squeeze out of the rest of the pday to write regular letters, but with everything we have to get done, it tends to go by really fast, and I'm lucky to get one or two letters written.

And that's about it. :) Sometimes we have "free pday," which means no district/zone activity, so that's some good extra time for us to do stuff. Temple pday just moves our pday to Wednesday, and night pday means that we work until 1pm, then have pday as normal, but until 9 instead of 6, usually with a district/zone activity in the evening. That's actually what's happening today.

As far as the other super-secret-ninja address, sorry Charley, but all mail's gotta go through the mission home. That's fine though - it's all part of the deal.
I AM realy excited to get the halloween package though! I should probably get it on Friday. For Halloween, we had to be in at 6pm instead of 9, and had the time to do pretty much whatever we liked (within mission rules, of course). I made soup and wrote letters (oh, AND did monthly numbers...).

I will certainly continue to send lots of prayers your way! Don't worry though, as long as you're all keeping the commandments, God's gonna prosper you - He has too; He promised. :) I just read about that this week in my personal study. And no, there's no way that I'll make it through the entire BofM this was just a little much. I DID make it all the way through the small plates of Nephi and Words of Mormon though! And guess what? The Book of Mormon's amazing! Of course :)

We had an amazing zone conference this last week! Our President and his wife spoke, the AP's trained (we have some excellent APs -- I always really thoroughly enjoy and learn great things from their training.), two sets of zone leaders trained, and we also had a guest speaker. Brother Preston Jay Waite, who's actually the former US Census Director, came and spoke to us. He's a good friend of President Blackburn's from back when thye were both living and working in D.C. His talk was so good! He talked a lot about obedience and integrity, and the blessings that come from them. President Blackburn is one who truly has an obedient spirit, and as such is very firm about us being exactingly obedient as well. He's no tyrant or anything -- quite the contrary! He simply understands well the blessings that come from being obedient (D/C 130:20-21), and wants that for each of us individually, and for our mission as a whole. I'm coming to understand better the blessings that come from that as well, especially when we're obedient because we WANT to be, and because we love the Lord, and not because "we're 'post to" (Thank you brother bytheway).

We also have a new mission challenge to work toward that we're all really excited about! We're going to have a "White Christmas" in L.A.! We've been promised that with our obedience and sacrifice, each companionship in the entire mission CAN and WILL baptize in the month of December! That's about 180 baptisms! :) With the challenge, each district/zone will be taking pictures of all the missionaries in white, to be put up in the mission office, and with each baptism, we'll be taking pictures of our recent converts in white at their baptism, also to be posted in the mission office. It's going to be so good, and I'm really excited!

We've been seeing some really great miracles lately -- Ron is continuing to progress; he came to church again on Sunday, and is praying about a Dec. 5th baptismal date! He's doing so good, and we're so happy for him! Vilma will be getting baptized this coming Sunday, which we're also thrilled about. We took her to a baptism yesterday, and she really loved it. She's wonderful. We're just starting to teach a few different people and families who really get and understand what we're teaching, and I can't tell you how awesome that is!!! AHHHH I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!!

I do, as always, send my love and prayers. I love and miss you more than you know, but it really is an awesome thing to be about the Lord's business in this way. I'm so grateful for the opportunity.

I Love You!
I Love Being a Missionary!

Hermana Sallie


Monday, October 26, 2009

email from 26 October 2009

GOOOOOOOOOD MORNIN'!!!!!!!!! It's the Sister Wilson Show on the email!!!!

(Ok, ok, so it doesn't work quite as well as JB&B, but ya know...)

I'd like to thank el Rolo y su familia por finalmente esciribiendo a mi ;)

As much as I'd LOVE to listen to the sound clips, I'd have to use headphones, and can't because that's against mission rules...I'll just use my imagination, I guess...

This week has been really good! I've been feeling like our work is slowing down a bit, but I think it's picking back up, which is good! We had 4 investigators at church yesterday -- FOUR!!!!!!!!! Maybe that doesn't sound like much, but with the way the last while has been, that's huge for us! First of all, our WML and his wife brought a couple to church last week, and they came again this week. They're a wonderful couple, and we're really hoping that they'll progress! They speak spanish, and since our english ward only has gospel doctrine in spanish, we just taught them a L1 (la Restauracion) during SS, and it was really really good! We're going to try to take them up to the information center (our temporary visitor's center) to see the JS movie next week, and they seemed pretty excited about that!

Next, we have Vilma. Vilma is a former investigator that we started teaching, and she's amazing! She loves the BofM, she LOVES church, she loves having us come teach, she's making friends with the members, she's getting baptized on the 8th of November!!! She also has two incredible grandkids - Belen y Gustavo (who are 9 and 11), who also love when we come to teach, and love church and everything! AND they really seem to get what we're teaching. Belen even told us this week that she wants to be baptized! We just got permission to officially teach the kids, and are hoping that they'll be able to get baptized with their grandma on the 8th as well!

And last, but not least, we have Ron. IF I had a favorite investigator -- which I don't -- but if I DID, Ron would probably of them :) We found Ron as a referral that came in from an Elder serving in WV. Ron is a lifelong best friend of a member who lives not to far away, and is also really great friends with his son (the Elder who sent us the referral). Ron is one of the reasons that the world needs Sister missionaries. Several years ago he had Elders who were trying to teach him, but he scared them away. However, he has a real soft spot for sisters, and can't tell us no. He (like pretty much everyone we meet and teach) has had a really rough life - both of his parents died when he was young, his sister died recently, he had and barely survived throat cancer (and as a result of the radiation can't eat solid foods and has a speech impediment), he was a hard drug user and smoker/drinker for most of his life (has been sober for a few years now, but still smokes...we're working on that) and when we met him, was pretty bitter towards, well, everything. He was pretty much atheist, and figured that if there was a God, He was punishing him (Ron) for living.

It has been the most amazing experience to teach him and see the little changes that he's making, to see the light coming into his eyes, to hear him pray, and talk about feeling the Spirit, just everything! And yesterday he came to church!!!!! AND he enjoyed it!!!! AND HE TOLD THE BISHOP THAT HE'S GOING TO KEEP COMING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!! I can't tell you the joy that that brings to a missionary's soul! The gospel is A-mazing, and SO TRUE!!!!
My current favorite scripture (and one that I share a lot) is 3 Nephi 9:13-14.

13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?
14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine carm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.

I would just like to bear testimony that that is true! He loves us -- ALL of us, and he's always there, with His arms outstretched to us, if we'll just COME. I've experienced it in my life personally, and, as a missionary, I've had the incredible experience to see it work in other's lives as well. Don't believe me? I dare you to try it yourself.

A few others that I also especially love lately are : Jacob 3:1, Proverbs 3:5-6, and Matt. 11:28-30 AND, you should try a little comparison between 1 Nep 8 and Psalm 119:105.

The church is true!!!
I love and miss you all!!!



Hermana Sallie


Monday, October 19, 2009

email of 19 October 2009

Dearest, Darlingest Mumsy and Popsickle,

FIRST of all, someone needs to tell my big, older, slacker of a brother, who, to protect his identity I'll refer to simply as "the Rolo", that I would like to hear from him more often than once every 3 months, and would be willing to accept his apology in an email next Monday afternoon :)

...Because I LOVE and miss and want to hear from and all about Sam and Suz and Buster and their lives!!!!!

That's all.

Now on to the rest of the email :)

This is going to be a little on the short side because I read and wrote a few other emails first, and only have 17 minutes left.


I just needed to say that.

I've had a pretty good week here in Downey, CA. The weather has been really weird though - it was really nice -- sunny and hot as usual, then got downright chilly! And I was thinking, "how nice -- some real FALL weather!" It even rained and everything! And THEN, two days later, it was almost 100 degrees again! Ick. Oh well, it's all good; the work continues on! Appointments, lessons, study, referrals, Spanish struggles, tracting, splits, dinner appointments, planning, finding and teaching God's children that He loves them and has a plan for them...Yep, that's the life of a missionary. I need to take better advantage of my time with a native Spanish speaker, in an area with a fair amount of Spanish. It's hard though, and I know that I tend to get a bit lazy. Learning Spanish in the US is hard because there's just too darn much English! We hear and have a lot of lessons in Spanglish, which is pretty funny, and I definitely need to work harder at getting out of my comfort zone and speaking more Spanish. It's coming, but not as quickly as it could.

Remember Hector? The one with the awful house that we cleaned about 2 months ago, who stole the scriptures and was meeting with the missionaries? HE GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!! I so wish I could have been there, but we never actually served in the area, even though we helped teach him a few times, so we couldn't go. I was talking to the sisters though, and they said that it was beautiful! He's been going to church pretty steadily for the last 2 months or so, and finally got baptized! And it really is amazing what a different person he is now. He even painted their house! In the words of one of the sisters there, "It's downright cozy!" now :) The Gospel is AMAZING!!!

I've been thinking a little bit over the last few days...just some questions that have crossed my mind that I don't totally have answers to yet, just that I've been thinking about. And for no particular reason, here is a piece of the inside of my head:

What lack I yet?
What motivates people?
Why here, why now? Why am I here seeing what I'm seeing, meeting who I'm meeting, learning what I'm learning, having the experiences that I'm having? What's the purpose in it? Just what is the Lord trying to teach me and prepare me for? What is it that I need to learn and do?

Missions make you think.

I LOVE hearing from you every week! Mom, congrats on the sunbeams--that'll be so great, and I know you'll love it!
Keep up everything good, and leave behind all the bad!
Heavenly Father is real, and He loves us all!!!!!!!!

I love you!!!

I love being a missionary!!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

email of 13 October 2009

Holy Hannah, 10 New emails!!!!! THAT was fun to see when I got on today! Thank you so much - I LOVE YOU!!!!!

Clearly someone wasn't thinking about missionaries and their P-days when they made half of our federal holidays on Mondays! It's ok though--I'm grateful that I at least don't have to wait an entire week before hearing from and writing to you!

This week....
WE HAD A BAPTISM!!!!!!! We've been teaching this particular young woman for just over 6 weeks, and she was finally able to get baptized on Sunday! I realize that 6 weeks is not all that terribly long, but the interesting thing with Elizabeth is that she'd been pushing US to get baptized. When we first met her, we were watching the Restoration DVD with her dad, and she asked us if our church did baptisms, and if so, could she be baptized? ...Uh, yeah! She had some pretty big personal obstacles she had to overcome though, and so it took a little while longer than she wanted to be able to be baptized. She has some mental/psychological problems that make it difficult for her to totally understand or comprehend things very quickly. She's very sweet and sincere though, and had been SO anxious to be baptized! So anxious, in fact, that she actually got pretty mad when we told her we needed to postpone it a few weeks. But it all worked out! I tell you what though, Satan sure tried to get in the way! The DAY BEFORE the baptism, she had her wisdom teeth taken out. THE DAY BEFORE!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAHH!!! So then she was a little late for church, and wanted to go home part way through Sunday school to get her pain medication from her dad. She said she'd be right back...

So we went on to Sacrament mtg (church is a reversed block here, with PH/RS first, then SS, then SM), Elizabeth. They went to announce the baptism from the pulpit, and...still no Elizabeth. I was DYING!!! The bishop was kind of looking at me like "What's going on and why isn't she here?" from the pulpit, and all I could do was mouth, "She's Coming!!!" and want to just shrink away. Sacrament came and Elizabeth.

I really don't know if I can adequately describe a missionary's thoughts and feelings when something like this happens.

So finally, I grabbed the sister who was my companion for church (we were on splits since we cover two wards), and we went to Elizabeth's house to find out what the heck was going on. When we got there, she said, "Oh, sorry - my dad's still not back yet with the medicine." After taking a deep semi-calming breath, I said, "Elizabeth. You're getting baptized TODAY. You HAVE to come to church!!! Why don't you just call your dad and have him bring your medicine to the church when he gets here? You can sit at home and wait, or you can sit at church and wait, and if you're going to be baptized today, you need to be a church." She said ok, and we took her back to church. After that, everything went off pretty smoothly, and it actually ended up being a beautiful baptismal service! When she came up out of the water, she kind of laughed and exclaimed, "That was fun!" And at the end of the service, the bishop invited her to come up and bear her testimony. My companion and I were a little nervous because we hadn't talked to her or gone over any of this kind of thing with her, and we weren't sure what she was going to say. She was actually really sweet and sincere though, and talked about how happy she was, and how grateful she was to have the church in her life, that she was glad that we'd taught her about "the Mormon book" - that it had brought a lot of peace and happiness, and then she ended with "And just, God is good. ...Thank you." and sat down. It was so good! And really, it's moments like these that make it all worth it!

Something kind of fun that I've been meaning to write about, but keep forgetting is a fun little song that my trainer wrote about sister missionaries. We call it the "Missionariettes" song. It's sung to the tune of a Mary Poppins song (the one that the mom and the maids sing, marching around in their women's rights stuff towards the beginning of the movie...I hope you know which one I'm talking about), and goes like this:

(Note: This is the Sister Suffragette song . . . Google it–it’s on youtube and you can hear the song.)

We're merely Elders in pantyhose,
Fearless crusaders for human souls!
Though we'll adore L.A. eternally,
We admit that as a whole,
They're ra-ther sin-ful...
SO! Cast off rejection from yesterday!
Crying repentance throughout L.A.!
Our recent converts will adore us,
And the'll sing in grateful chorus:
WELL DONE! Missionariettes!

I LOVE it! Make sure to sing it wil a strong British accent, and harmonize on "and they'll sing in grateful chorus:" :)

Now, for something on a more spiritual note...

I'm trying to read the Book of Mormon this transfer (which translates to 12 pages a day, if you're wondering), and although I'm behind, I LOVE it! It's just so amazing to me, and I can't help but think and feel and know as I read it just how true it is! We had an experience a few weeks ago that I've thought a lot about; we were tracting, and we met a lady who was nice to us, but absolutely NOT interested. She'd had a bad experience with members in the past, and just didn't like "our ways" very much. As we visited briefly with her and tried to share something, she said, "Well you see, you've got a problem here - see, I don't believe in the Joseph Smith seeing angels, and Mormon book stuff. In fact, I'm pretty sure that we had taken a little too much acid, and that's what happened." We talked for a few more minutes and then moved on, but as I've reflected on that, it just kills me! It was during my personal study the next morning that it really hit me. ACID?!?! He'd taken too much acid?!?!?! AAAAUGH!!! As I opened up the Book of Mormon and began to read, I was really struck with how true it is, and how utterly impossible it was that it was written in any other way than by inspiration and the gift and power of God! OH, if people only knew! If they would just READ the Book of Mormon and see the power and truth that is there, they would know!!! Actually, I do know and understand that people can and do read the Book of Mormon and don't realize that (because they don't want to, and they don't have or invite the Spirit as they do), but I wish that everyone did! I love the scriptures!!! As I read (sang) in 2 Nephi 4:15-16 this morning, "For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them..."

Thank you so much, Dad and Mom, for raising us with and teaching us of the scriptures! I know that they're true, and I'm SO grateful for the knowledge that I have!!!
The church is true!!!!!!!!

I Love Being a missionary!!!

I LOVE YOU!!!!!!

Hermana Sallie


Monday, October 5, 2009

email of 04 October 2009

My dearly beloved family,

Well, another week come and gone in the mission field -- they go by so fast! It really is so true what they say - the days are long, but the weeks fly by!

Conference was WONDERFUL!!! You remember that clip of missionaries that they showed during one of the talks? That's from a series of DVD's we refer to here in the mission field as the "Preach My Gospel DVDs," aka "The District." They're training dvds that they show in the MTC and in the mission field -- and they're real missionaries and investigators and experiences and everything, so that was pretty cool to see at conference :) There was SO MUCH that I loved at conference, but I don't have my notes with me...I'll share something specific maybe next week...

Elder Holland's testimony was incredible. I'm pretty sure that that's the most powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon that I've ever heard in my life! And I loved Sis. Dibb's talk...and all of them!

I was thinking too how it was this time exactly a year ago that I felt the prompting to serve a mission. Lo and behold, here I am. It was also fun to think about how we were all doing this "together" -- that even being a whole country apart, we were watching conference at the same time! It was great! Oh, and good job on taking care of the missionaries and their investigators/recent converts - that's HUGE, and just warms my little missionary heart and soul :)

This transfer so far is really great. I'm still in Downey, and still with Hermana Tavares. We've decided that this transfer is going to be our "Transfer of Miracles"! We're working hard, praying hard, and expecting miracles! And SEEING miracles! It's awesome to see the miracles, big and small, every single day (kind of like the gratitude thing - the more you find things to be grateful for, the more you find things to be grateful for!). Sometimes a miracle one day can end up being a complete dud later on (i.e. golden investigators who don't progress, or amazing door contacts who are no-shows at their appointments), but for that day, it was truly a miracle that the Lord blessed you with.

It interesting (well, perhaps maddening would be a better word choice there) too, to see how hard Satan works to bring people down the closer they come to the truth, and how frustrated, confused and sad he tries to get them when they're just on the verge of incredible joy. And believe you me, he does all he can to get missionaries discouraged at seeing that.

AAAAGH!!! I can't tell you how frustrating and sad it is sometimes!!! You know what though, it's hard. I DO understand that. And we can't always see the reasons for everything. It's possible though. Oh SO possible because He'll be with you every step of the way, if you'll let Him! It's one of those places where I take great comfort in the words of Nephi: "I know that [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things."

I hope that makes sense...sometimes with my limited time on here I just "think" onto the page (screen), and I don't know if my thoughts are always and coherently connected as I'd like. Hopefully you at least get the idea!

If all goes well, we'll be having a baptism on Sunday!

That's about all I can think of at the moment, and I'm about out of time. I'll try to send a more fun email with lots of "missionary adventures" next week.

I love you all, more than you know!!!
I Love Being a Missionary!!!

Hermana Sallie


Monday, September 28, 2009

email of 28 September 2009

Happy almost-last-day-of-September!

I didn't have anything but a financial notice and a 5-word reply email from Joseph in my inbox today, so hopefully you're on and writing so that I'll have something before we get mail on Friday!

Well, Wednesday marks the beginning of my third transfer in the field! It's so crazy to think that I've been out that long already; it occurred to me the other day that I'm almost at my 5-month mark...which is pretty darn close to 6 months, which is pretty stinking close to a third of my mission already. AAAAAAAH!!! How does it happen?!?!? I'm NOT trying to count down or wish it away or anything, but it does go so fast.

I've been really realizing lately how much of a mini-super-condensed "life" a mission is. It's like an entire lifetime all smooshed down and crammed into 1 1/2 years. And because of that, EVERYTHING is extra concentrated too -- the experiences, the study time, the learning, the growth, the emotions, the joy, the struggles, EVERYTHING. My companion has a quote about how it would take something like 48 years of the regular 3-hour block of Sunday meetings to get in the same amount of spiritual study-time that you get in 2 years of a mission. So if I'm 23 now, then that means I'm coming back an old woman (my deepest apologies if I offended any women who are 71 or somewhere close to that)!!!!!

This week's been good, but kind of hard for me too; I was feeling really lonely (yes, it's possible, even with a companion at your side 24-7), and just struggling a little bit personally. Not to worry, I'm fine now - it was just one of those super-concentrated times of struggle that allows you to learn and grow. And so from that experience, here's something that I learned. As I was (finally) talking to my companion about things, she told me,

"Hermana, you don't have to be perfect in order for someone to love you."

That's really stuck with me. Not that I didn't know it before -- I did -- just never really KNEW it before. I'm discovering that I'm the kind of person that really likes to do everything right -- I like to be liked, to always be happy, to be smiley and bubbly for everyone else, to not look like a moron because I'm doing something that I don't really know how to do (i.e. talk to strangers in Spanish), and when I'm in a situation where I'm made painfully aware of my imperfections, and painfully aware of the fact that there's someone else who's ALWAYS with me and sees all of my imperfections too, well, I have kind of a hard time with that. Because I can see who I want to become, but I'm not there yet. That's just the thing - it's who I'm BECOMING. Thankfully though, the Lord knows that, and He loves me anyways, and has given me a companion who does too, (as do all of you...).

That's not all though. I learned something else along those same lines just yesterday. As I was getting frustrated with my wonderful companion, the thought came to me,

"She doesn't have to be perfect in order for you to love her either."

Well HELLO, McFly!!! THAT just went and completely changed my perspective again, helping to make me a happier, more loving, and less frustrated person as well...

Ok, That's about all of that. Just one more little thing - My first comp, Sis Foutz shared this quote with me that I think about a lot:

"All frustration comes from unmet expectations"

Chew on that one for a while :)

Mom, I totally forgot to mention anything about the RS Broadcast last week--I was praying for you all week though! I hope everything went well, and that it was a great "last hurrah"!!! Wasn't the broadcast wonderful?! All the sisters in the mission got to go up to the mission home on Saturday evening to watch it together, then had a light dinner afterwards; it was so nice!

Did you know that they're coming out with a "Where the Wild Things Are" movie?!?!?! I don't know if our billboards, etc come out sooner/earlier here, but I've just started seeing them pop up for "Where the Wild Things Are," due out I think in a couple of months. I couldn't believe it! First of all, I was really excited, because, well, hello - "Where the Wild Things Are"! Secondly though, I'm wondering how on earth they've managed to make that into a full length only takes about 5 minutes to read on "Reading Rainbow"...

Speaking of "Where the Wild Things Are," I've been thinking a bit lately about our little Max. I think being a missionary does that to us, because I remember Joseph and Sam both talking about him's just cool to be about the same work as your little brother (who, granted, I don't really know too well just yet) who's on the other side of the veil. His birthday's coming up too, isn't it Mom? Sometime in November, I know.

Ok, that's it - less than a minute left.

I Love You!!!
I Love Being A Missionary!!!!!!!

Hermana Sallie


ps - does anyone know what a fuller is (or could you look it up for me)? I'm wondering because of the scriptures that refer to the "refiner's fire and fuller's soap," and I've just been curious to know what exactly a fuller is...

pps - I don't think that we'll have temple p-day next week (new church policy about missionaries only going 4 times a year instead of 8), so I'll probably be writing on Monday again

Monday, September 21, 2009

email of 21 Septembr 2009

Do you know anything about Grape Street?

. . . Because apparently it's kinda famous or something . . . something to do with the Watts Riots? I honestly don't really know much about it at all, but I did get to see it this week! I was on splits, and we were going to our dinner appointment (which was in Watts). We got a little turned around on our way, and finally I just stopped the car to look at the map and asked, "ok, where are we?" My companion looked up and said, "uh, this would be the projects of Watts. This is where the Watts riots took place; oh, and there's Grape Street!" Awesome! So I can now say that I have been to both Compton and Watts, California, and it was pretty much awesome. I'm pretty sure that they are two of the most ghetto and probably pretty dangerous places in the U.S., but don't quote me on it. You could google it though, and let me know for sure :)

And here's some crazy city statistics for you, especially you relatively small-town folks: Compton, Ca. has a population of approximately 98,000 people (give or take... I'm pretty sure that fluctuates daily w/ all the gangs and such), all crammed into a total area of 10.6 square miles. Yep, you read right - 98,000 people, 10.6 square miles. There are a LOT of people here.

Remember that garage-house we cleaned up a few weeks ago? Well, I got to go over there when we were on splits (the same day as Compton/Watts) to teach Hector, the son. He is amazing!!! I could really see such a difference in him from the first and even second time I saw him! He really truly has a light in his eyes, and you can just tell how much happier he is. AND, as of yesterday, he has a baptismal date!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!! And here's something funny that happened while we were teaching: Keeping in mind that Hector's lead a fairly rough life, he also has a fairly foul mouth (as do many of the people that we teach). We were teaching him the 10 commandments with a fun little hand game we play to help people remember. When we talked about commandment #3 (Don't take the Lord's name in vain), we also talked a little bit about all of our language. For the rest of the lesson, he was correcting himself whenever he slipped up and swore. It was so great! And at the end, as we were going through reviewing everything, it was really funny to hear his "translation" of the 10 C's. ex: We got to #6 (thou shalt not kill), which we do by holding up 4 fingers on one hand, with the thumb and forefinger of the other pointing at the four like a gun. So we held up our hands like that and asked, "What's number 6?" Hector's reply: "Don't be blastin' nobody!" The sisters who are teaching him just about completely flipped out on him a few weeks ago when they asked if he had a bible, and he said, "yeah, I think I've got one around here somewhere." and pulled out a QUAD that he had stolen a few years back!!! So Michael R. Hadley, wherever you are, I'm sorry that your scriptures were stolen, but they are in good hands, and have helped to save a soul. Thanks for all the notes you took in seminary!

Ok, ok, so back to my area and the rest of my week.

Minus the part where only ONE of our 4 investigators with baptismal dates came to church yesterday, it was a pretty good week. To kind of balance out that disappointment, we found out that one of the Priests in our ward has been bringing a friend to church with him for the last couple of weeks...not sure how we missed that one! He's awesome though -- he's 15, and Jewish, but really loves the church. Yesterday when he introduced himself in Gospel Principles he said, "I'm Jared, and I'm 15, and I'm not a member of your church, but I really, really want to be." YAY! Miracles do happen! I'm discovering that sometimes you just have those days that are pretty discouraging, but the Lord has this way of giving you just enough at little moments throughout the day to keep you going. I'm so grateful for that.

Mom, good job in sharing the gospel! Don't worry either, I'm a missionary and sometimes am really terrible at missionary work! You could always ask the missionaries to help you by maybe teaching you a little more, or role-playing situations with you so that you can practice, or even go out teaching with them sometimes, OR--even better--see if they have any investigators that they could teach in you home!!! Trust me, if you'll ask/offer the missionaries any of those things, you'll have some really happy missionaries on your hands! AND you'll really have a chance to learn how to be a better missionary, and probably even be instrumental in helping people come unto Christ and be baptized and joining the church! How awesome is that?!?! (pretty awesome, trust me :) Also, studying PMG, especially ch 3 (the lessons), would probably help :)

Tomorrow is Zone Conference!!! I'm really excited, especially since we have a general authority (Elder Glenn L. Pace) coming! Zone Conference is great, and I'm really looking forward to it--it's a good "recharge" for the transfer.

AND GENERAL CONFERENCE IS COMING!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!! I LOVE conference, and am so looking forward to hearing directly from the men we bear testimony of every day: our living prophet and apostles!

Alrighty, well, time's about up. The church is True, God lives--He knows us and loves us and wants us!!!

I Love Being a Missionary!!!
I Love YOU!!! (y'all)

Hermana Sallie


Monday, September 14, 2009

email of 14 September 2009

I don't remember exactly when or where he gave the talk, but sometime not too long before my mission, Elder Oaks gave a talk in which he said to the women something along the lines of: "You are daughters of Zion, not street walkers in Babylon!" I've thought about that phrase a lot since being out here, and it has occurred to me that as a missionary serving in the California Los Angeles Mission, I am indeed a street walker in Babylon! Not to worry though, I am most definitely a daughter of Zion as well...just a daughter of Zion walking the streets of Babylon everyday. :)

It's been a good week...but then, pretty much every week is good :) They all have their ups and downs, for sure, but the ups far outweigh the downs. We've had to drop some of our investigators in the last few days, which just kills me because I want so badly for them to progress! I just so want them to understand what this gospel means, and how it can bless and change their lives, but unless they care enough to actually do something about it, it won't. And we're here to find those who are ready and willing, so even though it breaks our hearts, a missionary's gotta do what a missionary's gotta do...which sometimes means NOT continuing to work with people you love. BUT THEN the Lord goes and gives you people who ARE ready, and who WILL change their lives because they DO get it, and that is one of the best things about a mission!

Por ejemplo: We're teaching a lady right now who we (well, my comp and the other sister she was on splits with that day) found in the park one day, and she's amazing! She was so excited to find out about living prophets and that Jesus Christ came to the Americas - her response when we told her about them was "I knew it! I always KNEW that Christ came here, and now I have the proof of it!" She's so excited about getting the gospel and getting baptized. She smokes, and also drinks coffee (only about 1 cup/day though), but when we taught her about the WoW this week, she said "Ok, well if it's a commandment, then I'll keep it." Just like that. She said she won't drink anymore coffee, and we're working with her right now to get her off of cigarettes - she's down to 7 a day starting tomorrow!

There's another girl that we're teaching that I am really amazed by. She's had such a difficult life -- her mom left when she was a young child, and her living situation now (with her father and step-mom) is really not very good. Her family isn't very loving or supportive at all. Se struggles with same-sex attraction (no, it's not a problem with us teaching her or anything - don't worry), as well as a form of psychosis. In the words of a BYU education week speaker (he spoke about "the functional family," I believe) who was quoted at our stake conference this weekend, the only thing that's really every been written on her "personal blackboard" is "You are a mistake." It's really sad, but incredible at the same time. We've been amazed at her strength and desire to follow the Lord. As we taught her the law of chastity yesterday, she told us that even though it's so hard for her, she's willing to give up the person that she's loved for most of her life because she loves the Lord more and wants to do what He wants her to do. There's really a difference in her - more peace and happiness and light - since we've been teaching her. She still has problems, but she's so much happier and at peace. I can really feel the Lord's love for her as we teach.

We're teaching about following the prophet tonight at the ward FHE - should be fun!

I know there's lots more I could probably tell you, but sometimes I just don't even know where to start. I'm really growing to love California, and it's finally becoming beautiful to me. It really wasn't when I first got here, but there is beauty all around when you're a missionary!

I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!!! The days are long, and hot (though they're getting cooler :) and hard, but SO good, and so rewarding! Everyday is the same, yet different, and I learn more about letting go of me everyday. And it just makes me so happy, even when it's hard and sad and heart-breaking. The Lord gives us joy.

So that's me this week -- I'm happy and healthy, and am getting a killer farmer's tan (my arms, my neck, my watch/ring lines, even my feet are getting it :) - I actually DO change color--who knew?! The church is true, and I love it!!!

I Love and miss all of you, but I do love being a missionary, in the short little sojourn that I get here in California!

Hermana Sallie :D

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

email of 08 September 2009

Happy Day After Labor Day!!!

(italics are questions from Mom . . .)

"So, how in the world are you?!"
"Do you need anything?"
Not especially
"Money is OK?"
Yep, it's fine. You'll see my personal expenses on my BoA account occasionally;
those are just for things that I'm not supposed to use my mission card (the blue
card) for, i.e. clothes, personal items, souveniers, etc. I try not to use it
very often, but when you see expenses, that's usually what it is.
"Eating enough?"
Plenty :)
"Great to hear from you each week and get all the news! "
Awesome! Her we go:

The libraries were all closed yesterday (obviously), so we get to email today :)

I'm on splits again today, this time here in my area with a great sister named Sister Youmans. My normal companion (Sis. Tavares - pronounced "tah-vah-rehs") has one of the two sister leadership positions here in the mission - Sister Trainer. That means that during each transfer, she goes on splits with half of the sisters in the mission. She either goes to their area or they come here, so she works with them for the day, taking time at the end of the day for review, to talk about what things went well, what could use improvement, setting goals, etc. She's also available as a listening ear, and for extra love and support for each of her assigned sisters. SO, since I'm her companion, I also go on splits (about twice a week), sometimes to other areas, sometimes here; today I'm here. That also means that today I'm the acting senior companion in our area, so I was/am in charge of planning, and taking the lead in the things we do today. It's good practice and preparation, and I learn a lot. It's also really fun to be able to work with so many different sisters and to see their different areas. It's amazing how drastically different our mission is from place to place, especially with it being such a geographically small mission. For example, in our mission we have Compton, and we have Beverly Hills. West Hollywood, and Inglewood. Etc, etc, etc.

Totally different places, totally different people, all within less than 40 miles of each other. It's amazing, and I love it!

This week has been good - a little up and down, but overall very good.

Tuesday I was on splits in Redondo Beach. It is a beautiful area! It's also quite wealthy, and the people aren't terribly receptive. Most of the people we talked to were very nice, they just weren't interested. It finaly hit me at one point toward the end of the day when a lady very sweetly told us that she and her family had a great church that they attend every Sunday, it's a great church family, they're very happy there, so they weren't really interested. As we walked away, it really sank in: All day long we'd been talking to very nice, genuinely kind people who all said the same thing: They had a church; they were very happy where they were in life; thanks for what we're doing, but they're really not interested, etc. And I just thought, How do we help these people understand what a big deal this gospel is?!?! How do we show then just how important it is?! How do we help them see that this is way, WAY more than just us trying to get more people come to our church?! How, HOW do we really help them to feel and understand how much better, happier and fuller their lives would be with the FULLNESS of the Lord's gospel, a LIVING PROPHET, the added LIGHT and KNOWLEDGE that we have because of a 14 year old boy who prayed in faith and through whom the heaven's were opened and God spoke again!!!!! This is SALVATION and EXALTATION, people!!!!!!!!!!!!!Like, for real! And for goodness' sakes, they're just fine and happy where they are. UUUGH! But they are. That's just the thing; these people are really, genuinely fine and happy, and find great joy in their lives, it's just that we offer so much MORE, but don't always know how to really tell them that.

Do you see what being a missionary will do to a person? When this gospel is all you do, all day everyday, you really start to see and feel this way. It's just that you don't always know what to do about it, short of grabbing people on their doorsteps and yelling "DO YOU REALIZE WHAT A BIG DEAL THIS IS?!?!?!?! TRUST ME, YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO US!!!!!" But we don't. We just smile, try to say something that will touch them in some way as to open their hearts, offer to help, and continue on our way. Sometimes they get it, sometimes they don't. Thankfully, the people here in Downey tend to be at least a little more receptive, but still.

We currently have 3 people with baptismal dates, two who ALMOST have baptismal dates, and two who HAD baptismal dates, but are looking a little less promising than they did in the beginning. We're so excited for Elizabeth, Linda, and Teresa, so hopeful for Dutch and Christine, and a little frustrated, but still hopeful for Miguel and Ernesto. And that's just kind of how it goes. Missionary work is SO wonderful, and yet often so discouraging, but there's a price to be paid, and experience to be had, and work to do! It's so interesting too to get a peek into so many different lives and homes and hearts. The world is a sad, hard place, and the gospel really offers so much hope and joy and peace. Something I'm really learning though: we're here for the elect; those that are ready. And when we find them, it's amazing. And when we search and search and search and don't find them, it's sometimes a little discouraging, but then we search some more until we do find them.

Ok, ok, I'm done.

I love missionary life, and this week has been good; this next week will be as well :)

Oh, and my Spanish is getting better! I made my first Spanish referral phone calls this last week, and for the most part was able to really understand and communicate!!!

I'm glad things at home are going well, and hope they continue that way! David, congratulations on school and all the pharmacy work stuff - that's so exciting!

I sure do love hearing from everyone :)

A quick message to please post on my blog:

I got a card and letter this week from Brother Bob Resch! I saw it and though, "Bob Resch?! What in the world?" I knew who he was because Mom has mentioned him before, but I didn't know that he knew who I was, or that I was on a mission or anything! Turns out he does :) Apparently he follows my letters on the blog, and saw that a few weeks ago I had requested conversion stories, and he'd felt prompted to share his with me! It was so wonderful and inspiring to hear his experience with the sister missionaries who were able to be instruments in the Lord's hands in helping him to come back into the church, and of the true conversion that happened in his life. It was wonderful, and gave me so much hope and joy to read that! It really made my night. So Brother Resch, over in Afghanistan, thank you so much, and may the Lord continue to bless you and your family!

Alrighty, well, that's about it for this week. Your missionary is healthy, and happy, and loving her life out here. I'm grateful every single day that I'm here. The church is true!!!


Hermana Sallie Wilson

Monday, August 31, 2009

email of 31 August 2009


Mail again, mail again, jiggity jig :)

Mom, I skimmed over your letter, and just had to smile that Durk has called you a couple times. He would ;) If you talk to him again soon, tell him I'm glad to hear that he's doing so well, and that there should be a letter coming his way sometime later this week. Hopefully he's still in Beryl and gets it before he leaves!

Ok, so on to your questions!
1) Are you being affected by the wild fires? (It's all over Fox News)
Not really, except for the terrible heat. It's hit over 100 degrees everyday since at least Thursday; apparently the fires affect that. Besides that though, no. Life and missionary work continues right along just as always! Actually, the only reason we even know about the fires is because a member mentioned it, and because of the huge smoke clouds. Things like this make it a little weird to be so "disconnected." I know what's going on, and yet I really have no idea...any other light you'd like to shed on the fire situation? And I guess that there's a hurricane or something headed our way too? I didn't know they get hurricanes here.

2) Do you see the smoke?
Oh yeah. We actually took some pictures today, so the next time I send my picture card home (there's one on the way right should be at least halfway to SC by now), you can see what we see here. There's a giant mushroom cloud in the sky, with a rising gray haze all across our horizon. It's weird, but kinda cool to see. I guess maybe it should be a little scary too, but it's not.

3) Have you received your driving record from Dad yet?
Yep! It came last week, so I'm all clear, which is good, because I've been driving since the beginning of the transfer (my companion lost her license a while back, so she's not a driver anymore)!

4) Have you been back to that house you cleaned last week?
Actually, yes. And while it's still not the cleanest place you'll ever be, the sisters that work in that area say that it's cleaner every time they go over!

5) Is the woman doing any better? Is she going to join the church?
Andrea is doing much better, but here's something funny: she's not really interested in the church, but her son (who was pretty bad news in the beginning - using the money to buy drugs, etc) is! In fact he's probably getting baptized soon! We just talked to those sisters today, and they said he's at the point where he knows it's true, and he knows that he needs to get baptized, he just hasn't set a date yet. It's really funny to see the way that things play out on a mission, and how lives can really change.

6) Dad wants to know the name of your apartments. He has google mapped you, but
wants to be sure.
I'm not sure the name, but I think the address is 8105. It probably looks kinda like an "H" from above, with a swimming pool and garden area opposite the street.

Let's see, what to share about my life in the last almost week...

Well, for starters, Freddy (who was baptized two sundays ago)got confirmed yesterday! That was really good.

We're teaching an awesome 10 year old right now named Miguel. His mom and older sister are less-actives, and he's not a member yet. The first time we went over there though, his mom (who isn't really interested in coming back to church) mentioned that he wants to go to church. He came running over to the door and said "Yeah! Can you guys help me go to church? I haven't ever been baptized either, but I really want to! Can I?" Why yes, yes you can :) So we're teaching him right now, and it's so fun! When he found out that their ride to church would be there at 930 on Sunday morning, he said, "Oh sweet! I'm getting up at 7 so I can be ready!" Then he started making assignments to his mom and sister, telling them to get up at "6, no 5!!!" so that they'd all have time to get ready and go. It was awesome! Yesterday was his first Sunday, and I think he really enjoyed it. He and his sister came with some of the members, and he was happier than a kid in a candy store... because he was a kid in church! I've never seen a 10 year old so excited about church! He's getting baptized on Sept. 20th

We're teaching another lady right now - Linda - who also has a baptismal date for 20 Sept., and she's great. She has a lot of home and family problems, but she's doing pretty well. We're really working on faith with her. She really wants to follow the Lord and do the right thing, but life is so hard, and she's just so afraid of doing the wrong thing. I relate well to that... So we've talked to her about not just having, but exercising faith (it is SUCH a principle of action), and promised that the Lord will answer her as she moves forward with her decision. We also promised that we wouldn't let her get baptized if she wasn't ready, but she will be. :)

I'm reading an amazing talk right now called "The Fourth Missionary." It was given in 2003 (ish?) by a mission president to his missionaries, and is a real missionary life-changer. I'm only about part way through it, but it's really incredible. He talks about the 4 kinds of missionaries, and how to be the 4th - the best. This missionary is not only obedient and successful, but much deeper, and is personally blessed and changed by their mission. I really want to make copies and send it to everyone I know because it's really so much more than just about missionaries - it really applies to life and how to allow the Savior to bless and change you. I'm studying it 1) because it's an awesome talk, and I want to, but also 2) in preparation for my "40-day fast", and I'm really excited about it. And no Dad, this is not a missionary weight-loss program :) It's an idea I got from my companion, and we're doing it together. This is a fast from the things that are keeping me from being the best missionary I can be. It begins with a fast, and ends with a fast, and in between (those 40 days), you "fast" from things that are maybe standing between you being good and being great. I'm finding that there are so many blessings that come from stretching just a little further, trying just a littler harder, and exercising your faith in making sacrifices for the Lord, especially when uniting as a companionship (or spouses, I'm sure) and doing those things together. So I'm really trying to prayerfully take an extra close look at myself this week and see what things - little or big - I need to change in order to be a more profitable servant, sharper tool, more in-tune instrument for the Lord. That's my ultimate goal out here, you know - to be an instrument in the Lord's hands. My inspiration for that came in the MTC, from Mosiah 23:10, and Alma 17:9. Sometimes when I'm struggling, as we all do - even the very best of missionaries - that helps to keep me focused and remember why I'm here. Like that picture on Grandma's wall (remember Sam? The one you thought was a scripture and almost quoted in your mission acceptance letter? :) says, it's not easy, but totally worth it.

Well, that's about it for this week, my wonderful family! I sure do love you!!! I hope everything back home is going well, and that you see the tender mercies from the Lord everyday!!!!

I love you!!!

I Love Being A Missionary!!!

Hermana Sallie Wilson


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

email of 26 August 2009

Hello again, my wonderful family! I hope y'all weren't too worried or sad to not hear from me on Monday this week! We found out on Friday that this week would be temple p-day, which means that p-day gets moved to Wednesday instead of Monday. I was a little worried that y'all might be worried, but I could just hear Mom's voice in my head, "Well, no news is good news..." :)

The temple was wonderful today. We actually just missed the session (traffic on the 405 is horrendous), so I did initiatories instead. And actually, it was really wonderful! I love doing initiatories because I love to hear/remember the blessings there. I also tend to have a really hard time staying awake in an endowment session too, so initiatories are good :) It was fun to actually be able to pronounce the Spanish names too.

It's been a good week! The weeks really tend to just fly by out here on the mission, but at the same time, they seem very long as well. For example, we had an experience (which I'll share a little further down) a week ago yesterday, but it seems like it was FOR-E-VER ago now. Weird.

So I'm on my second companion now. Her name is Sister Tavares, and she's from Salta, Argentina (nope David, not my MTC comp - thank goodness! companionships definitely need more experience than 2 brand new missionaries!)! It's really great having a native Spanish-speaker for a companion, and my Spanish is already improving incredibly, just in the last week! Sis. Tavares is a great missionary - really hard-working, really obedient, and a great teacher. It's still hard sometimes -- getting used to another companion, doing things new/differently, etc, but it's good, and I'm learning a lot. AND I'm enjoying tracting. I've pretty much just decided that the first couple of days or weeks are just HARD, and that a lot also depends on your companion...which really makes me want to be a better companion, so that I'm ready and can really be a help and blessing when my turn for sr. comp/training comes around. And it will, this much I know. Our mission is growing a lot, especially now that the visitor's center will be opening up (it's been closed for renovations/remodeling for the last 2 or so years), so we'll be getting a lot of new sisters in the next few transfers, which means that most of us who are here now will be training soon. ...which scares me to death, but I'm doing my best to learn all I can and be the best missionary I can be so that I'll be ready.

Ok, some experiences and picture-worthy missionary moments from this week!
First of all, did you know that I'm really close to Compton here? It's actually in the neighboring area, so I'll probably get to work there a little bit when I go on splits there. I'm excited :) And don't worry Mom, we're very careful, and there is a very real protection that comes with being "one of them Jesus people". God watches over His missionaries for sure.

I discover more and more every day how much I love being a missionary, and all the cool experiences that you have that would never ever happen otherwise. Por ejemplo: (for example) Last Tuesday I was in South Gate (the neighboring sister's area that includes Compton) for the day because it was the day before transfers and my companion was at the mission home for the day before she went home. While there, we went to see and help one of the investigators that the sisters were teaching. It's amazing to be in a place where you can go from 1st to 3rd world conditions in a matter of moments, often within the same neighborhood. This woman was in her late 40's, and because of diabetes and really poor living conditions, she is blind, losing her hearing, and her legs are almost black from the calf down. She had sores all over her legs, and really just was not doing well at all. The saddest part though was her home. She lives in a converted garage apartment that was the filthiest place I've ever been. I really can't even describe to you what that place was like. But imagine the dirtiest - not messy, but dirty - home you've ever been in, and multiply that by a lot. Garbage, flies, rat droppings, stench, filth. Everywhere. It was really sad. So we went and cleaned. We have a recent convert who's an ex-gangster and a nurse, and he came and helped bandage her up (I think he also scared her son into taking better care of her). The house was notably cleaner when we finished, (though not what you would really call "clean"), we put some pictures of Jesus up around the house, and she had clean, well-bandaged legs. She was so happy that she went from sitting, waiting to die to dancing! It was quite the experience. Really, it's like a whole other world here.

We went and made breakfast for some investigators on Sunday morning to help them get to church, and they came!

Did you know that there are professional garbage-diggers here? There are. We see them at least once a week or so in our apartment dumpsters. Apparently there's big money to be made in recycling here, and people go to great lengths to find bottles.

I'm really coming to better understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way to true happiness in this life. Every single day we see people who have everything, as well as people who have nothing, and without the gospel, they aren't happy. They really aren't. They may think they are, but being on this end, I can really see the void that people try to fill with money, medication, drugs, stuff, whatever it may be; if it isn't the Lord and His gospel, it always, always, always leaves them empty in the end. I can say that because I know myself and have seen it in the lives of others around me. True happiness, joy, and lasting peace in this life only and always comes from living the Gospel - keeping the commandments; inviting the Lord into your life and then letting Him build a mansion out of our little "shack" of a soul. The church is true, and I can't believe what an awesome opportunity I have to not only be a part of it, but share it as well. I'm so glad that I came.

Well, I've got to go - time's almost up!

I love you all, thank you so much for everything!

I Love being a missionary!!!

Hermana Sallie Wilson