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

Monday, August 17, 2009

email of 17 August 2009

My dearest family,

Hello!!! Here I am, another week in. I've made it almost a whole transfer (Wednesday is the mark) now! I'm realizing how much I've changed, even in just the last 6 weeks; last week we were talking about it in companionship inventory, and my companion mentioned how much she's seen me change and grow. As I thought about it, I realized how true it is. I'm still very much me, but I HAVE already grown a lot. I'm not as scared anymore, and I'm really learning to focus outward and "lose myself." I know, I know, I've talked a lot about that ever since coming out, but I feel like I'm finally getting it...but still have a long ways to go. It's all a process, but a really good one. :)

Mom, to answer your questions (including those from last week - sorry I totally missed them),

(Valerie's Questions: "How in the world are you? What are you up to for P-day? Do you have enough money for food? Are you eating well? Any more/other weird food?")

I'm doing great! P-day always entails exercise and study as usual, laundry, some sort of zone activity (today was a birthday party for one of the hermanas), email, grocery (and other) shopping, washing the car, cleaning the house, and, if we have time, writing letters.

I have plenty of money for food, and am eating very well. It's nice to have a little more control over that again! As for that little money blip my first month, I just didn't realize that they didn't put the full amount on my account because I wasn't there the full month (I came in on the 8th). So I just had everything calculated wrong. So sorry about that, but everything's under control now. No other really weird food as of's all been pretty normal.

I've learned something though: (you probably shouldn't include this in the mass email/posting) . . . missionaries LIE. No, really, they do! At dinner appointments, even if they hate the food, most missionaries will tell a boldfaced lie, and say that it's great. But if the food IS great, we'll usually tell you that too. Now you know. I try not to completely lie...I'm always grateful that members open their homes to us, and I make sure to tell them that; and if I don't like the food, I'll usually just leave it at "thank you." Most of the food we eat really IS good though.

(Valerie's Questions: "How is the missionary today? How was your Sunday? What's new?? Are you receiving many letters? Who from? Do you still hear from Durk?")

Today I'm doing great! Yesterday was really good too! Actually, bitter sweet (as I'm learning that missionary life often is). Freddy's baptism was the really sweet part. Everythign went really smoothly and great. It was cool to see some of the "fruits" of our labors as he was baptized. No one from his family came, but the Fonseca family (his member girlfriend's family) were all there, as well as other ward members, and we were so grateful for the support, as was Freddy.

The more "bitter" part was expecting 11 investigators at sacrament meeting, and being almost completely sure that all of them would be there, but then only having 1 show. It was a little discouraging, to say the least. The 1 who did come was Freddy, and if he hadn't come, well, that would have made for a REALLY crummy Sunday.

What's new? Well, transfers are this week, so I'm killing my companion tomorrow. In cheesy mission lingo, that means that she's going home. That means that I get a new companion, which will be exciting. It's really weird and kind of sad to see Sister Foutz leave, but she's served well, and I'm grateful to have had her as a companion.

I actually got quite a few letters this week, which was so fun, and mostly unexpected! I've heard from Ginger Leaf twice, which was so fun! I'm thrilled for her to be a ward missionary! I never realized how important that calling is until now! I also hear from Melanie, Grandma Wilson, random roommates and other friends, and yes, Durk. I also heard from one of my dear BYU-Idaho friends, Mike Smyth. Will you please make sure that he gets this message (you can facebook him)? "THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!! I loved getting your little package (a Spanish book and a letter), and your letter was one of the most missionary-motivating letters I've gotten. It was so great to hear from you!"

Will you also see if someone will write and tell me where Megan and Josh Dustin are going on their missions?! Thanks!

I really am sending my camera card this week! I know I told you a few weeks ago, but time just always runs out.

I'm glad life and everything is going so well at home! Just keep chugging through the hard stuff - there's a lesson and lots of blessings in all of it!

Mom, I'm SO glad, grateful, and excited for your decision to be more missionary-focused! Something I've realized since being out here is how hard it can be to be a new member. It can be difficult to investigate, and join the church, and often people (especially new members) are lonely, and really need the ward members to love and take care of them! Also, just make your home and life as open to the missionaries and missionary work as possible! You personally (and the whole fam) will receive so many blessing by doing this, the work will progress so much better, and the missionaries will really love and be grateful for you! So even if just for me, your missionary daughter in L.A., do all you can to support this work. It really is the greatest work to do, AND it's all true!!!
Well, 1 minute left. I love and miss you all, but I'm doing well, and loving life here. The church is true, the Lord is real, and He loves ALL of His children.

I love you, and I love being a missionary!!!

Hurrah for Israel!!!!!

Hermana Sallie :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

email of 10 August, 2009

Guess what today is?

Day 99, that's what.

Day 99 of being a missionary. That means that tomorrow I will have been a missionary for 100 DAYS. Talk about crazy. I could have won "Survivor" twice now. We'll call this "Survivor L.A. - The Mission" :)


Thank you, thank you, thank you for the package!!!! I was surprised and laughed pretty hard about the corn nuts...definitely not expecting them!!! Thanks Dad! And thanks for the journals too!

Ok, so with the 18 minutes that I have left, here's a quick little bite of mission life this week:

Freddy postponed his baptism to next week because of needing/wanting to tell his mom, and to give her time to adjust to the idea. He is still getting baptized though!

You know how English-speakers tend to make fun of Spanish by adding "-o" to the end of a word (cake-o pound-o, anyone? ;) ?? Well, a memeber from the spanish branch was telling us that they do the same thing with English, only they add "-ation". For example: "Por favoration pasation la aguation" It's pretty funny.

Mom, you would die as a missionary here; everyone has dogs. And a lot of them are pretty huge mean ones too. There's a GIANT German shepherd named "Rambo" that lives down the street from one of our investigators. Trust me, it's a very appropriate name, and he's a very good guard dog. There have been a couple of times when I was a little scared of a dog, like when there was a dog who was trying to eat through his fence to get at us, or one who was running at us like mad (but chained up) and barking pretty ferociously, or like just yesterday, when someone's German shepherd had gotten out, and was just taking a nice little stroll down the same street we were...I'm really grateful that Heavenly Father protects His missionaries!!!

Also, you asked about the L.A. Temple. It's beautiful, and also HUGE. The endowment rooms seat about 300, but they are some of the most beautiful rooms I've ever seen. And no, it's not quite as "old" looking as the IF temple (LA was built in the 50's).
I've been thinking a lot this week about giving my heart to the Lord. Im reading the NT right now, and came across Matt 6:21 this week, which hit me differently than it has before. I just realized that up until this point, I've had a hard time putting my WHOLE heart into the work here because it hasn't been my real "treasure." So I thought about that and decided to really give all of my non/pre-mission hopes and dreams to the Lord for the next while of my life, and let Him keep them safe in a jar on a little shelf somewhere, and have asked Him to help this - the mission and all that that entails - to be my treasure. It's really helped me a lot.
Also, I've been thinking a lot about "Harvesting" lately, and how that applies to what I'm doing right now.

I'd elaborate more, but I have no time. Just know that I love being here, and am doing well!

I love being a missionary!
I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!

Hermana Sallie :)

ps I was wondering if some of the people who read my letters and were converts wouldn't mind writing and sending me their conversion stories. I'd love to read them, and also think that they could be a great tool in my teaching people here!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

email of 3 August 2009

What a week!

Brace yourselves people, what I'm about to say may blow your minds...

I had an experience this week where I actually loved tracting.

I know, I know, who knew it would be possible, especially this soon in the mission. The Lord works wonders and miracles, if we'll let Him.

Tracting still isn't my favorite of all things to do, but I did have a really good experience with it this week. We had splits this week, and Sis Foutz (my trainer) made me promise that I'd go tracting with my splits companion. When I very grudgingly agreed and asked why, she simply said, "because miracles happen tracting when you're on splits." Was she right? Of course she was. She's got almost 15 months on me. My splits companion, Sister Earl, LOVES tracting. I did NOT understand how this was possible the first time she told me that (a few weeks ago), and I thought she was crazy, but having gone tracting with her, I understand. She is super full of energy, and absolutely LOVES being a missionary, and she just can't hold it in. She's also very talkative and relates well to people, which definitely helps. Overall, it was just really good to get out and do the work with someone else. Not that I don't love my companion, because I do, but a little change up and different perspective in the area really helps sometimes. We met some really great people tracting, and got lots of potential investigators. We (well, Sis. Earl actually - it was in Spanish, and I'm not quite that good yet; I still spend a lot of my time just trying to figure out what people are saying.) actually even committed one lady to baptism right on her doorstep! She's a really sweet Spanish sister from Guatemala, she's married and has a beautiful little 7 month old baby girl.

Have I mentioned yet how beautiful I think Hispanic children are? Cause I do. A lot.

Anyways, back to Sandy. She's very Christian, but she seemed to really understand when we talked to her about Priesthood authority and how important that is. So we've started teaching her, and will hopefully be able to catch her husband soon too (he works a lot). They seem like a great family, and I'm excited for them!

We also tracted into her next door neighbor, an interesting man named Kim. He came to the door in just a pair of swim trunks and some sort of cloth/leather necklace thing, but was very open and willing to talk to us. He even went inside and turned off his TV so that he could hear us better. THAT'S pretty amazing, especially considering that we hadn't said anything about it. Anyways, he understood everything really well - he's very smart and has studied a lot. He had some interesting ideas, one of which was that Martin Luther King was the latest prophet that he knew of. He at least had somewhat good reasoning behind that idea that we were able to work with in introducing the restoration and Joseph Smith (that MLKJ had a dream, and well, prophets have dreams, so "obviously" he was a prophet.) We talked to him for a good 20-30 minutes there on his doorstep, then left him a Restoration pamphlet, and asked him to read and pray about it. He told us we were welcome back anytime, but that he doesn't answer the door if he's eating or reading. Other than that, he's more than happy to talk to us. So yesterday we stopped by to see Sandy, then decided that Sis Foutz hadn't met him yet, we'd go over and see if Kim was home. He was (and yes, shirtless once again...), and came out and talked to us for another good while. He'd actually read the pamphlet (well, skimmed through it at least), and passed it on to a friend. So we had another really good conversation with him, taught him about the Book of Mormon, left him with a Book of Mormon and a Bible, and set up a return appointment. We told him that the most important thing to do when he reads the Book of Mormon is to pray and ask God if it's true. When we said that, he asked, "before or after I read?" When we told him to do it before AND after, he just nodded like, "oh, yeah, that's good idea." I told him that it's always good to "sandwich" your scripture study between prayers (thank you, Ian McArthur). His response? A grin and chuckle as he said, "I like sandwiches." It was pretty funny.

The thing about Kim is that you wouldn't expect to feel the Spirit around him. He's a 30-40 something construction pipe fitter who's out of a job, he never wears a shirt, and he just is an interesting individual. I'm not sure how else to really describe him well at the moment - he's one that you sort of just have to meet. So while on the outside/at first meeting you wouldn't expect much, and certainly not to feel the Spirit, you do. He just has this light in his eyes, and you can tell that he is of the blood of Israel. As we left, my companion turned to me and said, "why do I feel the Spirit around that man?" I've never met someone quite like him. And he's very smart. He thinks very intellectually, and says that the things we talk about really make sense to him. I'm excited to teach him more!

One of my points in telling you all this is that Sandy and Kim's apartment building is one that we knocked because as we walked by, I thought, "we should knock that building." And at first I kept walking, but then I told Sister Earl, "Hey, why don't we knock that building?" So we did. And it was amazing!

A few fun little "randoms" : I ate calamari (squid) this week. It wasn't very good. It wasn't terrible, but it sure as heck wasn't good. It tastes really fishy, and is really rubbery in texture. I don't recommend it. Second, I've decided that I'd like to be fluent in Spanish AND Ghetto before I leave my mission. We went to see a former investigator who lives with her cholo (Mexican gangster) boyfriend. Just picture a big, bald-headed (it’s a Mexican gangster thing), very tattooed Mexican guy answering the door with a marijuana joint tucked behind his ear. Fairly normal, I guess. Whatevah. It was just a really funny experience. Remind me to tell you about it someday.

We have a baptism this Sunday! Freddy (I think I told you a little about him last week) is getting baptized, and I'm SO EXCITED!!!!! We had an awesome lesson with him yesterday. I haven't been totally sure what to think of him up to this point, and was a little worried that he was getting baptized just because of his girlfriend, but as we talked to him yesterday about the baptismal interview questions, he really opened up to us. He knows the church is true, and he wants to be baptized, but he's really worried about/scared that he'll hurt/disappoint his mom. He's really a very tender soul; we just didn't realize it. More on him next week.

I love being a missionary!!!

I Love All of Y'all!!!!!!

Hermana Sallie