Monday, January 27, 2014

Bone Chilling Cold

Yep. It snowed in Lexington. You would think that the world was ending by the way all the schools shut down and every appointment we had called and cancelled on us... but no... it was just SNOW. And not even an inch!! It has been REALLY cold though. The rumors are true, the cold here gets right to your bones. It literally hurts if it's below freezing. Humidity is definitely not my favorite thing. About the shotgun: heck yeah! I'm so excited!! I'm also way worried that someone out here is gonna offer to take me shooting and I'm not gonna have the willpower to say no!  #MyLeastFavoriteMissionaryRule   

This week has been a little slow because of the weather. Literally everyone cancels on us, and then no one wants to answer their door. But some good things have happened too. We did two exchanges this week with the two sets of sisters living in Buena Vista. For the first one I stayed in Lexington with Sister Shreeve. She is so awesome! We got to visit I---- who keeps saying she'll come to something and then doesn't.... BUT on the bright side, she told us she's been reading the Book of Mormon EVERY night! 

Wednesday we volunteered at RARA (Rockbridge Area Relief Association- it's a food pantry) and that's where the random text came from! There was a man volunteering there who lives in Buena Vista but is actually from Utah, and he LOVES missionaries. He took a picture of us and got our mom's numbers so he could text the picture to you. He said he does that whenever he runs into a missionary! I love people like that!  

Thursday was a Collierstown day. I live for Collierstown days. Something about that place, it just feels like home. Whenever we're out there, I KNOW that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. We were supposed to have dinner with T---- and S---- that night but they were sick so they had to cancel :(  A week doesn't really feel complete anymore unless we get to see T---- and S----. It honestly feels like going to Grandma's house every Sunday growing up. It's a second home, with family, and a week just isn't a week unless you go there. 

Friday I went on another exchange in Buena Vista with the Rockbridge sisters. I got to spend the day with Sister Isobe. She's Asian and I LOVE her! We got along super well and it was a really fun day. We got to visit with a less active man and we talked about trucks and cars for like an hour. I was definitely sent to the right mission. Being a missionary is just so crazy. I met about eight people that day and shared ideas and thoughts that are so close to my heart with them and fell in love with them. All in one day. 

Saturday we volunteered again at RARA and I met a man I just loved. I gave him our card and invited him to the open house. I hate that out here I just fall in love with people so fast, and so many times I only get to see them once and then they're gone. I really hope that I'll be able to find those people in heaven. Saturday night we had a really interesting lesson with a girl named J-----. She's looking for answers about her close friend who took his own life in December. It was a intense lesson, but she is really set in her ways, so we'll see what happens there. 

This week was super hard to write about. It was a really slow week, but I'll send some pictures instead! 


Monday, January 20, 2014

Moments of Change

How Missionary Work Feels Sometimes 

Tell Bridger he is a stud and that I LOVED all those memes he sent!!!! Made my day! Sister Pierson and I were laughing forever! I can't believe he's dating! He can't do that! 

So, you talking about A------- preaching to a room of people who used to be HER teachers reminds me of this week. This week was intense. It has probably been the most spiritually exhausting week of my mission. The big events all happened the last part of the week. We have known for a few weeks that interviews with President would be on Friday of this last week, and so we had been looking forward to that. What we didn't know, is that Thursday night, Sister Pierson and the zone leaders were called into a meeting with President and Sister Pitt. I thought that I would be babysat by Sister Pitt or something because I don't have the leadership calling that Sister Pierson holds as STL. But when we arrived, there was a chair for me around the small table in that tiny little institute building meeting room in Buena Vista, Virginia. I wish I could even explain the feelings that are involved when you get to sit in the same room as President Pitt. I feel it in big meetings, but it is OVERWHELMING in small ones. I still have yet to have an interview with President that I am able to keep it together even through the opening prayer. He is called of God. When President speaks, I know that what is being said is what God would have said. And there is something very beautiful about that. 

We sit down, and President thanks each of the zone leaders individually for their service as leaders and then turns to Sister Pierson and thanks her for all her hard work. She was the first STL ever called in our mission. I had no idea!!! Then he turns to me, and he says, "And Sister Lytle, you are every bit the STL your companion is. You go on exchanges, and you are a leader as well. Thank you for being here." As if I wasn't terrified already, I was dying after he said that. I don't know why I was so scared, it's not like anything had changed, but I suddenly realized how much was expected of me. And I felt really inadequate. I'm the kind of person who is so happy to sit behind the scenes and watch, and work, and build, where no one can see me. But I realized then that I wasn't behind the scenes as much as I thought. And that scared me. 

Throughout that meeting I was expected to comment and give my input as President tried to get a feel for what was going right and what was going wrong in the zone and our ideas on how we can improve and build here. I felt out of place as I began talking, but as I opened my mouth... just as the Lord promised... it was filled. I've never felt like a leader before in my life. Honestly, I can never really think of a time I actually did or even wanted to feel like one in the least. But as I spoke, and my mission president, a man I admire with all I am, took note of what I said and built upon that, I felt like a leader. I realized right then that we are all born to be leaders in our own capacity. Many of us won't have leadership callings but we are all the same leaders. We each have something so important to contribute no matter where we stand. We are all leaders in the sight of God. That was one of the most intense meetings I have ever been in in my life. I learned more in those two hours than I have in months. President said one thing that really hit me in that meeting. He said, "Most of God's children are changed in a very private, critical moment." We need to be watching. We need to be lifting others, because we don't know when their moment of change will be, and we need to do all we can to prepare them for it. That is what a leader does.  Life is about change, about progression, and leaders are only to help that happen. 

As we drove home from the meeting that night, there were so many thoughts running through my head that I thought I would explode. I wish I could even tell you a tenth of the things that were said in that meeting. President Pitt has a way of making you want to be the best you can be. I imagine being with him leaves you feeling in a small way how being in the presence of Christ would make you feel. So incredibly loved, but at the same time, you come out with an incredible desire to change, and to be the best you can be. I was, that night, on the cusp of my personal, private moment of change. But the actual moment didn't come until the next morning at interviews. 

Interviews are done at the same time as district meetings, and President calls us out one by one. I was first. President called me in and we began with a kneeling prayer, as always. The sun shone into that little church room that morning as I knelt with President. His prayer spoke beautifully of our Savior, and the ability to change because of him. I opened my eyes full of tears. He asked me how I was doing. It was interesting to reflect on three months ago, when I sat in my first in-field interview with him. I had wanted to leave. I didn't know if I could do this mission thing. And now, I never want to leave. He asked all the right questions, and he said all the right things. I could have sat in that room and said nothing, and President would have known everything, he is so in tune with the spirit. I honestly can't remember most of what was said. All I know is I came out, and I knew that I was going to be exactly obedient, and that I was going to be the best I could be. That was confirmed to me as we were role-playing in district meeting. We were role-playing the plan of salvation with an emphasis on God's love for us. The way things were going with the role play led me to say words that were not my own. I looked at Elder Hawes as he pretended to be an investigator and I said, "God did not create us to be second class. He did not create us to be anything less than a celestial being. He created us to be the best. And he loves us." No one needed to hear that but me. The spirit spoke to me because I again, opened my mouth, and it was filled. That was my moment of change. I was not created to be anything less than the best missionary. I am the daughter of the most powerful being in the universe, and he loves me! And this next part of my mission... it's going to be the best because I now know that :) 

Right after district meeting Sister Pierson and I had to drive to Lynchburg for exchanges. I got to spend it with Sister Morgan in Lynchburg again in that adorable little one story, hardwood floor house. I just love it there. The drive there was glorious. It takes you up and over this mountain after crossing across beautiful Virginia fields. Sister Pierson and I spent the hour and a half drive with tears in our eyes. After we had been quiet for quite some time at the beginning of our drive, Pierson looked over to me with tears running down her face as we topped the peak of the mountain. The sun was shining like it never has before. She looked at me and said, "God loves us so much. Can you feel it?" 
And I said yes.

I wish I could explain my relationship with Sister Pierson. We like to describe ourselves as an old married couple. We fight and tell each other we suck on a regular basis, and once in a while there are punches thrown--haha. But we love each other. I would do anything for that girl. I have never met anyone who understand the atonement like she does. She is so real, and she is so strong. I feel like Satan works extra hard on her because she is going to do such amazing things in her life and he doesn't want that to happen. But she is strong.  I can't wait for you all to meet her. There's not a doubt in my mind that she is the factor that was going to make or break my mission. And she made it. I owe her the world. 

I love you guys so much. You are everything to me. I can't even explain. Thank you for raising me the way you did. I am so happy to be me now. I LOVE YOU!!!!

Not sure this is what they meant by ratting your hair. . .
Christmas Golf Cart Ride

Christmas Day in Collierstown

Sunday, January 19, 2014

It Must Be Something In the Water


I guess since you asked about the water situation... I'll start out with our day in Charleston on Friday. We only spent the day, not overnight. The WHOLE mission got to come and see Elder Nielson. He is HILARIOUS!!!! As the meeting began, before it really got going, one of the AP's was announcing a few things and as he was about to sit down, Elder Nielson gets up randomly, gets this big smile, and looks out at all of us and all he says is... "Exclamation point!" He's my new favorite general authority. And yes, we drank bottled water. 

This week has been full of miracles because Sister Pierson and I have got our heads in the right place and we are being SO obedient. And it's been amazing, we have seen so many blessings that I know are directly related to our obedience. We found a woman to teach this week, and her name is I----. And it's an experience I will never forget. We were trying to contact a referral we had gotten, and we finally found her, but she was totally uninterested. When we contact referrals, President Pitt has asked us to knock on the doors of the homes right next to the one we tried to contact, and right across the street, We call it 2 by 2ing. We were in a slightly sketchy area of town, and after we left the door of the referral, Sister Pierson asks me, "This is kind of a bad part of town... and right over there is where we saw that party… do you think we should 2x2?" She obviously didn't want to... but this feeling just came over me, and I thought of my district leader in Kentucky, Elder Higley, and thought of him bearing his testimony of 2x2ing and doing what President has asked of us, and I knew we had to. And so I said, “I honestly feel totally fine.”  This doesn't sound crazy, but I never really question anything Sister Pierson says. Like. Ever. She is so great, and always knows what she's talking about... and she is the senior companion.  I said,  “C'mon. Let's do it. And so I, without thinking, walk over to the house to the right. I just walk right up and knock on the door.... and I wasn't afraid. AT ALL. Which was even more weird, because, let's be honest, knocking on doors still scares the crap out of me. I thought I would get over it one day.... but I doubt I ever will now :) . But at this door, I wasn't even scared. I knew I was supposed to knock on it. Then something else crazy happened. When the woman answered, a weird thought about Preach My Gospel went through my head, and how we need to focus on the message of the restored gospel, so at the last second, I changed what I was going to say from something about Christ, to "Hey, we're missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and we were wondering if you would like to hear a message of the restored gospel." That is such a lame door approach! Super cliche. I have no idea why I had the thought to use that. Until the woman looked up at me and said, "Yes. I would. Come in." 

THAT NEVER HAPPENS. No one ever just lets you in to give them a message! Ever! But she did. And we taught her the restoration. The whole thing. And at the end, she cried telling us how she's searching, so hard, for something more. And she said to us, "This just might be it." There wasn't a dry eye in that room.

I'll write more in a letter because I have tons to say! We've worked so hard this week! Love you all!!! Pray for I-----!!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mission Conference. Exclamation Point.


Oh gosh, I want to ski more than I can even tell you. I didn't even realize how much I loved the outdoors until I was basically cut off from it. Thank goodness I at least have Collierstown to look at. Things with the ward sound crazy! I can't believe I'll come home to a different bishop! But it's also weird... because I feel like my Lexington bishop is my real bishop now. It's crazy how much bishops do, working this closely with one has really opened my eyes. Gosh, they are amazing. 

It also makes me so happy to hear about you having the missionaries over. Sister S----- sounds insane. I would love to serve with her! And it probably is Blacksburg. Blacksburg is also where Virginia Tech is, and where Sister Reed is serving, so I got to serve that one day with her out there! I will probably get to spend another day with her later this month. 

Exciting news though, this weekend is a mission conference with the guy who gave to "Exclamation Point" talk in conference!!!! The WHOLE mission is getting together! I'm excited out of my mind! I'll get to see my MTC buddies that I haven't seen in almost 3 months now! 

So this week was transfers. Elder Jackson has been sent to Martin Kentucky, and the Zone leader, Elder Smith, was sent somewhere in West Virginia. Now Elder Moffet, Jaskson's old companion, is our new district leader! Yay! We haven't had one for a while. Transfers happened on Thursday of last week, and the transfer train leaves Lexington at 4:30 in the morning ,so Sister Pierson and I had to wake up at 4 and go see everyone off... then go back to bed. The new elders and sisters seem great and I'm excited to get to serve around new people. 

The day of transfers we went to visit a less active woman named M--- B----. She's basically the matriarch of this holler out in Collierstown that is full of less active families and part member families. She's 80-something and she can talk like nobody's business. I had never met her before, but as we drove there Sister Pierson warned me about how much she could talk. I was like, "She's just a harmless old lady, how bad can it be?" Well, the minute we got in the house, M---- B---- started talking, and we didn't get a word in edgewise until her grandson came over.... two hours later. Not only did she talk non-stop... but she has a REALLY thick Virginia accent, and when she gets going, she starts talking real fast and not really pronouncing any of her words.... and sometimes I would find myself staring at her wondering if she was even speaking English anymore. And, if I thought that was bad, when her grandson came over, (which was not only a tender mercy because it got her to stop talking, but we had been trying to meet him for quite a while and we finally got to! So hopefully we can start meeting with his family more now!) when they talked to each other, I could maybe understand half of what they were saying. #AccentsOfJustice #SouthernDrawlToTheMax 

The next morning we spent in correlation and after lunch, we planned to go visit H---- B----. We headed up to her house, past all the gorgeous fields and little rivers and when we got there and were getting out of the car, D------ , and C--------, the 19 -year- old daughter, came out of the house to get in their own car. So normally, I woud expect them to be like, "Oh hey, we were just on our way out to lunch, but we would love to have you come over another time", but I forgot, these are the B-----. I honestly have never met a family so warm and friendly. When you are in the presence of a B----, you are family. Instead, they say, "Hey, wanna come to lunch with us? We're going to Tong Dynasty  with D--------'s girlfriend and meeting our parents and uncle there." We took the opportunity to meet some more people and said of course! So we got to meet the girlfriend who lives in our area!  

Later that night we had a lesson with M---- and R---. Things have been getting weird with them. M--- is calling us multiple times a day asking us to do things for him... or calling for really no reason at all. This particular lesson was probably the worst lesson I have ever taught. Sister Pierson and I taught well enough, but the spirit was not there at all. We would be teaching about Christ, and M---- would bring up some random comment about his uncle's birthday or something ridiculous like that, and I was honestly pretty mad. I think Sister Pierson and I have known for a while that M---- and R---- were in this for the wrong reasons, but we love them, and we wanted them to accept the gospel so badly that we tried to overlook it. This time... it became pretty obvious to us that we couldn't keep teaching them until they are ready. We are called to teach those who are ready to accept the gospel, not force it upon people who don't have their hearts in the right place. So... we'll keep seeing them occasionally, but we lost them as investigators this week. Dropping investigators is probably the worst part of mission life, and afterward Sister Pierson and I were a little down. We tried visiting a few people and no one was answering, so we decided to visit D-- S-------, a recently re-activated member. I I'm not sure I've talked much about her, but she is the most positive, spiritual person I might have ever met. We have decided to start teaching the members the missionary discussions because we are having a super hard time finding people to teach, so that will not only give us opportunities to teach, but it will strengthen the members, and we're going to challenge them to find someone to invite to the weekly church tour or take the missionary discussions after we teach them to the members themselves, so they will be more comfortable with inviting people to take them---if that makes sense. So anyway, we ask her if we can teach the restoration and she's all over that, so we go ahead and teach it right then and there. That lesson, is possibly the best I have taught on my mission. As I recited the first vision, in Joseph Smith's own words, I KNEW that it really happened. I really wasn't teaching D-- at all... the spirit was teaching me. In that little apartment, on a bitter cold Virginia night, I taught myself the restoration, and I know without a shadow of a doubt, that it really happened, and that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God, and he restored the fullness of the gospel to the earth. The missionary lessons are powerful, I would encourage everyone to study them, because they've changed my life, and the way I look at the gospel.

It's so funny, how things fall apart, so better things can fall together. D-- was a back-up plan; we originally had no intention of visiting her. Our day went from teaching one of the worst lessons of my entire mission, to one of the best. If we do what we're supposed to, and live the way God wants us to, adversities might come, but they will be countered by blessings so huge we won't even know what to do with them. The smiles we left Deb's house with that night were the kind of of smiles that go right down to your soul, and the bitter night didn't seem quite so cold. 

The next day.... we visited a lot of black people. We visited L---- C----, who has invited us to sing at her Methodist church one of these next weeks! I'm scared out of my mind, but super excited! I sorta wish the word wouldn't have gotten out that Sister Pierson is such a good singer... and I'm her companion who will let myself be dragged along into singing at things. We also got to teach a lesson to a former investigator named M-------. We knocked on her door, and as soon as Sister Pierson had barely taken her hand away from the door.... M------ answered with a fork in her hand, screaming, ready to stab us!!!!! As soon as she realized it was us... she put her hand on her chest and covered her face with her other and said, "Oh lordy, I thought you was gonna sneak into mah house or something " She takes a few deep breaths... "Oh child, you 'bout scared me to death!" Sister Pierson and I were about on the ground laughing. We got to teach her a really awesome lesson and pick her up as an investigator.... and it sounds like she is going to come to church soon! 

That night we got to go visit our family… T----- and S---- :) Aw, what can I say about that visit..... every time we go over there I feel like I'm going home. They are so good to us, and we joke and laugh together like we're family. I even hesitate to say "like we're family." because we ARE family now. We know everything that is going on in their life, they know everything about us, and if we were ever to need anything, or even just needed someone to talk to, we would know exactly who to go to now that we know the H---------'s. 

The next day we woke up and went to ward council. There was a little freezing rain on our car to scrape off, and there was a little drizzle of rain as we drove. When we got to ward council, one of the counselors got a call from someone who said they had just slipped off the road as they were driving. So... they decided to cancel church. Now I say this in the most loving way possible.... Virginians are soooooo wimpy!!!!! We went back outside to drive home... and it was raining even less than it was when we had driven to the church. The bishop told us not to drive if we didn't have to that day... so we were stuck in our apartment until about 3 that afternoon, fasting. It was rough.

But when we got to go out finally.... we made up for it by getting to see my favorite less-active man T----! He gave us more sausage and also some deer steak! I've been eating that sausage like crazy. IT IS SO GOOD!!!! And, more than that, I think it just makes me feel at home. When we got there, after driving through the mud and up the mountain, we got to sit and chat with him and his wife. We sat there in that little cabin, with his dog on my lap, drinking the Pepsi he had offered us (I drink soda now haha. #YouDoWhatYouGottaDo,) sitting next to the fire, looking out on the misty valley..... for the first time, I thought, "I want to stay here forever." 


This is what happens when the elders steal your camera.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Best Christmas Ever

We're celebrating here in Lexington because..... drumroll...... ME AND SISTER PIERSON GET ANOTHER 6 WEEKS TOGETHER!!!!!! Heck yeah!!! Best Christmas Present ever! I can't believe I've already been out three months. It feels so much shorter... and longer than that at the same time. It really has been best three months of my life so far though! And I'm entering what the elders in our district call "The Year of Darkness."  I'll get to spend the whole year of 2014 as a missionary in the WVCM!!!! 

This week has been one of my favorite weeks out here in Lexington. Monday, for P-Day, we got together with our zone leaders and Lexington South and had a nerf war in the church. SO FUN. 

Tuesday was Christmas Eve. We spend the morning delivering some boxes of food for the Bishop to people in our ward boundaries that were in need and we got to share a scripture with one lady out in Collierstown. It was absolutely gorgeous out in Collierstown that day. The sky was mostly grey, with little patches of blue showing up in the South, and light flurries of snow. I wish I could just take you out and drive the roads with you that we drive in Collierstown. They're probably the most twisty crazy roads in the whole world. They lead from hollers out to huge fields that unfold over the Virginia hills. Christmas Eve was especially beautiful. It felt like Christmas and I couldn't have been happier. After that we got to visit this awesome black lady who made us eat the hugest bowl of ice cream I have ever encountered.

Christmas Eve night we got to spend with the K-----s. Brother K----- has written two books about the constitution (You should look it up. He's absolutely brilliant) and Sister K----- is a convert from Germany with a super thick accent and sweet cooking skills. She made us such a good meal and some really awesome German gingerbread cake for dessert. Everything was super proper which was very different from what I'm used to out here in the WVCM! They had beautiful glasses and perfectly folded napkins and fancy plates and it was like a three course meal and the whole nine- yards. I seriously felt like I spent Christmas in Germany, not Virginia, and it was AWESOME! We read the Christmas story with them and Brother K----- read us his favorite Christmas story,  The Magi's Gift. Everybody was crying. #ChristmasAtTheK-----s

 Sister Pierson and I went home after that and opened her pajamas her parents had sent her and..... I didn't want to feel left out so I had wrapped the Park City pajamas Curtis had sent me for my birthday and I unwrapped those!. #YouGottaDoWhatYouGottaDo. The L---s, some members in our ward, also gave us an adorable little christmas tree earlier that morning that we set up and put all our christmas presents under and we left it on all night just like we always do Christmas Eve at home! We also put some of the German cranberry bread Sister K----- had given us, and an orange, and a glass of milk for Santa, with a note for him on one of our little white boards. Super cheesy, but it was awesome. I am SO GLAD that I got to spend Christmas here in Lexington with Sister Pierson. She feels just like a sister, and everyone here feels like family. My first Christmas away from home turned out to be way easier than I thought it would be. 

After our nightly companion prayer, we went to bed, and in the morning... Santa came!!!! Thank you so much for all the awesome gifts! Everything was perfect! It seriously was the best Christmas morning ever!!! We opened our gifts right when we woke up, but then it was back to the regular missionary schedule. It didn't REALLY feel like Christmas until we headed out to T---- and S----'s that morning. Again, the drive to Collierstown just about killed me. I don't think I'll be able to stay away from this place for long. When I get home, these hills and hollers are gonna call to me just as much as my Utah mountains call to me now. I feel so at home here. This is where I'm supposed to be. I know it with everything in me. And I love it. I'm utterly and completely in love with Lexington. The sun was shining Christmas morning better than I have ever seen it shine, and I'm honestly not sure I could ever be much happier than I was then, in some of the the most beautiful country in the world, headed to the home of two of my favorite people in the world, people who are now family to me.
"Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong." -John Denver

We pulled up to T---- and S----'s and S---- was outside by the barn with Blue right on his heels. He had a big smile and wave for us as we pulled up. He always says the second we get off our missions he's gonna give us big hugs :) He took us in and T----- was there with big hugs for us, in her red polka dot robe she had gotten for Christmas. I love her so much. She had gotten S---- a brand new quad for Christmas and that was the very first thing he showed us! They are so pumped about the gospel! I get excited about it just being near them! 

T----'s son and his girlfriend were there for the holidays, too.  Before we even had a chance to sit down or anything, T----- said, "S----! Go get them their Christmas presents!" S---- brings down these two perfectly wrapped little packages and Sister Pierson and I open them. Inside, are hand stamped silver bracelets that say each of our names -Love the H--------'s  And then they have "Lexington, VA 2013" stamped on the inside. I wanted to cry. I don't think I have ever recieved a more beautiful gift in my whole life. And how perfect that it will match   my Lytle girl bracelets? Gah. I'm still just dying over it. I'll send pictures, It's beautiful! I'm pretty much adopting T---- and S---- as my WVCM parents. After that S---- took us on a ride up through their property in their golf cart! SO FUN!!!! And afterwards, T----- made us hot chocolate because she says you ALWAYS have to have hot chocolate after a cold golf cart ride. She's my kind of woman :) 

In the afternoon, we headed over to the Bishop's where I got to Skype my family!!!!! (Okay, Skype didn't cooperate, so FaceTime.)  It was so weird getting to see you guys, but SO GOOD!!!! After we had both finished, Sister Pierson asked if I had cried, and she laughed when I told her I didn't cry until you showed me Meg. #ILoveMyMeggyGirl. I still can't get over all the snow in Utah. There's none here, and probably won't ever be. I'm actually pretty over winter here. I can't wait for warm weather when we can walk! Then maybe I can walk off some of this chubbiness that comes from getting fed ALL the time. Every house we go in people try to give you food! They call it "the mission addition."  I miss and love you guys so much. I can't tell you how good it was to talk to you and see you all. I LOVE YOU!!! After that we had a yummy dinner with the Bishop and his family and played card games! Super fun night and again, I just felt so at home.

Thursday we made the long drive to Lynchburg for a zone meeting that Sister Pierson had to teach at. We got to take a picture at the weird dinosaur statue in Glasgow on that drive. It's bizarre! 

Our Zone

Friday we had an awesome lesson with the Bishop's daughter and her non-member friend at the Bishop's house. It was so good! Teaching kids is very different though. We picked up her friend as an investigator and we're going to teach her again hopefully this week! She is a doll!

Saturday was another awesome day. We had a free lunch at Kenney's with the elders and got a picture with the super weird wizard statue up there. I'm telling you, the WVCM is the weirdest place in the world. After that, we drove out to my favorite less active dude's house, the one who live across the bridge, that is sometimes flooded, up in a little cabin on the hill. We pull up and he's sitting on the tailgate of a big old truck with the radio playing old rock music and has a big native american guy with a cigarette in his hand next to him, and his little grandaughter running around playing with a big stick in the mud. I LOVE MY MISSION!!!! We get out and he has a big hello for us. We get talking and he's like, "Yeah me and J-B--- (That's his indian friend) were just contemplating cutting some wood." (Imagine this in a really think southern accent and a really deep and rough voice. But with more love than you can even imagine.) Then J-B--- pipes in and says, "Yeah, just thinking about it though" and they both bust up laughing. I felt like I was at rendezvous SO MUCH!  We chatted with them for quite a while and he was telling us about how he and his buddies, J-B--- and H----, (I don't know what their real names are) went up to West Virginia over the holidays and went to this place where they..... drumroll..... shot wild hogs! I'm starting to feel like a super hick.... because I could totally relate to everything he was saying because of Brynne's wild hog hunt. #MyFamilyIsSoRedneck #WeShouldLiveInTheWVCM. It was so awesome though. Whenever we go up there we just talk hunting and it makes me so dang happy. When we were leaving he gave us some DELICIOUS deer sausage and some of his hog too! That night we made some of the sausage and just like J-B--- said, "It puts jimmy Dean to shame!" I seriously just love my mission!!!!! WVCM for life!!!

Sunday was really cool because we got to see S---- get the priesthood!!!! Heck yeah! It was so awesome! That night we had dinner with the C------ family, the family with a single mom and 5 CRAZY girls. They played their violins and clarinet for us and put their pet rats in my hair. Yeah. In my hair. They're insane. 

Anyway.... it was an awesome week. I love you all so much I can't even explain! 
Make some awesome New Years goals for me!!!

On the way to the home of one of my favorite people

Just another diner in the WVCM!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Squirrel and Rabbit

So last night we got to attend this really cool candlelight service at a Presbyterian church in Buena Vista. They do it every year, and invite our ward to join them. It was held in this tiny little church house---I wish I would have gotten a picture of it! It was so Virginia. It is one of the oldest church houses in this area and everything is made of gorgeous old wood and it was just packed full of people. There were lots of musical numbers mixed with the pastor of the Presbyterian congregation reading scriptures from the Christmas story and Isaiah. There were a few songs where everyone sang together. The music just filled up that tiny little church and it just felt like Christmas! Right before the very last song, Silent Night, we each got a candle and passed the flame from one person to another. Then we sang Silent Night together. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I've had on my mission. I just stood there, next to Sister Pierson and the Lexington Elders, with members of the Lexington Ward that I've come to know and love so deeply, mixed with members of the Presbyterian church. Our singing filled up every inch of that beautiful little church, and I just had one of those moments where I knew I was exactly where I am supposed to be. I wouldn't have missed that moment for the world. How lucky am I that I was called to the West Virginia Charleston Mission, transferred from Ashland to Lexington, so I could be in that little church at that exact moment, and I could feel how deeply God loves me, and how aware he is of me, and that I could share it with these people, especially Sister Pierson, all of whom I've grown to love so much. There is no better place to spend Christmas than Lexington, Virginia.

After the service everyone moved over to a building next to the church where we had food and treats. We got to talk to a less active man, Brother B--- there! We've left notes on his door but never got to actually talk to him. We got chatting with him and he got talking about how he plays the banjo in this old time band! We were sitting next to the Zone Leaders as we talked to him and he was telling us we should come to this civil war ball that his band is playing for. As he's telling us this and we're like, "yeah, that would be sweet," he looks over at the elders (who weren't part of the conversation yet) and he says, "Hey, my band is playing for the ball in January; you guys should take these girls!" We just all laugh and Elder Smith just laughs and is like, "Well, we'll have to see what we can do." Brother B--- is such a funny guy and he had no idea that we're not allowed to date or anything like that. We kept talking to him and somehow it came up that he was into... drumroll please... archery!!!! Finally my strange rendezvous skills are coming into play! We got talking about bows and he was all excited and was telling me how he's part of the Rockbridge Archery Club and has taught classes and does competitions and everything! Then he invites us to come up and shoot with him one evening! It may or may not be against mission rules to shoot archery.... but, it never actually says that in the white handbook.... so we'll see how that goes! But for sure I'll get to go up and see his bows at least! It just made my day to get to make that connection with him that we had laughed about back home... but it really happened! 

Another backwoods event occured on Tuesday of this week. We went out to visit this woman we were referred to by Sister Pierson's aunt. So we go out to visit this lady whose name is
 H----  B---. Yeah, that's really her name! Sweet, right? So I'm already pumped to get to meet her. We drive down these GORGEOUS country roads to her little farm tucked in the hills. (I'm head over hills for Virginia. I want to go to VMI. I LOVE LEXINGTON!!!) We knock on her door and give her the cookies we had brought for her, expecting to just have a quick visit and try and get a return appointment or something, but she invites us in to see her chicken who had gotten broody. They kept her inside under a light and she sat on some eggs that had just hatched! They had put some banty eggs and some americauna eggs under her and so she had a few different kinds of chicks! It was so sweet! And so fun because I could talk chickens with her! So we talked about chickens for a minute then she says, "Well, come on in and meet my kids who are home from college." We go into her kitchen and get to meet her adorable daughter who is our age and her son who just BARELY graduated from VMI! So we chat with them for a while and just really hit it off! Sister Pierson gets to talk about her aunt to them, and it just felt like we were with family! Apparently H--- and her kids felt that way too, because she said, "Why don't ya'll just stay for dinner?" Of course we said yes. They had so many questions about our job as missionaries and what we did and it was so fun to answer them! They were such a fun and funny family. The best part of it all though, was that the VMI boy had gone hunting that morning... squirrel hunting. AND HE COOKED US SQUIRREL!!!! It was one of my mission bucket list items to get fed squirrel, and it was just icing on the cake that a VMI boy, who is a great cook, made it for us! And it was so yummy! It was seriously one of the best things I've eaten on my mission!  We got to watch him cook it, because we were all just chatting around the island in the kitchen and helping get dinner ready, and he definitely had some sweet cooking skills. It was just an awesome night, and I felt like I was with family.

A few nights later we got fed RABBIT by a member family! I might have mentioned them before, they are some of my favorites, the S----------. They have an adorable daughter and the cutest little autistic son. They also have two hound dogs. EVERYONE out here has hunting dogs, even if they don't hunt. It's the land of hounds and hunting dogs.... and dogs with fleas. Pretty much every dog here has fleas. And speaking of dogs..... we got to go out to Collierstown this week and visit a less active member. There's this holler with about 7 houses down in it with people who are all related, and all less active. We call them the M------ clan. I totally forgot to ask the lady we visited if she was related to any M-------- out West.  Wouldn't that be so sweet if we were related? She was telling us great stories about hunting coons with her hound dogs and how her daughter shot a bear this week!!!  There are apparently a lot of bears out here. I love these people! I knew there was a reason I grew up in a family of hunters---even though I sorta hate killing things!

Also out in Collierstown we found a street named Lytle street!!!! What the heck!!!! And apparently there are some Lytle's out in Buena Vista people keep telling me about.

The last two great things from this week are T----- and S----- getting confirmed, and helping do Christmas boxes at the Horse Center in Lexington Saturday morning. We spent all Saturday morning at the Horse Center helping pack boxes of food and presents for people in need in the area! So fun! and the Horse Center was sweet! And T----- and S----- are officially members of the church now!!! They got confirmed Sunday and it was so beautfiul! It was really cool that their son, who is down for the holidays, got to be there for that as well. Seeds are being planted! 

It was such a good week and I can't wait to talk to you all on Christmas! I love you and pray for you every day!

Sister Pierson at the Horse Center