Monday, March 31, 2014

Back to the Land of My Inheritance


Transfers. I am leaving Lexington. Needless to say, there have been lots of tears. BUT, I'm going back to the land of my inheritance! I'm headed to Pikeville, Kentucky to greenie break the companion that Sister Frehner (my insta friend) trained! I'm pumped! And I'll be in Sister Pierson's zone!

Last night I was on the phone with the Buena Vista YSA elders and for some reason there was a guy with them that served in Pikeville. It was his very favorite area, so he was giving me all these tips and names of people to see! I'm so excited! And apparently the sisters there just moved into a new apartment and it's super nice! I'm pumped…. AND heartbroken.......

Honestly, it's feels like leaving home again. Saying goodbye to T----- and S----- pretty much broke my heart. And I'm missing M-----and B----'s baptism by two days. Sister Tripp and I are convinced that we're going to serve together again at the end of our missions because it just seems so unfinished.

The Trippster and I.  Love this girl.

I'm so glad that I had Sister Tripp as a companion before I went into this.  I'll be able to be exactly obedient and bold and just be a much better missionary and leader than I would have been without her. She's incredible. I've learned so much from her!

Elder Proctor's Birthday Sushi
Sister Tripp
Exchanges in Lynchburg
Words just can't describe.  My family has grown.

Monday, March 17, 2014

This is Heaven

It's hard to know how to start this email after just reading that my beautiful sister is now engaged to one of the most incredible guys I've ever met. God has my back though, because today it's pretty snowy so the library was closed... so we had to come email at the church. That was definitely divine intervention because I would have felt so awkward crying as hard as I'm crying right now in the middle of the library!  Brynne and Jake, I just want to tell you how incredibly happy I am for you both. And welcome to the family Jake :)  This week has been incredible. Every week out here is. But this one has been especially incredible.

 I want you to imagine a cabin, way up on the top of a mountain. There is only one long dirt road that will take you there. The cabin faces the west, a big porch hanging over the side of the mountain facing the setting sun. The porch overlooks the most beautiful valley Virginia has to offer. I stood on that porch, looking over that view, as the sun set over my Virginia mountains this week. And I didn't stand there alone. I stood beside a young girl and her mother, who have searched--who came to Virginia searching--for a new life, a better life, and they found that within the gospel. I feel that I am them. I came to Virginia for the same reasons. Because I wanted something better, I wanted to be something better, and I wanted others to have something better as well. And I found something better. I'm still finding it. I know where to look now. That night standing on the porch, watching the sun set, breathing in the deep spring air of those Virginia mountains with people I have grown to love, those moments will be forever seared into my very soul. There's something about this place, about these experiences that I'm having out here. They are so exact. So deliberate. God has a plan for me, and I finally feel that I am living it, because I can feel it. I felt it that night so strong. I stood looking out at the valley, the quiet song of wind chimes set the tone of the sunset. I looked over to watch the chimes as they blew lightly in the spring breeze. Hanging from the middle, was a little metal circle, and cut into that circle. . . . . . . was a butterfly.
God has a plan. He is so aware of us.

We taught a great lesson to M---- and B---- that night. We have had to push M----'s baptismal date back to the 29th, but she is going to make it. She is so amazing. Watching people give up addictions like smoking, with nothing but faith, it's incredible. I don't know how you could ever think that this gospel wasn't true after watching someone use it to give up an addiction that they believe they so desperately need.

 This week we also had a Specialized Training where Lynchburg Zone and Buena Vista Zone (my home zone, although Sister Tripp and I cover Lynchburg as well) all came together for training.  President and Sister Pitt taught, as well as all the zone leaders, and of course, the Sister Training Leader companionship. It was a really great conference.  Everything was focused around the Book of Mormon, and the power of it. There is such power!  Sister Tripp and I have been using it like crazy lately, and I've gained such a testimony. Even just the book itself, without even opening the pages, has such power.
#TheChurchIsTrue  #TheBookIsBlue

Anyway, they did the teaching in rotations, so the Lynchburg Zone Leaders, the Buena Vista Zone Leaders, and  Sister Tripp and I each got put in a different room and we had to teach our 45-minute portion to a small group 4 different times. So I got to teach for 3 solid hours that day. Yay.  All I can say, is that a mission really stretches you. I think I'm the last person on earth that would want to be standing in front of people teaching, but of course, God with his sense of humor, had me doing that very thing for HOURS this week.

My favorite story from this week happened on Saturday. It was a
GORGEOUS day. It hit almost 70 degrees for the first time in months. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, either. We got a call while we were eating at M--- and R---'s (Our deaf investigator. They are having trouble progressing but we still see them a lot. I know how to say a lot of things in sign language now though, which is way sweet! Mostly words like “God” and “Jesus” and “Bible” and “Blessings” and stuff like that. I love them so much!) But anyway, we get a call from our District Leader, Elder Moffett, inviting us to come to a district service project down at a lady in our ward's ranch, Sister H----.

Let me give you a little background on Sister H----. She is INCREDIBLE. She has just been through a REALLY rough divorce. She does real estate and she had a company that she owned with her ex. Well, when they divorced, he took everything. And they had been REALLY well off. She worked her way from having nothing but her girls and her car, to now living on a multi-million dollar property.

Sister H---- gave Sister Tripp and me a little tour of her property,
including her house, the barn, the two guest cottages, and everything,
while the Elders worked on clearing out the stalls in her barn.  (That’s fair, right?) Sister H---- was excited to have sisters over finally because she lives in the Elder's area. First she took us all over to the barn to get the Elders started, and then she smiles at me and Sister Tripp and says, I have something I want to show ya'll. She turns around and climbs up a ladder that leads up to the loft of the barn. I follow behind her until we reach the loft. She keeps the grin on her face and beckons us over to a door on the wall. "Check this out" she said. As she opened that little loft door, it opened up to show the beautiful expanse of Glasgow Valley. I can't forget her smile as she said, "Isn't it gorgeous?" And it was. In fact, It was the most beautiful scene I had ever beheld. I stood there in that loft, with the voices and laughter of the Elders, who have come to be my family, drifting up from below.  The sun was shining over that valley, and I was in heaven.  This mission, and these good people I have been so blessed to know:  This is Heaven. 
Sister H----'s Property

We let the Elders stash a burrito in our fridge while we were gone,
and guess where our pillows ended up?

Fun times at the Food Pantry with B----

Monday, March 10, 2014

Learning to Pray

Teaching Primary

This week started out with a nice 1:30 AM drive to Roanoke for Mission Leaders Conference!!!  We got the joy of waking up that early to go pick up the Vinton Sisters so that they could go with Sister Tripp and the Blacksburg Sisters (Sister Reed is now an STL!) to MLC. I was dropped off in Salem, Virginia to spend the day with the Salem Sisters. I was dropped off at their place at 4:30 in the morning, and then immediately crashed on their extra mattress and slept until 6:30. So I at least got a little rest that night. It was a super fun day just hanging out and working in Salem.

Also this week we had Zone Conference. Our poor Zone Leader, Elder Ostler, puked his guts up (literally he puked like 7 times) the whole night before and he STILL got out and taught for a whole hour. I'm just so in awe of people. Just people. This 20-year-old kid, just spent a whole night as sick as could be, and he got up the next morning to teach another group of 20-year-old kids about missionary work, and this gospel. No one was there to get him up and out the door, no one told him that he had to do that. He just did. Because he's committed. He's knows this work and this gospel is true and he does what he has to. His money is right where his mouth is. My ward mission leader used to say "You gotta put your money where your mouth is" all the time, and I've been thinking about that a lot lately. Commitment and action are pretty much what life is about. You have to live what you learn. Truth is truth, and when you find a piece of truth, you better be ready to live by it. Because living by true principles is the only thing that will bring us real happiness in this life. #PutYourMoneyWhereYourMouthIs

Also, the day of Zone Meeting, Sister Tripp got her West Virginia tooth fixed! I'm not even sure I told you about this, but Sister Tripp has had a chipped front tooth the whole time I've been with her. She chipped it when she was in Huntington, West Virginia. When she showed it to President Pitt at transfers, he said to her, "Sister Tripp, you’ve got to get that fixed, you're going to Virginia!"
#SheFitInInWestVirginia  #ButVirginiansHaveTeeth

We got it fixed by a member in our ward who is a dentist in Buena Vista, so that was kind of fun! We also went on exchanges with the Buena Vista sisters this week after zone meeting. It was weird though, because one of the Rockbridge sisters went home this week. That was kind of a blow, especially for Sister Tripp, because the girl who went home was her MTC companion. Everything that happens, I know happens for a reason, but it's hard to look at situations like that and wonder what could have changed the outcome, and try to not put your own opinion and feelings into it instead of just trusting that it's all in God's hands. So I got to be in Buena Vista in a Tripanionship (A “Trip Ship” as we like to call it.) It was fun. I got to be with Sister Hutchings and Sister Maddox and we just had a blast together. Also, I got to see how Sister Tripp's bravery has rubbed off on me.  We were driving between scheduled appointments, and while we were driving I saw this guy making a bonfire on his front lawn. The other sisters were like, "Ha ha, we should talk to that guy" in joking, but I'm like, "No, seriously. We have to talk to that guy." So I made them pull over and awkwardly get out and talk to him.

Not gonna lie, I really just wanted to stand around that fire, and talk to this good old Virginia boy and look up at the stars and feel at home, but I wouldn't have actually done it if the spirit hadn't been working on me, and I hadn't had Sister Tripp’s awesome example of being brave and talking to everyone. We got to talk to this guy. Turns out he wasn't very interested, but he did accept a Book of Mormon, and ended up really opening up to us. That's the thing about the South though, people are just so open; I love it!  We stood there around his fire for a good while that night, just feeling it's warmth in the cold night air, under the gorgeous Southern stars, with country music coming from his truck. I think it's those kind of moments that God gives to me just to remind me that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. The WVCM, that night, this was made for me. I know I say this all the time, but I truly am where I'm supposed to be, and I am SO happy. This is it. This is the good life. And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

So yesterday we got to teach M----- and B----- with the H---s. We went through the ‘Stop Smoking Workshop’ with M-----, and she is so committed. At the end we talked a lot about prayer.  M----- gets really emotional during our lessons, and as we finish talking about prayer, she looks up at us, tears tolling down her face, and she says, "Well you're gonna have to teach me how to pray first."  I've never heard a sentence as beautiful as that. The sun slanted into the little classroom in the church and lit up M---'s eyes as she said it. I've never felt such sincerity. It made me want to be a missionary forever. This woman, just wanted to know how to pray to her Father in Heaven, and learning how, meant the world to her. How many people are out there that just DON"T KNOW? They just don't know that they have a Father in Heaven who loves them? A Father they can speak to? And who will help them in any way if they only ask? So we taught her how to pray. We explained the simple steps, and we asked her if she would be willing to give the closing prayer. Tears continued to roll down her face as she said, "I can't, I just can't." 

Then something beautiful happened. Sister H--- leaned over and grabbed M----'s hands. "There's no better place to learn than with people who love you. C'mon, I'll say it with you," Sister H---- said in her sweet Southern accent. Everyone closed their eyes, but I couldn't help but peek as I watched these two women pray together, hand in hand, as M---- repeated after Sister H--- one of the most beautiful and simple prayers I have ever heard. We all tried to hide it, but by the end of that prayer, tears were abundant. We can talk to our Father in Heaven.  He does answer our prayers. I know that, because getting to be part of that lesson, was an answer to mine.


Sister K--- gave us goat cheese from their beautiful farm

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Happiness. . . and Ghost Tours

am so happy. Really, truly, deeply happy. And you know what, I'm so glad you can tell people I'm happy and doing well, because  it's completely 100% true.

My email will be short because we had a big storm today and had to email late because we weren't allowed to drive cars for most of the day. We deep cleaned the apartment for literally hours. I don't think there has ever been a cleaner missionary apartment!

This week has been awesome. We set the coolest family ever on date for baptism. So M----- and her daughter B----- have come to church a few times with the H----s, a family in our ward, and so we wanted to teach them.  Well, we finally got an appointment to teach them at the
H----'s home. First let me tell you a little about the H----s. They are as country, and as Southern, as it gets. I can't wait to go to their home again because I HAVE to get pictures. They live in a cabin way up this dirt road, literally on top of a mountain. Sister H---- feeds the deer every night and we got to see them all come out to eat. You walk inside their cabin and it feels like you've gone back a hundred years, but in the best way. They fed us fried chicken and mashed potatoes (so Southern) the night we came, and they somehow just made us feel so at home

I swear I knew Brother H---- in another life, and more than that, I swear he must go to Rendezvous!  I'll take some pictures and do some more explaining next time, but just know that it was probably the highlight of my week, getting to go there. Not only because
during dinner the little girl, B----, turns to me and says, "So what do I need to do to get dunked?" (There isn't a better line for a missionary to hear,) but because it felt so right, it felt like home, and like I was with family. Being all the way across the country from the only home you've ever known, getting even just a taste of that feeling really makes a difference. 

( M----- will have to give up a few things to make their March 22 baptisimal date. If you want someone to pray for.... pray for her. I know she can do it, but it will be so hard. I love her so much already. I wish you could meet her. She's literally like 4 foot 11. Maybe I'll have a picture of her dressed all in white soon :) )

Last p-day we went on a hike!!!! You have no idea how much that made my day!!!  A hike! Virginia is so gorgeous! I can't wait to come back here some day and hike these hills all day! It was gorgeous and I SO needed a little mountain air. I was starting to think I would die
without it! 

Sister Tripp, Elders Moffett, Proctor, Blake, and Ostler, Me

Also last p-day we got to go on a Ghost Tour of Lexington that one of our ward members, J--- H-----, did for us. There is so much history in Lexington! I didn't know this until the tour, but all the sidewalks are done in these special bricks that are called Lexington brick, and it's only in Lexington. That sounds lame now that I'm typing it, but they are way sweet. We also got to see Robert E. Lee's old house and Stonewall Jackson's grave.  Fun fact: the post office in Lexington is also the only post office in the United States that doesn't say "post office" on it.

Lexington Ghost Tour

Stonewall Jackson Cemetery at Night

We are also working with this really awesome 25-year-old girl who owns a horse farm. She's so great. We watched "The Restoration" with her last night and we are really looking forward to what will happen with her.

We got to have dinner with T---- and S---- this week too. Gosh. I can't explain how much I love them.  Scott also taught our gospel principles class this week and he did an amazing job!!!! Gah! They just make me so dang happy!!!! 

I'm so glad I came on my mission!

I Love Lexington!


Elder Blake's Birthday Lunch