Hey y'all!! Well here I am....back in good ol' Bentonville, AR! It has been one of the craziest weeks of my life! I can't believe that I am home now. It has been so surreal to be home and back doing normal missionary things!
Last Monday I had the opportunity to head back to my greenie area, Cheyenne, WY! It was so much fun to go back up there! I was giddy the whole time and I just felt so happy to be back there. First we stopped by and surprised Rod and Virginia! They were so surprised to see me and couldn't believe that I was getting ready to go home. We chatted for a while and then we headed to go eat lunch with one of my favorite ladies, Randi Carpenter! We had a great time together!! After that I was able to see the family I lived with at the very beginning of my mission. That was so tender because they were with me at the very beginning when I was really struggling! It was so fun to see them at the end! Then we had to head back down to Windsor so I could finish packing and then get to the mission home. All of the departing missionaries spend the night so that we can all head to the airport bright and early the next morning. That night in the mission home we ate dinner, and then we had a testimony meeting. That was so neat because we were able to see how each of us have grown since we left the MTC together. It was sweet to be there with the sisters I started this journey with!
Tuesday was probably the longest day of my whole life. It began at the lovely hour of 3:30am, where 10 sister missionaries fought over mirror space in the two bathrooms in the McMurray's basement. We then left for the airport at 4:15, to be there at 5:15 so that the 7:15 flight could check in. My grandparents and uncles were at the airport when we got there to see me off- they live in the Denver area- and that was crazy to see them! I had been doing pretty good emotion wise until I saw them, and then reality hit and I started to fall apart! And right after that we all went through security and I had to say goodbye to the McMurray's and the other departing missionaries. That was so weird. I felt like I was leaving my family all over again!
So I was already off to a rocky and emotional start... and it just got more stressful from that point on. My first plane was delayed 45 minutes which was no bueno because my layover in Atlanta was only 50 minutes, which meant that I would be cutting it really close to make my second flight into Arkansas. I need to make a little disclaimer here and say that I set a goal for myself that I would pass out two copies of the Book of Mormon on my way home. On my first flight I sat down first. I kept sizing up each person who was walking towards my row to see if one of them could be the lucky owner of Book of Mormon. Well after about 15 minutes of this I finally made eye contact with a lady and she was heading straight for the seat next to mine. "This is it" I thought. "You've been passing out copies of the Book of Mormon for 18 months and its been harder because they can close the door in your face. She is trapped on this airplane with you!" She looked at my badge and then smiled and me and said, "Hello Sister Hooper! I am Sister Green!" OF ALL OF THE PEOPLE ON THE PLANE THAT I COULD SIT NEXT TO, I GOT PUT NEXT TO THE ONLY OTHER MORMON! What are the odds? Well we had a really great conversation and she answered a lot of prayers for me!
Before that flight even landed in Atlanta, the flight attendant came on to read off all of the connecting flights. She sad that there was only 20 minutes between then and when my next flight took off. So obviously I was slightly worried... especially because I had to go all the way across the Atlanta airport to get to my next flight. Also, I hate the Atlanta airport. Some nice people on the first flight let me run past them to try to get to my plane. So I take off running and get to the tram that goes through the airport, and wouldn't you know it, THE TRAM WAS EXPERIENCING MOMENTARY TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES. So I proceed to sprint 3 terminals to try to get to my flight. I end up hopping on the tram because it decided to start working again and running and flats don't mix so well. I barley make it onto the tram and I am panting more than my dog in the middle of the summer after she chases the skunks out of our yard. The guy I was standing next to kept looking at me like I had some sort of plague so I decided to talk to him. I asked him how he was doing and where he was going, you know, basic airport small talk. Well I told him about how I haven't seen my family in 18 months and I have approximately 6 minutes to get on my flight or else I would get left behind. He could tell that I was very obviously stressing out, so as soon as the tram doors opened, he looked at me, told me to grab onto his backpack, and the pushed us through the crowds of people all the way up the escalator while shouting "Excuse me people, move move move!!! We've got 5 minutes to get this missionary on a plane!! Out of my way!!" And this was a big guy too! He was probably 6'5 and 200+ pounds. When we got out of the crowd of people, I took off sprinting again (which I later learned was in the wrong direction) and as I ran away the man was yelling "Good luck Sister Hooper!! WOOOOOOO!" with his fist in the air. It was awesome!
I got on my next flight just in the nick of time. They literally closed the door behind me. The flight attendants were so startled by my appearance (panting, sweaty, red face) and concerned for me because of my physical state so they gave me a bottle of water. I found my seat and sat down next to a man who had headphones in and was doing work on his laptop. But I set that Book of Mormon goal and I knew that Heavenly Father wanted me to share the gospel and that He would help me. So I prayed and asked for help to have an opportunity to start talking to him. Not too much later the attendants came by asking for drink orders! So he took out his headphones and and I took that opportunity to strike up a conversation with him. I asked him why he was heading to Arkansas. He told me that he works for a vitamin company and they were doing some big deal with Wal-Mart and then asked me why I was going to Arkansas. That was just the perfect opportunity for me to tell him all about my mission and I think I explained everything about the mission; from the purpose of missionaries down to how transfers work. He was so interested and intrigued by the whole thing. We then started having a conversation about God and our beliefs. He shared with me that he and his wife's first baby had a bunch of health challenges and she passed away not long after birth. Up until that point, they were both pretty passive about their belief in God. they believed in a God, but weren't active in having a relationship with Him. After their baby passed away, they had a lot of questions about life and death and that they could really only turn to God. I was then able to talk about the plan of salvation with him and how through temples he can be with his family forever. He listened so intently and had so many questions for me. At the end of the flight I asked him if he would like a copy of the Book of Mormon to which he gladly accepted and told me that that was the best airplane conversation he's ever had. It was an incredible way to spend my last hours as a missionary.
Then I finally got to see my family for the first time in 18 months. That was such a happy and wonderful reunion!!!!!! I never wanted to let go of them when I hugged them!!!! There were so many wonderful people who showed up at the airport to support me as well and I am so grateful to all of you who came!!!
About an hour and a half later we went to the stake center to meet President Keogh so I could be released. I don't think I have ever experienced something as difficult as that. It broke my heart to take off my tag. I still introduce myself as Sister Hooper and I just talk about my mission and the church to everyone i talk to. Because of my mission, the gospel has become a part of me. I know this church is true without a shadow of a doubt. I know that the Lord loves each and every one of us. He knows us personally and that when we turn to Him and allow Him in our lives that miracles will happen. Please allow Him into your life. He will help you.
Thank all of you for following my journey these last 18 months. Your support has meant the world to me and I am grateful for each one of you!!!
Last car selfie of Sister Manning and I!
Rod and Virginia
Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Jeff, and Uncle Michael
Pictures from the homecoming!
I cannot believe that the end is here. It doesn't seem real. I had such a fantastic last week in the mission field though.
Last Monday we hiked Horsetooth and that was so much fun and so pretty. I love hiking and being in nature. Sister M and I had such a fun time and felt so close to God as we looked out on Colorado. Wow that sounded so cheesy. Sorry everyone!
Friday I had the opportunity to go to the temple for my departing temple trip which was so amazing. It was crazy being there with all of the sisters I came out into the field with!! It was so surreal thinking that it has been 18 months. I am still in denial that I am going home. It doesn't feel real. I feel like I am just going to be FaceTiming my family or something! The temple was so wonderful though. I felt so at peace and felt so much love from Heavenly Father. The temple is such an amazing place.
Saturday was SUCH A GOOD DAY!!!! So the first amazing thing was the lesson we had with Jolie (she was the lady we tracted into a few weeks ago). She is just so prepared and ready for the gospel! She has some concerns with actually coming to church, so we deviated from our lesson plan and addressed her needs and by the end she was so excited to come to church! And when we left she went "Wow I am so fired up right now and ready to read the Book of Mormon!!!" It was so cute! Love her! OH AND THEN WE SET HER ON DATE FOR BAPTISM ON APRIL 29TH!!!!!!!!!! When we extended the baptismal invite she said, "Yeah that would be cool." And then we asked if she would do it on the 29TH, and she said ''Yeah I think that is a great idea!" I'M SO PUMPED. After the lesson I almost broke down because I just love being a missionary so much and I don't want to stop doing the Lords work!
On Saturday night a bunch of my favorite ladies from the ward threw me a surprise good bye party and that was so sweet of them! I love this ward so much! But I just really really love all of the people in this mission that I have met and am grateful for the impact they have had on my life.
And then to top off my amazing week, JOLIE CAME TO CHURCH AND STAYED ALL THREE HOURS!!! She participated in all of the classes and just loved every minute of it. She told our ward mission leader that everyone in church needs to get used to her because she will probably be sticking around! Dreams and miracles do come true! They made me speak in like every hour of church and it was a lot, but luckily I didn't cry!! Go me!
I just want you all to know how much I have loved being a missionary and I don't really want to go home (sorry momma). This has been the greatest 18 months of my life and I have been blessed with the greatest experiences. I would not trade these last 18 months for anything. This experience has allowed me to learn and grow in ways I couldn't have ever imagined. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that He died for each and every one of us. I know that this is His work and that He leads and guides this church. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that is was translated by the power of God. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that he restored Christ's church in its fullness under the direction of Jesus Christ. I know that God lives and that He loves each and every one of His children. I love this work. I love my Savior, and I love being a missionary. It is the best thing on the planet.
Thank you all for following me on this incredible experience for the last 18 months. Thank you for your love and support and prayers. I have felt them and I am so grateful for all of you!!!
District dinner with the Kings!
Car selfies because we are the queens of car selfies.
Departing temple trip pictures! Oh and Sister Mickelsen and I! MTC comps reunite!
Somehow all of us sisters showed up in floral....
THE TIME IS GOING BY WAY TOO FAST!! This week was kind of weird if I'm being honest here....
Monday was so much fun. We had our district P day which means it was a full day of Us and the elders in our district being weird in Fort Collins. We started our p day off by making brunch together at the church. The elders were an hour late.... not surprising at all. Then we went into Fort Collins to go bowling. That was truly a sight. In case anyone was wondering, bowling in a dress is a challenge, but totally possible. I dominated at bowling with an incredible score of 35. The elders kept trying to give me bowling tips and for some reason they didn't quite understand that I didn't care whether or not I bowled well. After bowling, we went to downtown Fort Collins and explored the fun little shops. Elder Coleman suggested that we go to this place called Nuance Chocolate where they make chocolates from all over the world! We got to taste a bunch of them and it was so fun! It was a good day!
Tuesday and Wednesday were weird days because NO ONE WAS HOME AND IT WAS ACTUALLY INFURIATING!!!! We tried so many people and knocked on so many doors and no one wanted to talk to us or let us in. It was rough.
Friday I had my departing interview with President McMurray and that was so bittersweet. I still can't wrap my head around the fact that it's all coming to an end. President McMurray gave me lots of tips for returning home and staying strong and active through the transition. He then gave me lots of advice for dating and marriage which was weird. I just love this mission and I love the McMurrays so much!
On Friday we also had the opportunity to do some service cleaning up a ladies yard. Our district leader called us and the other elders in to help when they realized there was no way they could do it on their own. We helped her sweep off her porch, clean up leaves and pine needles, and moved things to her garage. But we also did one of the most truly disgusting things of my life. Next to her house she had a pile of garbage that had been there for who knows how long. We had to literally dive in it and carry it all out. I don't know what we touched or smelled or experienced, but it was nasty. We then had to try to take the garbage to the dump and when we got there, they told us they had just closed 30 minutes earlier. So we had driven rank garbage, 30 minutes away, while smelling like rank garbage, just to be told to drive it all the way back. But it was so much fun to serve and help that lady!!! I love serving!!!
Saturday we tracted all day and people were either not home or rude. We were joking with each other about how our smiles will melt people's hatred towards us away, when this guy opens the doors and very meanly says, "We don't accept solicitors here. And there aren't supposed to be solicitors in Severance." He slammed the door and I turned to Sister M and said to her "Well, my dazzling smile sure didn't melt his hatred away." We got a good laugh out of that and kept going. We tracted into this awesome guy named Scott! He talked with us for like 30 minutes about so many different things! He first brought up the temple and we were able to show him the pictures of the inside of the Fort Collins temple and the talk about what we do in temples and why. Then we talked about the Book of Mormon, baptism, Joseph Smith and so much more! He was way accepting of all of it and kept talking about how cool that was. He took a Book of Mormon and said we can come back next weekend and talk to him and his family more. So exciting!
I cannot believe that all of this is coming to an end. This week will be the last week of my mission and I am so sad. I could not be more grateful for this experience, for the incredible people I've met and places I've been and opportunities I've been given. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and I love His gospel. It is perfect and brings hope and peace into our lives when we live it and allow it to do so.
I love and miss you all! Have such an amazing week!!
When you hate the wind
Sister M and I
District p day
We ate at Stuft which is the best burger place. Sister M's milkshake is blocking my burger though.
We were Tracting and found someone who loves giraffes too!
Exhausted after Tracting all day
We are the queens of car selfies
Pictures from our hike at horsetooth this morning!
Good news! Neither Sister Manning or I got sick and died this week. Miracles are real! But this week was so good! We had a lot of success and miracles!
So on Tuesday, we went to the temple like I mentioned last week. It was so wonderful I am so grateful for temples. I felt so much peace and love in the temple. They are such a blessing in my life. I haven't realized how much I love and need the temple, until I haven't been able to go for months! It is a place of refuge from the craziness of our world.
This week was a really mentally tough week for Sister M and I. We were fighting a lot of stress and discouragement. But the Lord helped us through and gave us the strength we needed!
So Sister M and I relived high school for an hour one night this week. We went to go see a less active family. They have a daughter who is 18 and has decided on her own to come back to church. We stopped by her house and it was just her, her less active brother, and his non member girlfriend. All of them are still in high school. We sat down and the non member girlfriend started asking us tons and tons of questions about being missionaries and the rules we follow and different things. It was a really good discussion. Then they start to tell us about some of their wild days in high school, which included a senior trip to San Bernardino where the swat team crashed a party they were at, and watching the sunrise while on acid. I'm not sure how they are still alive, but they have all decided to leave their party life behind and make better choices which was so cool to hear about. While the brother and his girlfriend aren't interested in the gospel right now, you can see how the choices of the sister to come back to church are helping them make better decisions and see what is really important in life.
On Saturday we blocked out a whole bunch of time to just knock doors because we have no teaching pool. So I am not the biggest fan of knocking doors, I don't know a lot of people who are, but it is something we just do. We picked this one street, packed our bags with copies of the Book of Mormon, and set out to find people who would be interested in hearing how the gospel will bless their lives. The first 45 minutes yielded no results, but it was a gorgeous day and I didn't mind being outside. Then we knock on this one door and a very friendly lady opened the door! Her name is Jolie. She told us that her brother was a member of the church and that he had taken her through the Fort Collins Temple Open House and that she really enjoyed it. As we were talking, she told us about how she loves to paint and invited us in to look at some of her paintings. As we were standing there, Jolie told us about how her husband had passed away about a year and a half ago and that it has been hard for her because she knows they are supposed to still be together. She isn't quite sure what her belief of the after life is, but she knows that she doesn't believe in a hell and that everyone goes to heaven, but it's divided into levels depending on how good you were. Well that just so happens to be what we believe as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! We were able to share part of the plan of salvation with her and give her a copy of the Book of Mormon. Jolie loved what we shared and was so interested and excited to learn more and have us come back. It was such a neat experience and testifies to me that Heavenly Father is always preparing His children!
Yesterday we were trying to contact some people on the ward list that we knew nothing about. We decided to look for a lady named Jennifer. So we go to the house, pull in the drive way, and are greeted by the opening song of "The Lion King" being blasted. The music was coming from a massive shop behind the house. We were trying to figure out if we should knock on the door or go creep in the shop, when 4 guys walk out of the shop. They all look like they're in the 20's and they're pretty rough looking. Well they walk over to us and I asked if there was a Jennifer that lived there. One of the guys replies by saying, "No, but I could be Jennifer if you wanted." Whoa homeboy. Calm down. We all laughed and then Sister M and I started talking to them about the church. One of the guys said he was forced to go to church because his parents are Mormon. He told us that he hated the three hours of church though. I mean three hours is a long time... As we kept talking to these guys, we found out that they just graduated from high school! Like they're 18! I FELT SO OLD! Sister M and I tried so hard to get them to take the lessons, but they're teenage boys and wanted to be cool. I think if they weren't all together, they would've been interested. But we all became good friends and they invited us to watch them drag race that night. We told them we couldn't because of mission rules. They were in shock when we told them about the rules we follow as missionaries. They couldn't believe that we couldn't just hang out with them! Next time boys, next time.
There seems to be a constant reminder that my time is short and I hate it. Being a missionary has truly been such a blessing in my life. I wish I could keep doing this forever! I hope you all are taking the time to pray and think about those in your lives who are ready for the gospel.
I love you and miss you all so much!
Pictures from our exchanges with the STL's last week.
More pictures from the temple.
The King's (an office missionary couple) bought us beads to celebrate Mardi Gras.
When you do yoga during comp study.
So we went to the temple this morning which is why I am emailing today!! This is going to have to be kind of a quick email...
So I was sick like all week last week! It was awful! I started throwing up last Monday night and all day Tuesday, started feeling better on Wednesday and then was doing okay Thursday. Well Friday my
stomach was like just kidding. I still hate you. So Friday night and Saturday I got so sick again. It was awful! Three weeks left and I'm confined to home! I hate it!!!! But I'm on the mend so Severance better watch out!
We had zone conferences this week. So crazy because it was my last zone conference!!! I had to give my departing testimony and that was weird. I cannot believe it's been 18 months....it's gone by way too
We were on exchanges with our STL's yesterday. I was with Sister Barlocker and we had so much fun!! We were tracting and met two Brian's who were both Lutheran. Apparently it's a requirement for this
We did a Fireside for the youth on Sunday and it was so good! We love being with the youth! They are so funny.
Sorry this email is so short. I'm sending lots of pictures to make up for it. I miss you all and love you! Hope you have a great week!
Well it happened. I picked up what Sister Manning had. Luckily it hasn't been as bad, but an elder in our district is sick as well so it just seems that we all are catching the plague.
On Monday and Tuesday we stayed in all day so that Sister M could recuperate. I almost went crazy... but I didn't and some how endured. We were able to get out on Wednesday though and go to zone meeting which was super fun! They had me give a training since it was my last zone meeting. That was depressing.
This week has been pretty slow work wise. A lot of knocking on doors. That has always been a struggle for me to be super pumped up about because I haven't had a ton of success with it. But we made a lot of contacts and some fun new friends. No one was super interested but that's okay. We have to push through the hard time and put our faith in Heavenly Father that He will lead us to those who are prepared!!
I think I mentioned in my email a few weeks ago that we found our old people service! So we serve lunch to seniors on Fridays, and this last Friday was hilarious! So we walk in and everyone is just staring at us. We were so confused because we had been there before, maybe their memories are a little faded, but still! As they come up to get their food, almost all of them commented on how tall we are (Sister M is just a few inches shorter than I am). Then one of the guys who runs it goes, "Hey girls, our basketball practices are on Tuesday's. We will see you there." Then this lady is walking by us getting her food, and she double takes, gasps, and goes "You two are BEAUTIFUL! Where are you from??" Basically the nicest thing I've ever heard!!! Then while we were eating with some of the old ladies we were talking about the scary world is now. This one lady goes, "You know when it started going downhill? Back in the 60's with the flower children, when you two were born." Haha Sister M goes, "We were born in the late 90's..." and this lady just stares at us for a minute, makes a distasteful noise, and then changes the subject. We died laughing! I LOVE OLD PEOPLE!
In fun and exciting news, I saw my aunt and uncle yesterday! So my aunt Amy's mom lives in this ward and my uncle Jeff and aunt Amy came up for the weekend so I got to see them! It was fun, but weird. because I never thought I would see my family on my mission!
This week I have been so humbled and grateful for my Heavenly Father and His perfect timing in answering our prayers. I know He knows us and knows exactly when we need our prayers to be answered.
I hope y'all have such a good week! I miss you and love you so much!!
We made it out of the house! So much excitement on our way to zone meeting.
Saying goodbye to the Jensens
My cute cousin Alister
Good news...I successfully survived this week without another episode of leprosy. Hallelujah! This week was a whirlwind! So Monday night I sent Sister Sorenson home and it just about broke my heart. That was one of the hardest things I've had to do my whole mission. I love that girl so much and I am so grateful for the 6 weeks I had with her.
I got Sister Manning on Tuesday and it was weird from the beginning. But not a bad weird. The best kind of weird because we are basically the same person. So right from the beginning we were just amazed that the other one got it. So needless to say we have had a ton of fun and have been laughing
almost non stop! Sister Manning is from Seattle, WA and has been out for 4 and a half months. The craziest thing is that we lived at the same place at BYUI, but she was there after me since I was on my mission at that point. How cool is that??
Sister Manning has basically been dying this week so we haven't had the opportunity to do much work. She has been sick with anything and everything and we decided that the shift from Casper, WY to Colorado was just too much for her. But she is a trooper and hanging in there. Hopefully she starts
feeling better soon!
In my down time I've had the opportunity to develop some talents. For example:
We live with Brother Cross who is this old man. He can't do much for himself at all. A few weeks ago he asked me if I would help him try to fix his light fixture in his kitchen. He told me that it would be a simple fix. Well we haven't really had the time to do that until this week when we've been in all day. So I offered my height to assist him in lighting the kitchen and it was the most hilarious experience of my life. Physics in high school taught me no real life applications with electricity, like rewiring an entire light fixture. So I climb up on the counter and open the fixture and then proceed to take out all of the bulbs and then dissembling all of the parts. I then have to strip some wires out of the holder for one of the bulbs and then put a new holder in. Brother Cross then chose that opportune moment to flip the light switch on to see if it was working (I hadn't even put the bulbs in yet) which shocked the freaking daylights out of me! Brother Cross goes, "Oh Sister Hooper, you've got to be careful! This is running electricity!" Thank you. Yes I am aware of that fact. My dad would be so proud though because I got everything assembled and put together. He has something wrong with a box inside the fixture though
because two of the bulbs wouldn't turn on. Brother Cross was pretty disappointed that I couldn't get the other two bulbs working. Listen folks, I'm not actually an electrician. I'm just really tall and sort of smart. So that was probably the highlight of exciting moments this week. Get it...light fixtures.... highlight. Oh man I crack myself up.
In other height news... we now serve lunch to old people (my favorite kind of people) at the rec center a couple of times a week. This old man came up to Sister M and I and goes, "If I started a basketball team, would you both be on it?" I swear. I'm only needed because I'm tall.
Anyways, in depressing news, our ward boundaries have completely changed and we have lost all of our work. That means we are no longer teaching the Jensen's. I am so sad to be losing them. But this is one of those time when I have to put my faith in the Lord and trust in His plan. Sister Manning and I will be hitting the pavement and knocking lots of doors these next couple of weeks because we have no one left to teach. But it will be a really great character building experience!
I am so glad to be here in Severance. It is such a blessing to serve my Lord every day! I miss you and love you all! Hope you have a great week!!
The most money I've ever held in my life!
This week has been so crazy!!! We found out transfer news this week and I am staying in the Severance Ward. But Sister Sorenson won't be with me. She has actually decided this last week to return home. It has been a hard 6 weeks for her and it is the right thing. I am so sad she is leaving though. She has been an incredible companion and has given her all to serving the Lord. I couldn't be more grateful for her and all she has done for me these last 6 weeks. My new comp is Sister Manning. I don't know much about her except that this will be her 4th transfer (I think) and she loves lipstick too. That is exciting!
I don't even know where to start about this week! I guess with the unfortunate event that occurred in my life this week. That is having a freak allergic reaction to ICE CREAM! And not just any ice cream but CHOCOLATE BROWNIE FUDGE ICE CREAM! How awful is that??? It all started out on Wednesday morning when I woke up with my eyes swollen shut. I should also mention that I was on exchanges with Sister Barlocker so she was having to deal with me during all of this. Poor girl! During studies that morning I looked at the scar I have on my arm and noticed that is was super red and swollen and it hurt so bad! Then I looked at my knee scars and it was the same thing! I decided it wasn't too bad though and we went out to go see some people. It progressively started getting worse and I was getting itchy all over. We still had no clue at this point what I was reacting to. I decided to go get some Benadryl to see if that would help. And anyone who knows me knows that that is a terrible idea because I am a hot mess when I take Benadryl. Well I went to the mission office after I took one to talk to the senior sisters that serve there and see if they could give me some advice. They all gave me their motherly opinions and one of the senior elders serving there freaked me out by telling me he thought I had shingles. I AM 20! I cannot have shingles! Well at this point the Benadryl was kicking in and my brain was going around in circles. Good thing I don't drink because I think I would be a wreck if I ever did. They whole mission office was telling me that I was a lightweight. I called the mission nurse and she was awesome and although we didn't figure out the reason for the reaction, she told me it would probably go away. Then sister Barlocker and I went out to work again. Terrible idea. I had her drive because I was in no position to be operating a vehicle. I tried to give her directions places but kept falling asleep mid sentence or I would just say random things. Then the weather turned nasty and we got an ice storm (Arkansas winters) and we all had to go home for the night. We waited for our comps to come back to Windsor so we could exchange back, at that point I had gotten a second wind and was feeling much better. The weather was way bad and the other sisters had to crash with us for the night. So they came to our house and we made dinner, and then we had chocolate brownie fudge ice cream. I kid you not, 20 minutes later I started to itch and looked at my arm and I looked like a freaking leper! So I ran to the bathroom and took of my shirt and I was COVERED in a hive/rash thing and it itched so bad I thought I was going to die. It was even starting to come up on my neck and face! So I popped another Benadryl and then headed to bed. It was quite the wild and memorable adventure. The good news... we have gotten rid of the poison and I have made a full recovery! I am just eliminating ice cream from my diet for a while.
We also found out this week that our stake and the Fort Collins stake are getting realigned which means some major boundary changes. Our ward is getting cut in half and we will probably be losing some of our teaching pool which stinks.
We saw the Jensen's this week and they are doing good! I just love that family and how much they love the gospel. They are continuing to progress, but it has been a slow progression. I have faith that they will choose to really commit to the gospel and that makes me so happy!!
Today is a bitter sweet day since I am losing Sister S as well as some of my best mission friends. It is a sad reminder that 6 weeks from now, I will be heading home. So crazy. I am immensely grateful for this experience. I wouldn't give it up for anything. I love this gospel and I know it is true. I hope you all have such an incredible week!
Scrabble with STL's during our lockdown
Fun pictures from through the week, including me in a very fantastic mustache
What an exciting week we have had here in the Severance Ward! Last Monday we hiked Horsetooth Rock in Fort Collins and it was a blast; well at least I thought so. Sister S doesn't like hiking at all and had a pretty miserable time. But she was such a trooper and didn't complain once! She almost died twice and that was terrifying! She didn't want to go all the way to the top of the rock so we stayed lower and waited for the elders. It started to get cold so I started running around the trees to stay warm. As I was running circles around this one tree, I ran straight into a tree branch and cut my arm. That was painful.
On Tuesday we had a really awesome day! There was a missionary broadcast and some big announcements were made. Our missionary schedule is way different, hence why I'm sending this email now. And the things we report on throughout the week have changed as well. It's giving missionaries the ability to manage their time the way it works best for them where they are serving. Then on Tuesday night we met with the Jensens! So they fed us dinner and IT WAS SO GOOD! They smoked us some ribs and I just about died and went to heaven. I miss BBQ so much. Then we had an awesome lesson about the atonement with them. They are doing awesome; reading the Book of Mormon and praying together every night. It's amazing to see the change that is taking place! They didn't come to church yesterday because they are in Utah, but they are still doing awesome!
Sister McMurray went out with us on Thursday night and that was a blast! We took her to go see this less active family and the mom just talked and talked and talked! When we got out of there, Sister McMurray goes, "Holy cow! Did you know that woman would talk for that long?" We didn't because it was a first lesson, but we were all cracking up because of this lady! Sister McMurray is the best to take out teaching. We love her so much!
This weekend we helped some nonmembers move into their new house. They aren't moving into our ward, but the missionary force showed up to get the job done. I honestly don't know why people trust 19 and 20 year old boys to help them move because sometimes they are pretty careless. One elder decided to carry a kind sized headboard on his back, like a ninja turtle and ran into their door frame with it. We all screamed "ELDER!" And he just goes, "What?" Major face palm.
In other terrifying news, I got my flight plans this week and screamed and panicked. Poor Sister S was really concerned for me and texted the elders because I was having a mini freak out. They were very concerned for me, but I'm doing good now! I've dealt with it and I'm going to work even harder these last 7 weeks!!!
That's all I've got for now folks! I love you all and miss you so much!!!! Have a great week!!
Here is a bunch of pictures from us hiking Horsetooth. One elder has a camera that's not an iPad so we got some sweet pictures. Please ignore the really crusty face I'm making in one of them. Clearly I'm not good at the candid picture thing.
It has been such a good week! I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!! This week was just full of uplifting and strengthening experiences that only increased my love of missionary work and being a missionary.
Tuesday was a slower day for us and I was just super exhausted. But we visited this sweet less active sister who is confined to her home due to some really difficult health challenges. She hasn't been to church in years and has started to feel the need to go back, even though it would be a really difficult thing for her to do. I so admire her faith and trust in the Lord as she is trying to draw closer to Him and bring that missing peace back into her life.
Wednesday was so amazing! We had zone Conference and it was one of the best zone conferences I've had my whole mission. It was all centered on the atonement and missionary work. President McMurray gave an incredible training all about how our experience as missionaries is similar to the atonement, that missions were never supposed to be easy, just like the atonement wasn't easy for the Savior. I was reminded of an experience I had at the beginning of my mission when I was having a really hard time. We were driving out to Carpenter, WY and I had the thought, which I know was from the spirit, that this was an opportunity for me to better understand what the Savior went through for me, that as hard as this was for me, it was infinitely harder for the Savior. But He didn't give up on me, He didn't stop the atonement just because it was too hard, so who am I to quit my mission and give up on Him and His work. I've learned so many lessons from that experience that relate not only to missionary work, but trials in life in general. Though it might feel like the end or that things are never going to get better, we know they can and they will because our Savior made it through and He understands us perfectly.
We had exchanges this week and that was way fun... weird not being a sister training leader on the exchange, but I was with Sister Hoffman and we had a really good time together! She's an incredible sister!
The Jensens came to church on Sunday and it was aweomse to see them there again! Sister Sorenson and I gave talks which is always an adventure.
We just got back from hiking all day so if you don't get an email from me... that's why!!! I'm so sorry and I promise I'll write back next week! But you will see cool pictures of Horsetooth next week!
Exchanges with Sister Hoffman and Sister Barlocker
Me in Nunn, CO