Monday, April 28, 2014

Hillbilly Days

Hillbilly days was definitely the highlight of this week. We got to go with the B-------s, an older couple we are teaching who have taken in all the Pikeville missionaries as their new grandchildren. B------ B----- introduced us to everyone and their dog who were there and it was just a blast!

I can't accurately describe Hillbilly days to you in words, because really, no words can describe it!  You're in luck though, because I took tons of pictures! There was moonshine and hillbillies and fried food as far as the eye could see. They close down the main streets in Pikeville and the place is just piled with food and vendor tents. EVERYTHING is fried. I had the glorious opportunity of trying a deep fried oreo there (and I wonder why I'm gaining weight!  #LoveTheSouth #FriedFood #TheMissionAddition ) and I had some of the best freshly squeezed lemonade in the world! All the food there was delicious!

The sweet B-----s also bought us all Hillbilly Days shirts! Mine has a
confederate flag on it. . . . #HillbillyStatus. We got to meet and talk to a ton of new people and get our names out there a little bit and it was really cool! But really, the pictures will have to help explain everything that Hillbilly Days was. Needless to say, I'm definitely coming back here when I'm off the mish for this!

Fried Oreos!

Branch Building 

District Meeting


Monday, April 21, 2014

The Beauty of People

I'm not going to lie... I probably missed home the most this week since Ashland, knowing that you were going to rendezvous. That is the best thing we have ever decided to do. Luckily, pretty much everyone in Kentucky could be a rendezvous person, and that made me feel a little better. I missed being there so much though. I missed being with you guys, missed our rendezvous family, and missed watching Meg freak out every time a gun went off.

I wanted to cry when I heard about  Elder Ostler going home for knee surgery.  It's like hearing that my own brother tore his ACL!  You have no idea how amazing he was as a missionary and as a zone leader! He was doing such amazing things for the Buena Vista zone! I wonder who replaced him? We don't hear any mission news out here in the boonies of Pikeville. 

This week has been pretty cool. When I was working with M----- and B-----, it was so great to watch her stop smoking, but it was also cool because the H---- family was so crucial in that process and they were really a bigger means of support and learning than the missionaries were. That's really the way it should be. But this week, I got to start helping T---- stop smoking. And guess what?  He's doing it!  He hasn't touched a cigarette since Monday!!! And he's been smoking 37 years! I'm so proud of him! Funny story though, the other day we were at his house just doing a quick lesson and checking on how stopping smoking was coming, and I was kinda squinting at my scriptures I guess, and T----'s mom is in the room and she says, "baby, let me get you some glasses." So she goes into the other room, grabs me some reading glasses, and makes me keep them.  People out here are just like that---seriously the nicest people you'll ever meet.

Here's just a list of a few things that have happened lately:
We sang Amazing Grace with the Pikeville Elders at a funeral last Sunday. 
We picked up a muslim as an investigator.
We had a district meeting in Paintsville where we shared testimonies around a camp fire. (It was on Friday. I think that was God's little tender mercy for me because I didn't get to be around a campfire with y'all at rendezvous.)
We played a prank on the elders and gave me a black eye with make-up, and they all thought Sister Tobler punched me. The funny thing was, they literally believed it. 
Helped M----- with S------r's birthday party at a park in Open Fork.
Had an Easter egg hunt at the C------'s
Met a guy who made his own Tarahumara running shoes like the Indians in Born to Run.  He usually runs in New Balance minumus like me! 
Learned to make fried apple pies with the B----'s (they are my new grandparents! B----- L--- is on instagram and facebook and has a baking company! They are so cute! They look like Mrs. And Mr. Claus!!) 
Got to visit the W------- family (who were oringinally taught by President and Sister Pitt! Now all that's left to do is get V------- divorced so she and her new husband can get married and he can be baptized!) They are so good to us and being with them feels like being with our family. V------- picked us some tulips from her yard for Easter before we left their house! They also have a killer pit bull, so we can't get out of our car when we get to their house until they lock him up. They live at the very end of a crazy holler and they don't even have a phone.

Doing service this week I also had an interesting experience. We were at a different church helping pass out food and I had to man the station where the people signed their name and everything to get the food. The second man I helped looked at me as I passed him the pen and paper and told him what to do. He said, "Could you do it for me ma'am? I don't write." I was caught a little off guard. I looked back into his eyes, and I fell in love with him. It just hit me so hard in that moment---the beauty of people. Of being human. I don't really know why, but something about this humble man, his sweet question in his gorgeous southern accent, I just fell in love with everyone in that instant. People are so amazing, and so beautiful. It doesn't matter where you are, what you do, what you CAN'T do, or who your family is. I can't even explain all the emotions I felt in that brief moment, or why I even felt them. But all I know, is God loves that man. And so do I.

I love being here in Pikeville. This place has given me such beautiful experiences and I'm learning so much. I'm so glad I'm on a mission. So glad.  I hope y'all enjoyed Easter. I love you so much and pray for you constantly!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Road Trip to Huntington

Me, Sister Tobler, and our man Lincoln

It's been another wonderful week in Pikeville. 

So the week started out by heading up to Open Fork, you know, the holler where we almost got jumped?  Our appointment fell through, so we spent some time talking with the parents of our young investigator.  We also had a road trip to Huntington for Stake Conference this week.  I got to see Sister Pierson and lots of people from my old ward in Ashland!!!!!! President and Sister Pitt drove a new car down for us and we traded them for our truck because it had too many miles on it.  I think we will get another truck soon though.  Our investigator T---- came to church!  It was a great week, but I will have to write a letter and tell you more because we are out of time!

Service at Sister L-----'s

Monday, April 7, 2014

Two Ends of the Spectrum

What the Transfer Train Feels Like

So it's been quite the week. Between dealing with drunk guys in hollers and being without a vehicle for half the week… we've definitely had some adventure in Pikeville!

The week started out with P-day. The Martin and Prestonburg Elders came up to hang out with us and we ended up going bowling with them. It was great to see Elder Jackson, from the original Lexington family again! That night, something really cool happened. The week before I had met an investigator named E-----. He lives in an old farmhouse, generations old, down in a holler. He's Kentucky to the core. The first lesson I ever taught to him, we were sitting on the front of a tractor the whole time. For this lesson, we got to sit on his front porch swing with him as we read the Book of Mormon. It was dusk, and his front porch looks out across a little stream, his garden, and his field. On the far side of the field, the ground meets the hills that form the little holler where he lives. Up on the side of that hill, sit three gravestones, the resting place of his family. We read the Book of Mormon with E-----, frogs chirping, his farm dog at our feet, and I took a second to look up and take in the scene. For a second, I was back at home, dreaming of what my life would be like as a missionary in the WVCM. This is what I pictured. This has always been in the plans, I guess. I was always meant to be here in Kentucky, at this time. I've always known it I think, even when I didn't know it. That night, sitting there on that porch, I had that old feeling that I can't seem to escape out here, the feeling that I was home, that I was where I was supposed to be.  Even beyond that, I felt that I was back. That I had been here before and I was meant to be here again, now. I'm so lucky that I'm here. I'm so lucky to know what I know.

Also this week, we had an experience that was on the opposite side of the spectrum. I've heard a lot about an investigator, M-----, who lives up this holler they call Open Fork. Finally, on Tuesday, I was going to get to meet her! So we go driving up her holler to her
house (and by house, I mean trailer) and find the door wide open. We yell for her but as we're yelling, we hear a yell from down the hill. We look down to find M----- at her friend R-------'s house waving us down. We head down to R------'s house (again, by house, I mean trailer) and meet the one and only M----- D------. She tells me her story, and from her lips, I get to hear one of the most beautiful testimonies in the world. We talk on the porch, the Kentucky breeze in our hair, the smell of spring on its way. 

We talk until the phone rings inside, and R------ brings it out. It turns out it was M------'s boyfriend that she had kicked out the night before.  She kicked him out because she wants to live the law of chastity and be baptized. Well, the night before had gotten a little violent, and her boyfriend was mad, and he told her that he was coming to get his stuff in five minutes. 
M----- hung up the phone and she asked us, "Will you girls stay until he comes?" So of course, we did. We wait until two cars full of drunk men come pulling up to M----'s trailer. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty scared, and I was praying pretty hard. But God had our back as always, and it turned out that it was really good we were there. When they were all yelling, M------ said, "you boys can't use that language in front of my girls----they're good christians." We kind of helped keep things calmed down and helped M------ stay calm as well.

More about this week------
*  We haven't had a truck due to it getting a scratch fixed, so we've been walking and knocking doors like crazy.  
*  Saturday we watched conference at the branch building and our investigators, the B-----s, came!!! They also took us and the Pikeville Elders to lunch, which was a blast. 
*  Sunday we spent at the C-------‘s watching conference. The C------s take such good care of us! 
*  We were tracting this week and this kid on his bike followed us and told us which houses had mean people, and who wasn't home, and what not. Super funny. His name was C----- :)    *  Pretty much every time we tract, a dog follows us. 
*  T----, who is on date for baptism at he end of this month, took us out to Texas
Roadhouse to eat.  He is the sweetest man.

My new companion, Sister Tobler, and the Elders at an Easter activity in the branch
Saying goodbye to Elder Moffet.  He's my bro.  And we look like siblings!
Elder Confer's handiwork in my book
More from Elder Confer.  We had a lot of traveling time on our hands. . .
Elder Confer sent me this picture of the old Buena Vista family
Sometimes on a mission, you just can't contain the happiness!