Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Kentucky to Virginia

Two suitcases and backpack.  I love that my whole life can just be packed up in a few hours and the next day I can be living in a whole new place. #LiveSimply. I came across a scripture in the BOM the morning of transfers that talked about god watching over "us wanderers in this strange land." That hit me so hard. This land is strange, and I am wandering through it, but I have never felt more taken care of by God. Sister R-------, the woman who picked me up and took me to Ashalnd when I was just a tiny new baby missionary (that feels like eons ago,) took us to transfers again. She gave me 4 cd's she had burned of music she listened to on her mission in Belgium to be for my birthday! I wanted to cry, I felt like I couldn't leave the people of Ashalnd I loved so much.

Anyway, we got to transfers..... and President Pitt was there. I wish you could feel the power of that man's presnece in a room. He fills the chapel completely. And he fills it with love. I've never expereienced anythhing like it. Testimonies are born and goodbyes are given to departing missionaries. Then, the incoming missionaries are lined up against the wall. Just like I was 6 weeks prior. My heart started to pound just remembering my feelings from that day. I so badly wanted to just hug them all, tell them it would be alright. The trainees were all assigned their new companions and everyone split to go to their new areas. My new companion wasn't able to be there because Lexington is about 5 hours away from Charleston the way you have to come for transfers. (It takes so long because a train of vans and a huge truck for all the luggage have to come together and pick up everyone from the different areas along the way) Luckily, I got to travel with Sister Call, my favorite girl from my zone who plays rugby, and her new trainee. We got all our luggage in the truck and loaded into the vans and my all-day journey began. We left at about noon and I didn't get to Lexington until 7 that night. It was pretty exhausting,  but I saw two very important tender mercies happen on that ride.

Angels are among us. I know that for sure. And many times, those angels are actual people. On that long transfer ride God sent me two beautiful angels, the first by the name of Sister Herzog. I don't really know how it happened, but everyone in the van was kind of chatting with everyone and I got caught in this conversation with Sister Herzog. It's also interesting because I have seen her at different things throughout this last transfer, and I felt a weird connection to her that I didn't think of much or act upon at all. Well, now I understand that connection. We shared the warmest, most loving conversation I have maybe ever been in. It wasn't about anything deep, and she probably felt like it was just another conversation. But as we talked, I felt as if God was telling me, "Darcy, look at this girl. Look at yourself. You are sisters, you can be companions with anyone, and I have companions you will LOVE, just like you love Sister Herzog right now." I can't tell you how much I needed that. I was excited to be getting a new companion, but also so scared. I didn't know if I could go through another adjustment like I did last transfer. But again, God let me know that everything would be ok.

We continued travelling until we got to Virginia, there we stopped at a buffet to eat. We had gained and lost missionaries all throughout our drive at different stops, and at this particular stop we gained quite a few elders. As we were standing in line waiting to go into the buffet, I looked behind me just to see how many people where there. I did a double-take on a certain face in the crowd. A face that looked like home. As I looked back again, realizing what I had just seen, I didn't even think as I said "Justin???" Justin Maxwell, a boy I loved but never knew REALLY well in high school looked back at me in suprise. He kinda laughed and smiled as he said, "It's been a while since anyone's called me that, Sister Lytle." We laughed and shook hands. I had no idea he was in my mission! We had such a great conversation during dinner and I just felt so... happy. Easy happiness was not something I felt my first weeks. My happiness was hard won. I had to fight so hard for it, which made it mean so much more to me, but getting to feel that easy, home-y happiness, made a world of difference for me that day. It eased alot of homeisckness, and I know that God had placed Justin, Elder Maxwell, in my path in high school specifically so he could show up in my mission at the exact moment I needed that comfort he provided. God has a plan. It is so intricate and so perfectly planned. Never think that a single person you meet, or thing you say or do has no consequence, because I am here to tell you, IT DOES. God is a god of perfect order. Everything is for a reason.

The miles wore on and the sun slipped below the horizon. We continued to lose people until the last stop, Roanoke Virginia. There we dropped off Justin and it turns out that his new companion was Elder Hamburg, the boy I rode next to on our flight from Atlanta to Charleston. Because we had our first glimpes of West Virginia together, he will forever hold a special place in my heart. It was so good to get to say hello to him and shake his hand. After that, me, another sister, and two elders got on the last van that would take us to Lexington. It was about an hour ride... and when we got there, I got to meet my new best friend, Sister Pierson. It's kind of a joke that your companion is your forced best friend, but really, we are best friends. She took me to our little apartment; we live in the basement of a member's home. I LOVE where we live. It's adorable!  Sister Pierson helped me hang up pictures above my bed and this apartment just really feels like HOME to me. Sister Pierson feels like a sister. We have so much in common. She is a total tomboy like me and we are constantly laughing! REALLY laughing--good solid belly laughs.

The elders in our area are also really great. Just like in Ashland we have two other sets of elders in our ward, one of which is a set of zone leaders who are amazing. The other elders in our ward are really funny. They have to come through our area sometimes, and my second night here.... we get a weird text from them and hear some weird noises at our door as we are doing training. We go to our door to see what's going on... and find a HUGE pile of leaves blocking our door so we can hardly get out. And then we hear laughing and steps running away and getting in a car. 

Not only are the missionaries and ward members here great.... but EVERYONE is great here.  It feels like home. I wish you could see downtown Lexington. Everything is very colonial and beautiful and almost a little bit hipster. I could live here forever. Virginia Military Academy is right downtown and so you see military men everywhere. But then, here's what really gets me. Our area goes out into Collierstown, and more rural areas. I have literally never seen country as beautiful. It's very different from Ashland. The mountains are bigger, there are more fields and more cows.... more little rivers and.... I can't even describe it. It's heaven. I think maybe I got it wrong, West Virginia is almost heaven because VIRGINIA is heaven! And I got to see my first possum!! They walk really slow and play dead... and they're actually pretty creepy! Apparently Sister Pierson got to have possum stew the other week... So I'm gonna see if I can get me some of that too!  

Lastly, EVERYONE needs to check out "The Lower Lights," it's the unofficial CD of the West Virginia Charleston Mission. Everyone here either has it or has heard it. That music will forever be connected in my heart to the beautiful veiws in Collierstown... and the beauty of this mission. But seriously, check it out. The music is absolutely beautiful. Know that I couldn't be happier. I'm where I'm supposed to be, and I love it. 

My "mom," her mom, and her mom. . .

Kentucky Snowsister

The elders baked me a cake!

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