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