Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday December 17, 2013

Family!

Not sure exactly what time we'll be getting in contact with you guys, but we'll finalize our plans before next Monday, and I'll let you know in my email. It'll be in the afternoon sometime ish, probably. We're going to a member's house where we can both skype at the same time, but there's also a lot of members with apple technology, so maybe we can FaceTime instead? Also word on the street is that President has avoided placing an actual limit on the length of our calls, so long as they aren't "excessive." Obviously I don't want to take up too much of your Christmas (I'll likely run out of stories right quick like), but at least we don't have to stress out about time.
Amanda has back problems, and goes to Louisiana for treatment, which coupled with the fact that her family is there, equals we haven't been able to teach her since last email. Also no real news for R+L, we called them last Wednesday, and he said they wanted us to come over for dinner/ a Q&A, but our member dinner appointment that night turned out to be uncancellable. It was a wealthy older couple that was "quite looking forward to us coming by," and laid on the guilt quite thick when we tried to reschedule. Lame sauce. Instead R was thinking they could feed us on Monday, and he texted us two of his questions so that we could study them out. One was flat out false doctrine, which makes our life easy, the other involved a quotation from the teachings of Joseph Smith and D+C 130:22. That was a very legitimate question. It would appear that he has been researching us quite in depth, which is good and bad. Good, because it showed that he really was interested; bad-ish, because he was delving into deep doctrine before gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon first. It's really only bad-ish because I have a bunch of scriptures relating to his question to share with him, but he never got back to us about dinner so they have remained un-shared. I don't like leaving people with unanswered questions, so hopefully they let us come by again.

The German ladies are doing a lot better; T just got a job, and the ward helped out with their rent, and food. They are ridiculously grateful, and even came and helped clean the church with us yesterday for our day of service. We're going to start the lessons back up with them this week, and probably set them with another date for baptism sometime in January.

I don't think I've told y'all about F yet, but she's super great. My second week in Mississippi there was a baptism in Oak Grove for R2, who was the Zone Leader's investigator and F's ex-husband. R2 moved to Oloh (little town outside of Oak Grove) to be closer to their kids, and the Elders first met him while he was at work at a member's Christmas tree farm (no joke). He only investigated the church for like a month before joining, and then F started investigating because she was so impressed with the changes she saw in R2. The Sister Training Leaders (that's right, not only do the zone leaders serve in my ward, but so do the STLs. It's the only way that President could keep me in line ;) were teaching her when I got here, but about two weeks ago they passed her off to us, because they travel so much, and she needs more consistent teaching. We had the best lesson with her yesterday, and she's praying about getting baptized at the beginning of January. Their nine year old son also wants to be baptized, so at some point we're going to start teaching him too.

It's been great having more promising people to focus on, but all the people we teach are pretty far away, and we are seriously hurting for miles. ALSO on Sunday all six of the Oak Grove missionaries sat down for an "Area Book Correlation Meeting," where we discussed what to do about a few people being taught in other people's areas/ arranging new boundaries. The STL's live with us (did I ever mention that?), and their area used to be the further out parts of Oak Grove including Sumarall. They determined that their area needed to be worked more, so we basically swapped places. Kinda. I had the idea to give them the area surrounding our apartment, so that they could be a bike area. Now when sisters come for exchanges with them, they can be trained on bikes, which would be really beneficial. They are going to be full time finders in their area, and we'll be the follow-up visiters/ teachers. It's a little weird, but they deemed us "ghosts" for their area. Elders gave us a small chunk of their area as well. Hopefully all this will equal for a busy transfer ahead of me! (speaking of which, today is transfers, and as expected Sister Mongie and I are staying together for Christmas :)
As a fun alternative to normal tracting, now we can go caroling. Ideally we'd sing a song about Christ, then give the family a Book of Mormon as "our Christmas gift: a book that helps you draw closer to Christ." On Sunday we went out with our roommate-STLs to give it a shot, but accidentally went out too early. Talk about awkward.  We discovered that caroling-tracting is best done in the dark, as opposed to normal tracting which is best done in the light (it's weird, but people want to talk about Jesus and his restored church even less in the dark then in the light. Ridiculous). To our rescue came a herd of neighborhood boys that decided they wanted to tag along for the ride. Of course they had a small repertoire of Christmas songs, so we ended up singing Rudolph and Jingle Bells at doors, but it was a hoot. They lead us around to specific houses, and were really sad when we had to leave for our dinner appointment despite the frigidly cold weather. It was the most unexpectedly hilarious caroling experience ever.

Swants sound so cool! Can I have two pair? One ridiculously hideous-sauce one for around the apartment, and one tame pair (grey?) to keep me warm while tracting? They sound oh so fabulous. Do they reach all the way to your ankles--cause I've kinda got long legs... While I'm being outlandishly needy in the Swants category, could you possibly sent a pair for Sister Mongie too? Her mom sent her a Christmas package, and while we aren't allowed to open it yet, we're pretty sure she sent me a present too, so we could swap family gifts :) As for other package requests I'd be down for anything. I got sick of my wardrobe after week two of mission life, so really anything that allows me to mix it up, makes me happy. Also someone sent Sister Cottrell (one of my STL roommates), a really cute picture book version of the Plan of Happiness that could be fun. I'm pretty sure they sell it at Deseret Book, it's called "The Great Plan of Happiness" by David Bowman. I'm basically out of eye-makeup remover, so as for practical things a bottle of that, and mascara is always handy. Thanks so much for everything though :) I picked up a cute little Mississippi gift for y'all today, so hopefully that gets there lickedy split like.

Love you all oodles and boodles!
Sister Markle

P.S. Tell Katie good luck on her paper, and tell CC to stop being such a reverse version of ladies-man (mans-lady, not as catchy, I know).

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dear Family,
It keeps going from t-shirt weather to ridiculously cold here. I've decided that humidity is the worst thing ever invented--it turns heat into hotter-than-hades-melty-death, and it turns cold into frigid-death-glacier-chilly-sauce. Those are real meteorological terms. Look them up. 

We got a double-dose of zone conference; on Tuesday we had the normal one where we stayed in Hattiesburg, and then on Saturday we went all the way down to Gulfport to be instructed by Elder Zwick of the Seventy. Fun fact, Elder Zwick is actually President McDonough's cousin. Say whaaaat. He didn't talk about very specific things to work on besides member missionary work, but he did talk a lot about sanctifying ourselves. He said that we can triple our baptisms in the next year, and that we should each be getting an iPad mini by May-ish. Turns out the South won't be TOO behind the times.

Our dear German ladies (plus son, and neighbor), have been unteachable the past couple weeks. Heaps of trials, so even when we stop by to check on them, they are too stressed to really get much out of even mini lessons. The bishop told us to have them come in for a meeting with him, so if they decide to do that, then maybe things will start looking up. They keep telling us to not give up on them, so we won't, there's just not much we can do right now.

We started teaching a little family this week, and we're really excited about them. Their names are Amanda and B, and they have a six-ish year old. Amanda's main concern is knowing whether God still loves her despite all the trials she's going through, and even though we've only taught her twice, she's really excited about learning more. B works offshore (21 days off, 21 days on), so he's leaving this week--not empty handed though, we made sure he has a nice new copy of the Book of Mormon to keep him company.

Get prepared for the craziest story of the week. Are your ready? Alright. If you say so.

There are a lot of pieces to this story, but I'll try to give you the condensed account (and fail miserably as always). On Friday during studies, Sister Mongie and I decided to start going over the scripture references our mission president wants us to memorize for each lesson. After weekly planning we went to the doctor's for Sister Mongie's back. While there I pulled out a pass-along copy of the Book of Mormon, and opened up to where I had left off from personal study (Alma 32). I got the idea that I should start marking favorite verses, underlining some good things, and that I should write my testimony in the front. All pretty standard stuff for some missionaries, but I haven't marked a Book of Mormon in forever, and the last time I did it was for someone specific. I have never written my testimony in the front of a Book of Mormon (bad girl, I know), but I started doing it anyway because I had the thought that this was going to someone important. 

Fast forward to about 6:00 that night. The guy we were trying to follow-up with wasn't home so when we got in the car Sister Mongie said, "Right, or left?" which signaled that we were going to start tracting. We were in our super rich area, and it was cold and rainy. I said left, and then in my mind remembered this little culdesac that was coming up quick on the next left. I told her left again, and we pulled over to start. First house, nice Methodist lady. Not interested. Second house, no answer. Assumed they weren't interested. Third house, lady got really upset with us for making her get out of bed (she just had surgery). Door slam. Not interested. We were both feeling pretty guilty about upsetting the lady behind door number 3, so we weren't feeling the most enthusiastic while knocking door number 4. That was about to change. 

A young man opened the door, and before we were able to say anything he asked us how we were doing, and invited us in to get warm. His cute wife appeared, and he asked us if we needed anything to eat or drink. We were pretty confused. We introduced ourselves, they introduced themselves (R+L), and he cleared off his dining room table, and told us to sit down. R then told us to give him our spiel; tell him what we believe, and why we're different from the rest of Christianity. Best restoration lesson ever. R asked really really good questions, and would repeat back to us what we were teaching him in his own words to make sure he was understanding everything. He knows the bible really well, so when we gave him the pamphlet at the start of the lesson he flipped open to a random page, saw the words "Melchizedek Priesthood" and "Aaronic Priesthood," and then quizzed us on who both those men. When we got up to the sacred grove he stopped us, and asked, "So is this where the squirrel comes in?" We gave him really puzzled looks, and he said he was sure there something about a squirrel. Evidently there are some weird rumors going around about Mormons and squirrels. That was really funny. Back on topic. He committed himself to reading and praying about the Book of Mormon, and when we tried suggesting a chapter for him to read, he told us that we would read whichever one we thought was especially good, but that he planned on reading the whole thing. He was really enthused by how small it seemed until he found out there are over 500 pages, then he back tracked and said he would read as much as he could. Basically they are the cutest little family (I didn't mention the super cute 2-ish year old son), and when we left I kept questioning whether they were members pranking us or not. It was just too perfect. Our plans had changed at least three times that day but in the end everything came together; you can bet your bottom dollar that we made good use of the scriptures we had memorized that morning, and that that Book of Mormon of mine went to someone really important.

Oak Grove's supply of miracles doesn't seem to be exhausted yet, so keep up the prayers and we'll see what God has in store for us next ;)

Love you all!
Sister Markle

P.S. Tell CC congrats/ happy birthday/ check is in the mail. Scratch out that last part.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Dear Family,

We got roped into cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Ridiculous. In our apartment complex there is this little 82 year old lady named Brandy that the sisters met while tracting one day. Long story short, Sister Parkinson had been taking art lessons from her every P-day, and a few weeks back Brandy proposed a crazy idea. She had been given a turkey, and really wanted to make a nice Thanksgiving dinner for those who needed it. There were only two problems: one, she didn't know anyone needy, and two, she is 82 and physically incapable of cooking the whole dinner herself. Sister Parkinson agreed to the challenge, Brandy got super excited, and so even though Sister Parkinson left on Sunday, Sister Mongie and I still had to fulfill our obligation. We saved most of our P-Day time until Tuesday so we could help pre-make a bunch of the food, and then Tuesday evening we held our feast. We invited a bunch of investigators, recent converts, less-actives, and fellowshippers, and while they couldn't all make it, we still had about 18 people there. It was kind of stressful, because we didn't think there was going to be enough food even with some ward members bringing some too. Last minute we bought two roast chickens, a gigantic can of baked beans, and a loaf of french bread-- all of which ended up completely unnecessary. It was one of those experiences that equals good memories, but will never ever ever be duplicated, because it was exhausting.
For the actual day of Thanksgiving we ended up having two dinner invitations, but they conflicted so we picked the one where we were the only missionaries invited so we could spread the love ;) All six missionaries were invited to eat with the Trussell clan which is a large family that makes up a lot of the ward. The dinner that we attended was with a really wealthy family in our area (more like "families" but they're all related so...). The dinner was held at one of the children's "camps" in Columbia AKA really nice cabin-y place beside their very own man-made lake. Whew. Essentially between the Thanksgiving dinner we threw, and the one we attended, we were at both ends of the social spectrum.

Yesterday our ward had this missionary fireside on the life of Christ (from birth to resurrection then "Living Christ" which was kind of the pump-up, "go and do" part) as a way to start off the Christmas season with the right perspective. Our ward mission leader Brother Arroyo makes commercials, so for the fireside he put together this big production. There were a bunch of clips from the Bible videos that the church puts out, with a missionary in-between each clip kind of summarizing the story-line/ setting the scene. I was on the section "Life of Christ" (right after birth up until before the Garden) so I had to give like a three minute talk. Rest-assured, I actually filled my time, and did not speak 90 miles an hour. There were also like four musical numbers sprinkled throughout the program too; my favorite was one of Brother Arroyo's non-member friends singing "Mary Did You Know" right after we watched Jesus's death, and before the resurrection. She hit notes I don't think have ever been hit within an LDS church :) Overall it was really fun, and we even had our investigator Susan come, and it seemed like she enjoyed it.

I don't think I ever really told you all about my new companion, but Sister Mongie is from Provo Utah, and used to run cross country with Mike. She was an STL for a while, but had to stop due to back problems. Last transfer she was moved to Oak Grove so she could see the doctors here, and she still has to be careful, but she says as long as she doesn't go running, or bend down too much then her back is fine now. Eventually she'll become an STL again, but as of right now they're planning on keeping us together for another transfer. She is ridiculously nice, and super cool, so obviously we get along great ;) hahaha well maybe I don't have the ridiculously nice part... or the cool part... but we still get along great :)

Yay for Katie doing missionary work still! Yay for Kami's contacts! Yay for CC's pin ceremony! Good work family! As far as a Christmas list I'm still kind of oogling the baby sized new edition quads... other than that I'd really have to think on it.

Love you family!

-Sister Markle

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday, November 25 2013

Dear Family,
My week as an Oak Grove missionary has been interesting to say the least. First off, we forcibly translated my companion. Intense. When it's a missionary's last transfer their companion "kills them" meaning that they went home, and from then on you refer to them as dead. My whole mission life has been around dying missionaries; my first two transfers involved killing zone leaders, third transfer meant a dead district leader, and then my fourth transfer another zone leader died. This is Sister Parkinson's last transfer, but due to health she left yesterday to finish out the next three weeks working in the office. I interpret this to mean that she was translated. She's a genius, and an avid fan of senior couples, so she was excited to go off, and fix all the problems that the senior couples don't even know exist yet. She's going to rock it.

No real updates as to our dear German ladies; one of them is married to a long haul truck driver who rolled back in town this week, and isn't too keen on happiness, so we haven't been able to visit. Also two of them were sick, so this week their health should be better, and the husband should be gone, which will mean we can actually teach them more! Yay!

Just got wind of some sad news from my Purvis companions. T dropped them this morning. Evidently the Salt Lake City missionaries seriously offended him, and so even though he has nothing wrong with my companions/ wants to still keep in contact, he won't continue investigating the church right now. I am most put out about this. Earlier this week I was studying the Old Testament student manual, and I was pretty impressed with it's stricture against "steadying the ark." It was a commentary on 2 Samuel 6 in which Uzzah gets struck down (offed) by God for reaching out and touching the ark of the covenant, because he was afraid it would fall. The manual said that we shouldn't presume to "save God and His kingdom through our own efforts"--that good intentions aside, we need to have faith and not pridefully/casually approach that which should only be approached under the strictest of conditions. Essentially we need to be obedient even when we feel like by bending the rules we are helping. I was all like, "Whew. That's deep stuff." It's really hard to distinguish between ark-steadier tendencies, and forward thinking that will lead to good, which is probably why the scriptures suggest being meek and lowly of heart, as that's really the safer route to take. "Look down, look down, don't look them in the eye" and all, if you want to take a Les Miserables route to it. Stuff to ponder about. ANYWAYS the Salt Lake City missionaries were steadying the ark by not discontinuing contact with T when they were supposed to, and then not discontinuing contact when their supervisor told them to (after my comps called the office to try to find out what was being taught to T so we could correlate), and because they decided that they knew what was best (they even had a lesson over the phone last week in which they connected the call with a Baptist convert from Georgia. Basically they were getting T fellowshippers, without actually fellowshipping him into the local church) they went too far, and now he's gone. Take away lesson? Don't steady the ark.

We are going to have a huge Thanksgiving dinner over at the Trussell compound (their family makes up a lot of the ward) with all the missionaries on Thursday, but on Wednesday we are having a Thanksgiving dinner with all of our investigators/ other random people, because this old lady who lives in our apartment complex has a giant turkey, and wants our help fixing dinner/ providing people to share it with. It's taking a lot of coordinating, but it's going to be awesome.

I have found my favorite store ever here. It's called Dirt Cheap. Basically it's a DI for new clothes that stores don't want. Love it. Last week I went with Purvis companions to get warm clothes, and then today Sister Mongie wanted to go so I went again. I'm obsessed. I should be good on warm clothes now, although if you wanted to send me my brown boots (the ones with the buckles, I'd rather have my red boots, but I'm afraid they would die), my tan old navy coat lined in yellow, possibly a random warm looking cardigan, I would be much obliged. Tell Grandma thanks so much for me!

Love you all, 
Sister Markle

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday November 19, 2013

Family! Hello again!

So yesterday we had interviews with our mission president, and while we were chatting about my goals and such President McDonough asked if he could derail our conversation for a moment to go on a quick tangent. I was all like, "Sure?" and then he was all like, "We're going to move you to Oak Grove," and I was all like, "Oh. Okay. Ya, sure." So ya. I'm being moved to Oak Grove for the rest of the transfer to be companions with Sister Mongee and Sister Parkinson. Why might you ask? Well, President decided that Sister Mongee has been a caretaker for the first ten months of her mission, and she deserves a little break. This is Sister Parkinson's last transfer and she really wants to finish strong, but with her health still kind of questionable, he thinks it would be best to move me there, in case she can't work some days. Let's just say this was not the tangent I was expecting :) haha it'll be great though, they are both super amazing missionaries, so I'm going to learn a lot!

New address is:

147 98 Place Blvd.
Apt ---
Hattiesburg, MS 39402

Love,
Sister Markle

Monday November 18, 2013

Family!

Thank you so much for my birthday tube of awesomeness! It was awesomeness! The package came on Thursday, so of course I couldn't wait, and opened it as soon as I got my paws on the thing. The can-o-cakes were so cool, and tasted really good (I figured they would taste like can, but was pleasantly surprised to find that they did not in fact taste like can).

A sister in my district has been sick with bronchitis, and this last week the zone leaders figured an exchange needed to happen so the sister's area could get worked for the first time in a couple weeks. I volunteered as tribute. I swapped places with her Tuesday evening, but then Wednesday they decided to just steal me entirely, and the sick sister would spend her days with kind-hearted members as we worked. They thought we might go all the way until today, but sick sister got feeling better Friday, so I was returned Friday night. My time as an Oak Grove sister was very well spent. Miracles happened my dear family, miracles. Here are three:

Miracle numero uno: Oak Grove is millionaire country, and we were tracting these ridiculously nice homes when what do you know, we find ourselves an elect person. He is friends with a ton of the Oak Grove ward members, has been shown the restoration movie, understands the role of the Book of Mormon, and defends our faith to anyone and everyone with gusto. He asked questions about why marriage is so different for Mormons, and we talked about the eternal perspective. He was thoroughly impressed by our maturity and trust in the Lord. He mighta teared up when he was talking about our religion. Basically he's a Mormon who just hasn't realized it yet, so we committed him to the Book of Mormon challenge (Moroni 10:3-5 aka read and pray), and the sisters are going to work through his friends to nudge him along. Future bishop, end of story.

Miracle numero dos: The most classic of classic missionary moments. We were driving down this road when I see a women get out of a car and enter her home. I got the feeling we needed to go talk to her. I brushed it off, as just feeling like I needed to "talk with everyone" as PMG suggests, and not that we needed to talk to her in particular. She wouldn't leave my head. I discreetly asked my temporary companion Sister Mongee if they had tracted that street before, thinking we could tract, and then give the lady a try just because. Mongee said that not only had they tracted there before, but that they felt like that place had been heavily tracted by missionaries; it was near strong members in the church, and the people they talked with were vehemently not interested or had signs on their doors directed towards missionaries leaving them alone. Talk about smack down in prompting town. I then kinda mumbled something about "oh... I was just thinking we should try that lady back there..." to which Mongee immediately flipped a U-turn, and said she had thought the same thing. 
The woman opened the door a crack, and asked what we wanted, so I told her we were missionaries with a message about Christ to share with her. She said give her a minute, closed her door, and we waited most patiently for like five minutes as she put her dog up, and got dressed again. We really only had about ten minutes until we needed to leave to meet up with a member to give some investigators a church tour. We talked with the lady (heretofore to be known as Susan) about her adult children, and the headache she had been having. It was kind of awkward. I felt like we needed to dig for concerns, so I repeated that we were representatives of Christ, and were there to help her, so did she have any questions for God, or things she was struggling with. Susan looked at me blankly, and said she was fine. Dang. Mongee then related our little story of feeling like we needed to talk to her for some reason, and turning our car around. Susan was impressed, but was still giving us nothing. Cue movie moment where we are at the right place at the exact right time. 
The phone rings. Susan answers. It is her estranged, non-maternal inclined mother, calling to tell Susan that her grandmother (the woman who actually raised her) isn't doing very well, and was being moved to the hospital. When she finished the call, Susan explained to us that when I asked what she was struggling with she had thought of her grandmother. This past year Susan has been struggling with depression as her grandmother's health declined. She thanked us for coming because now that her grandmother isn't in her home anymore, she was wondering who she'd have to talk with. We assured her of God's mindfulness of her pain, his love for her, and that we would come plenty of times to continue to help her come closer to him. We gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon, and the sisters said that their return appointment on Saturday went super well. So cool.

Miracle numero tres: Tuesday night we went to follow up with these cool German ladies, M+T, that they had tracted into over two weeks previous. We talked about horses forever, and then compared their role as horse trainers to prophets. Looking to a prophet's fruits to know if he is a false prophet or a true one, was like looking to the results of horse shows to see if a trainer was actually a good trainer despite seeming like one. It was weird, but good. They had been reading from the Book of Mormon, but were distrustful of religions in general due to all the hypocrisy they saw.  
Next day, we showed them a few clips of old talks by President Uchtdorf, and assured them that our church was about living what you believed everyday, not just sunday. T committed to coming to church on Sunday, M was still iffy. She doesn't like large crowds, and was worried about her son L, because he has ADHD (everytime we came over he was playing loud video games in the other room). She called him out to tell him they were thinking about going to church. He readily agreed. M was surprised to say the least. We set up a church tour for all of them the next day. The member we brought with us for the church tour has a crazy story of her own. Basically she was an investigator, but it turned out she had already been baptized, and had forgot the whole experience due to a tragedy, so even though she is a recently re-activated member, she is more like a recent convert. 
The church tour was by all standards a hot mess. They talked about everything from court cases, to racism, to stabbings, etc. Ya. It was loco crazy, but we were able to have a spiritual moment in the chapel reading the sacrament prayers (this was my divergence from stabbing stories), and the whole thing was a success. M was excited to come to church too. Now to the best part. 
The next day was my birthday. I prayed for birthday miracles, and boy did God come through. The day had gone really well, and for dinner we met up with my real companions so we could eat at a cool member's home where they were going to let me burn a shirt (tradition for sisters when they hit six months). The comps gave me two letters that Katie had sent, so I was reading them in the car as we drove back to meet up with the other sisters. In one of her letters Katie mentioned how she really wanted an investigator to commit to baptism on her birthday, but that instead they got a wishy-washy answer and she had to content herself with the fact that it wasn't a definite no. I thought nothing of it, because the day was almost over, and nobody was going to commit. Oh ye of little faith. Mongee, and I went to our dear friends the German ladies, where they gave me a birthday present, and sang "Happy Birthday." Their neighbor-friend was also there (she was there when the sisters initially tracted into them, but hadn't been a part of any of our subsequent teaching visits). We had decided to watch the Restoration movie with them, because we didn't think they understood it very well from when we talked about it. KA-BLAM-O Spirit time, goose-bumps all around. Everyone committed to baptism. All four of them. T even committed to a specific date in December, because it was the day the love of her life died, and she wanted it to be a day of new beginnings. She told us about this really cool experience she had had with the Book of Mormon (Mongee and I sat dumbfounded as we had the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis related to us, and then likened to herself--which we had never ever talked about with them before). 

Basically it was the best birthday ever, and I am convinced that miracles are for real.

Love,
Sister Markle

P.S. T turned out to not be fake! Yay! We met with him three times last week, and he came to church Sunday. He is a talker. Currently he is at war with himself, and really wants to believe but "can't force himself to believe something that he doesn't understand." We try to teach, but not much teaching is achieved on account of the fact he talks a lot. Sometimes he even calls to talk a lot some more. Last night on the phone I tried to really nicely tell him that he talks too much, and that if we are going to help him understand he's going to need to share the air space. He's at a fragile place in his life right now, so I felt really bad saying it, but it needed to be said because you can't teach someone if you never teach them (make sense?). He works two jobs so we won't be able to meet with him until Thursday evening, at which point we will go through the whole first lesson finally, and show him how it is all founded in the scriptures. T's trying to find out if the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and asks us to pray for him, so y'all are welcome to do so as well :) 

Monday, November 11, 2013

FAMILIA,

From the sounds of it I am getting the most ridiculously terrific birthday package, and I'm super ridiculously excited. Good work family, good work. Also you'll have to tell Katie that someone in my new ward served in her mission, and wants me to find out all the areas she served in. Also my new ward totally feels like a Utah ward. So weird.

Skirts and bikes should never be friends. I see a bad breakup looming in their future. I'm keeping a running total of all the things that I've eaten while riding my bike; so far it's just pixie sticks, Nerds, and a granola bar. Next up I need to eat an entire meal, and maybe shove a bag of popcorn in my basket. With it getting dark at like 5:30, we have Sister Davis and West's two hours of additional study (language/training) at night after dinner, because biking in the dark when the roads don't have a shoulder is no bueno. My new companions are super great though, I'd send some pictures but we all randomly forgot to take any this week so it'll have to wait. Be excited for a fantastic footie pajama shot next week. I should never be allowed into Target, that is all.

We couldn't meet with any of our investigators this week, so it's been mostly tracting, which I still feel kinda meh towards; I feel the Spirit much more during legit lessons, so I'm in withdrawals. Plus they have like maybe five returning members in our area to work with, which is super weird because I'm used to having like a million. The work is so different everywhere you go, even within your own mission. It's probably more dramatic in my mission, due to the fact that my mission is so large, but still...

We got this referral the other day from our Zone Leaders, and it looks like it's going to be a fun one. This man contacted their bishop saying he wanted to meet with the missionaries, but he and his wife have this "no one besides themselves enter their home, no exceptions" rule, so he would like to meet us in a member's home. We gave him a call yesterday, and it turns out he is Southern through and through. He can talk nonstop. Apparently he's been in contact with two sister missionaries in Salt Lake City, and they got him the local bishop's number. From the sounds of it, he talks to the sisters fairly frequently, so that's going to be interesting if he has two sets of missionaries teaching him. He used to be a Baptist preacher, so it's probably for the best ;) he left the ministry to find a church where the love is, and has a huge respect for our church, but he then went on to tell Sister Davis (they had quite the long phone call--can't call it a conversation when it's all one sided) that we're going to have a hard time convincing him, and yet he's going to all this trouble to meet with not just one set of missionaries, but two. He seems really strange so naturally I'm stoked. We're actually meeting him in about an hour, so I'll have to keep y'all posted.
 
Oh ya except in the back of my mind I'm still wondering if we are getting punk-ed. It happens. Last transfer it happened. Our district leader devised this elaborate hoax, where we got a phone call from some sisters saying that one of their investigators was transferring into our area, so we should expect a call from him, because he was super legit. I payed no mind, because people never call (I know, I know, faith and all, but sometimes the truth is lame). He called, and set up a meeting with us at Cici's. There was no meeting at Cici's. It was super funny, a major let down, but super funny. I'm really just hoping this isn't another Anthony Yates scenario, but we'll see ;)

Love you all, have a great week!
Sister Markle


Friday, November 8, 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Family,

I GOT TRANSFERRED TO PERVIS MISSISSIPPI!!!!! Crazy stuff. Still weird. Don't know when it'll feel normal. Both my companions are visa waiters for Brazil; Sister Davis came into the field at the same time as me (she served in Jackson, and as been serving in Pervis), and Sister West just got here, so we're going to be training her. Cool stuff. Sister West is actually from Draper, Utah and totally knows Sophie. Say whaaaaat?
We are a car share area, so every other week we will be hitting the bikes. We live two miles outside our area, and Sister Davis says we usually bike between 5-18 miles a day. I am about to become a very buff lady. We have now reached the extent of my knowledge of my new area.
It was very weird to leave Wake Village, and really hard to say goodbye to all the people that I love there. Felt like it was time to leave, but still. 

New address is:
-- Shadow Ridge Dr (Apt Behind Hse)
Hattiesburg, MS

Yay for Birthday! :) I'll have to ponder it some more, but off the top of my head I know that I'd love some more CTR rings to pass out, and a Conference Ensign wouldn't be too bad either. I've been debating whether I want a small quad set of the new scriptures since I'll be biking so much more now, but I'm still on the fence since the set I brought were brand spanking new. What do you think? Also I don't really have a winter wardrobe... so if you could maybe send some more of my cardigans and my coat, I would be ridiculously happy. Also warm, which is good :)

Still kinda weirded out that I've moved, so I don't have any good stories to tell this week. Next week for suresies. I love you family!!!

Sincerely,
Mississippi Markle

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

 Familia,

So last week was another classic case of, "I read through all my emails first, then wind up responding to them in a disorganized way, usually resulting in emailing home last, when I have like five minutes left, thus typing like a madwoman, and sending off very little by means of actual information or commentary on received emails." Yup. I am bad at budgeting time. I did in fact receive your email, but as aforementioned did not comment on anything because I was short on time. Also, the most exciting things to comment on were sworn to secrecy, so there's that. As far as Halloween costumes, we figured for actual Halloween we'd do something blasé like dress like twins, but then for the ward Halloween party we ended up getting a little carried away... Mind you, we had not yet receive the email from the president saying that we were not to dress up in any way for the ward parties, so I figure we sinned in ignorance? Ya. We even wore all of our normal missionary clothes, alls we did was paint our faces to look like zombies... It was cool. I'll send pictures when we've passed the appropriate amount of "sorrow for my actions" time.

It's so fun teaching H, she is seriously the sweetest 12 year old. It's super easy to forget how young she is, because she looks older, and always has really good questions. She's a smart cookie, that H. This week we taught her the Plan of Salvation, and she asked why so many bad things happened if God just wanted us to be happy. We talked about agency, and why we need opposition in all things. She had this "light bulb moment" look on her face. She describes the Spirit as that "warm cozy feeling" which I think is adorable. Her momma just needs to start taking her to church now. True story.

The power went out at the library in the middle of my email time, so we are finishing at Best Buy real quick. Lame sauce. I got your email though, and really appreciated the sister missionary story, yay for helping the work! Go mommy! :) I love you all so much, have a great Halloween!

-Sister Markle

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hola Familia!
It's really cool to see the difference in how I teach lessons from the beginning of the mission to now; before we were very conscious of the lesson we were teaching, employed visuals, and tried to cover the material. Now it's not so simple. I feel the Spirit much more during lessons, and am more focused on the individual, than the material we had planned to cover. It means that teaching records look more interesting, but people are taught more to their needs. The coolest moments for me are the analogies that pop into my head during a lesson, they help me recognize that I am teaching by the Spirit. I love similes, and I think the Spirit does too, after all the scriptures are filled with parables and such.
Two recent examples:
-During our lesson with H this week we were reviewing prophets and leading up to watching the Restoration movie with her. In the middle of talking about their role, I got the idea to compare them to band directors. Each of us is capable of beautiful music, but through the help of the band we can work together. We have the sheet music (scriptures), but with someone to lead us, we can reach our full potential. The apostasy was compared to a story she told us about people goofing off during class. It was all totally unplanned, and really cool
-During gospel principles this week we were talking about tithing. An analogy popped into my head "Imagine your mom spent a ton of time making you an amazing cake for your birthday (bless her heart). Would you eat the entire cake in front of her, or would you give her back a slice to eat with you? Sure the cake is technically yours at this point, but the classy thing to do is share. The Lord gives you all things, and as a sign of gratitude we give a small portion back. We call it tithing."
Basically the Spirit is the coolest. End of story.
Thank you so much for the package, I love you all and hope life is great!
-Sister Markle

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dear Family,
Last Tuesday I hit my 5 month mark, holy guacamole where has the time gone! The end of this transfer will mark 6 months, so it's for sure that I spent at least 1/3 of my mission in Texas. Of all the states in my mission, I never would have guessed it. It's a good place to be.
I sent you guys some pictures from Saturday; we had interviews with the President which always equals for some exciting times. Our exciting times came from the fact that when we walked out of our apartment that morning we found ourselves a new Halloween decoration. AKA a gigantic spider sitting pretty in her intricate web. There might've been some screams, and a call to maintenance. Sister Borja told us that it was nothing compared to the spiders in Paraguay, this one was bigger than a quarter, but she held her hands to the size of a grapefruit for the ones at home. She loves spiders, and is terrified of cats (the McClellons have four cats, so that was some fun times ;) She decided that she wanted to catch the spider so I punched a hole in the lid of a jar, and that's exactly what she did. I dubbed the spider Saffronia--Sophie for short--then brought her along with us to interviews at the church. After showing off our prize, we set her free in front of the church. The next day as we were walking in to church we saw that Sophie had spun a huge web in front of the church, and was sitting there waiting for us. Talk about creeper. We then proceeded to throw bugs into her web, which she captured and wrapped in her web. By we, I mean not me, my bug hatred has remained unchanged. Sophie was alright though when she was in her jar.
So many cool things happened this week that I don't even know where to begin. H picked a baptismal date! They had a family reunion this weekend, so they couldn't come to church, but she will next week. We taught a strange lady in the ward's friend which basically meant we sat there and listened as they swapped crazy spiritual experiences (how you can tell if your baptism "takes" is if you lose your imagination). It was one of those things where we were all thinking "what the, we need to maybe teach something" but after we left we all said we kept thinking about the Preach My Gospel section on listening, so kept quiet. All of us where on the same page. Literally. The Spirit is cool.
Your story about Suki made me die laughing. That dog.
Hope you have an awesome week, love you all!
-Sister Markle

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dear Family,
The weather here is actually really nice right now; it's not humid, and the temperature is what I would timidly call "Utah-esque." The world truly must be ending. One of the members reassured us that this is not normal, and that Christmas Day is still bathing suit weather. I have chosen not to believe her. I am telling myself that after a summer of sweat, I have finally earned my fall. We will see how far denial can take me.
Conference was so good! Not only did I stay awake for every session, but I also paid attention! Say whaaaaat?! Totally took notes, and everything--I only stopped to doodle once. I'm pretty sure I earned some serious brownie points with the big man upstairs this weekend ;) I'm sure there were a lot of the quotes that made it to pinterest, probably some nice versions of "doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith" and of course "close quote." We had to watch every session at the church in the chapel, so I have a serious case of pew-back.
We started teaching the daughter of a returning member in our area this week, and I am really excited. Her name is H, she's a little bit younger than Kami, and she really wants to be baptized. This week we're going to talk with them about coming to church, so wish us luck!
In last week's email I'm pretty sure I told you guys about the Spanish woman that we tracted into named Maria. On Tuesday when we came back, Sister Borja taught her the first lesson, and then Maria fed us pizza, and said that her home is our home. She was ridiculously nice. Super Catholic, but really nice. The Spanish missionaries went by at the end of the week, and met with her husband, so we might end up team teaching them? Kind of crazy at this point, but we'll see how this goes.
Love you all!
Sister Markle

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013

Family,
Yup, I'm a grandma. Weird, right? I figured they'd let me raise a child on my own before making me a grandma, but oh well. Sister Borja is so great; she is 21, and speaks English really well, because she lived in Utah for a year studying the language at some school in Orem. She is tiny, and cute. Yesterday while we were tracting, at every door I told her "maybe someone Spanish lives here" just to be funny. Those kind of jokes only get funnier the more you abuse them, you see. At houses that had sign like "the Davids" I'd say the name with a Spanish accent, and tell her she would for sure get to speak Spanish at this house. Two hours later and no Spanish people. Right before we finished up, we get to literally the last house on the street, and what do you know? A woman opens the door, and with a heavy Spanish accent tells us she has company coming, and to come back on Tuesday. As soon as the door closed we started dancing around, because we found our Spanish person. Clearly I'm inspired, just saying.
One of Brandon's pieces of mission advice he told me was to never go tracting. He had me swear to it. He broke down all these numbers, and explained to me the inefficiency of it. Obviously I agreed. It is inefficient, and finding through members is a much better way. When I came out here it became readily apparent that without tracting, we would be doing substantially less. Member missionary work is still at it's beginning stages, and so in the meantime our mission president has asked us to tract 7 hours a week. Lots of reasons behind it, and with there not having been missionaries in my area for so long, it made sense that we wouldn't be re-tracting too many people. Finally found my first person who said they had been tracted into before, and told the missionaries to never come back. He was annoyed we came back. We assured him we would write his address down and make a note to not come back. As we were leaving he said, "see you later," which made me laugh so I said "you said 'see you later,' but really you meant 'hope to see you never.'" He did not understand, and repeated, "see you later." People.
Another funny tracting story just for kicks (if tracting is good for nothing else, it is good for funny stories). After saying a prayer with a retired detective, he pulled me aside to tell me something "potentially rather embarrassing." He said that I have... I can't remember what it was called, but essentially he said that during the prayer he noticed I was standing with my feet pointed inwards, which meant I have this this weird condition and need to get special braces for my feet. I laughed. I called over my shoulder to my companions and told them that evidently I have "(insert whatever foot condition he said)" which then made them laugh. I assured him that I am just an awkward lerp, who sometimes stands awkwardly. Lesson learned. Don't stand pigeon toed during a prayer.
It's definitely true that when you stay in an area for a long time, you get to know the people really well. I think my family has officially doubled since coming here; people keep adopting us as their own. M.L.'s husband has called us her "Mormon daughters," and Sister Eason has told us that she is our mother while we are away from our real ones. I won't even begin to mention all my new grandparents. I get to talk to tons of people a day, some nice, some not so nice, but it's been so good.
Love you all so much!
Sister Markle

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dear Family,
I'm staying in the good ole Wake Village, but we are trio-training again. This time around Sister McMurtry has graduated from trainee to trainer, and I have graduated from trainer to supervising sister. Trios are lame-sauce, but evidently the Lord really thinks I need to learn to love them. Oh, well. I think this basically just makes me chauffeur for a transfer, but we'll see :) we got a text this morning, and found out that our new sister's name is Sister Borjas, and she's from Paraguay. She speaks Spanish which is awesome, because now when we see less-active Spanish speakers with a ward member, we can actually contribute. I figure this will make me the closest a sister can be to being a Spanish missionary in this mission. Right on. She'll be coming tonight, so I will send you a picture of the three of us next week.
Brother M got baptized on Saturday! Yay!!! It was awesome, he was so happy :) it was some scary times getting there, but he finally made it. On Tuesday we had the STLs come do splits with us, and one of them came to teach Brother M with me. We were reviewing baptismal interview questions, and when we left she asked if I thought he really wasn't drinking tea anymore. I was all like... ya? You have to be living the Word of Wisdom for at least seven days prior to baptism, and so the whole drive home we were kind of freaking out. The other sisters met up with us, and then I called him to double check that he really wasn't drinking tea. Awkward phone call, but the coast was clear. His daughter's baptism has been pushed to later so as to not interfere with her school work (lame), and one of the Elder's investigator's baptism was pushed to two weeks from now. Weezee was baptized though, and it was awesome too. She had a lot of people come, and I may or may not have suggested we sing a Christmas song as the closing hymn... The previous Sunday she told me she needed one more song, and that she wanted it to be one that she knew. I opened up to the Christmas songs, and we decided "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" was rather appropriate. Her husband may or may not have shot me a death glare while we were singing it. Worth it.
Remind CC that she is not to get married while I am gone. She seems to keep forgetting this.
Poor madre, rope courses are pretty intense. I think that might have been the rope course we went to for PALs in ninth grade, but I would have to see it. You'll have to get over this fear of heights if you ever want to end up as that cool grandma that goes parachuting. Just saying.
I am super pumped for conference. It's going to be great to see it as a missionary; this will probably be the first time I see every session, and am fully awake for every talk ;) haha so it should be great. Wish Dad and Brandon good luck with the marathon next week for me-- I am excited to get pictures of them wearing their medals! Just think, it was almost a year ago that they made the changes to the mission age, and look at how much it has changed! It's been a good year :)
Love you all!
Sister Markle

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday September 16, 2013

Family,
Alright, remember how I warned of a short letter? Ya. About that. I'm really good about reading through all my emails quickly, it's just responding that takes forever and a day, even with typing real fast ones to everyone.
Transfers are next week, still nervous about what is going down.
We should still be having a baptism on Saturday. Possibly. Just Brother M now, so hopefully it will happen. Keep the prayers coming! Haha love you all so much, thank you for all you do for me, I am definitely the most loved missionary :)
-Sister Markle

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mi Familia!
Sorry for the short email last week, hopefully this week will make up for it! Lots of big news! None of which are transfer information, sorry. Today was the first day of "week 5," so we won't know what's going down until next Friday :( also when I finally know, I probably won't be emailing until Transfer day since that day is P-day, in which case I'll be emailing from the new area if I get moved. At this point I have a sneaking suspicion I might be moving out, but I'm really not sure. There's another big sister shipment coming in, so maybe they'll have me train again? In which case I don't know if they'll leave me all the way out in Texas to train by myself, but who knows. I'm excited though, change is fun. Sad, but fun.
No one has said anything about a big storm coming our way, so maybe it'll shoot off somewhere else before hitting here? That's crazy that you guys almost had a tornado! I'd say I'm jealous, but there is a very real chance that I might jinx it, and I'd probably feel bad if I caused a tornado here.
We were able to start driving the cars again at start of the month; new month = fresh miles. The weather still hasn't really cooled off yet, but that may just be because the summer took so long before it actually started to heat up. My first transfer wasn't too hot, and we actually got rained on pretty decently, so now Texas is getting it's revenge.
 
The M Family we are teaching came at another road block, but they have been able to work past it. Both parents received their first priesthood blessings on Friday to help comfort them, which really helped. Yesterday when we went over, we set the father with the 21st as his date for baptism, and the mother decided that she wanted to be baptized then too. It's going to be super crazy helping them prepare for their baptisms next week, but I know that the Lord will help them. They've been through so many trials this summer, and all the waiting was discouraging the father, but now he just seems excited. The mother has always been ridiculously excited, so nothing new there :)
The Elders have lovingly dubbed the 21 as a "pool party" for Texarkana, because there will be four baptisms that day. Sister Harker even has special permission to come up for the baptisms, since she's not too far, and she helped teach the family. Actually she got permission to come because Weezee is getting baptized, but it all works out in the end. I don't know if I've told y'all (I was about to type "you all," but then I figured what the heck :) about Jason and Weezee yet, but they're a super cool couple the Elders have been working with. Yes, her name is Weezee. Actually Louise, but everyone calls her Weezee. Anyways, they've had us all over to eat a bunch of times, and Jason works in the family history center, so they're around the church a lot. Love them. So excited that Weezee is getting baptized. Everything is coming together here in Texarkana, which probably means I'll be transferring out.
Two quick cool experiences I had this week in which I looked back on and was all like, "where did that even come from? Oh ya. The Spirit. Cool." First one: we were teaching the L's and C.L. asked what was the difference in God's eyes between himself, and us. I answered by saying God loves each of us the same, but that it's like with his children, if one of them brought home a trophy, he would be very proud of that child for what they'd done, and the work they put in, but it wouldn't make him love his other child any less. No idea where that came from, but his kids totally have a million trophies so it worked. Crazy. Second one: Brother M was talking to us about how nothing seemed to go right in his life, and that it was as if everyone else was fishing and catching loads of fish, and he kept pulling up license plates. And boots. And only sometimes catching small fish. I told him that even though it's hard when it seems like everyone else is catching fish, all the boots he was pulling up were teaching him lessons, and helping him appreciate the fish in his life more than others would. It was weird, but it worked. Teaching by the Spirit is where it's at! Love you all, have a great week!
-Sister Markle

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dear Family,

I don't know if I'm Tour de France level, we only reached like 25 ish miles biking probably, while the Zone Leaders hit 103 miles. Ya. I still felt pretty proud of myself, also this week was like a million-dy degrees. We got fresh miles yesterday, and I was utterly pleased with life. The library is closed today, but we got special permission to email on the church's family history center computers. Which sadly means I don't have much time to email :(

Poor Kami! Not only did she have to go to the hospital, but she ALSO had to miss three days of school?! Worst week ever. I'll keep her in my prayers; missing school is a tragedy.

So this week we were able to teach the family I told you about us tracting into, and the lesson went super well.

No time. Sorry. Love you. Bye.

-Sister Markle

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

Family!
I did go to the doctor twice, first visit I was prescribed the penicillin, second visit was the azithromycin and gargling of a strong steroid. After all those antibiotics my stomach ended up feeling like it was eating itself every time I ate food, so when Sister McMurtry went to the doctor I talked to him, and he said to get on probiotics/ take Claritin D everyday/ eat yogurt with the probiotics. I hate yogurt. I have discovered that the only good flavor is Boston Cream Pie. I had about a month's worth of probiotics from Wal-Mart, and am nearing the end of them. My throat still doesn't look normal, but I figured at this point it's like whatever. Haha but once the probiotics are through, I will reevaluate my health and possibly go back in for a follow-up visit.
One family that we started teaching when I first got here was looking ready for baptism, then they backed way off. We had to give them some space for awhile. Fast forward to now, and they are at a much better place. Much more committed to the gospel, but still struggling with reading the book of Mormon. The dad's baptism is once again being pushed back. Reading is the biggest hold-up, but we've helped them make it more manageable. Baby steps :) We've talked with the dad about not being overwhelmed with what he doesn't know, but until he starts reading, picking a date for baptism is still going to be a struggle.
We are finally going to meet with the R family this week, which I am super excited about. Christina R was the second person I ever tracted into, and has been a promising potential investigator ever since. We consistently stop by and talk with her, but she had never really progressed from that point. Christina was open to learning more, but because we had never met with her husband she was having reservations. We have finally introduced ourselves to her husband, and he's actually a nice guy. We were worried. Instead of focusing on just her, we are now focusing on the family, which we should have been doing all along. I'm excited!
We had Zone Conference in Monroe Louisiana on Wednesday, and Elder Kopishke of the seventy came to speak with us. It was super cool, and spiritual. He addressed a lot of the problems the mission has been having, and it was all through question/answer. He is really cool, and the road trip was pretty fun, but now we are sunk for miles. Each car has an allotment, and basically everyone but the sisters is over. So now even though we did really well this month, we are stuck biking too. Like, I biked five miles to the library for emailing. It was a million degrees. McMurtry's chain fell off. I had a baby asthma attack. So fun. We're going to have to bike to the church for district meeting on Wednesday (about another five miles), and never touch our car. I'll tell you if I survive next week.

Love you all!
Sister Markle

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dear Family,
I got both letters! Yay! Maybe stick with gmail, or try both accounts next week and we'll test if the other is still not going through.
I've determined that mission life involves every week being weird in its own unique way. This week was weird, because not only is Sister Harker gone, but we've also started upping our tracting. I've never been super excited about tracting, and Sister Harker either refused to do it, or would only do a little bit, but the mission has really pushing that we get out and do it. We had five hours total this week, which I'm pretty sure is more than my previous two transfers combined. Definitely not very good at tracting yet, but as we've been doing it, we've been getting better at it. It's one of those skills that will require consistent effort, but we're already being blessed for our efforts, and have found people to teach.
Cool story. Yesterday we went to follow-up with a woman who said we could come back Sunday, and Sister McMurtry said we should just drive over because we were already in the car. I felt like we should drive back to our apartment and walk. I explained it wasn't a super strong impression, but that it just felt right. She was less than enthused, but was game. I felt like the pressure was on, and so I prayed that God would make the walk worthwhile. He did. Sister McMurtry was speed walking straight to the house, but I said we should turn and walk down this other street which circled to the street we were headed to. She asked why. Honestly I didn't have a good reason. I was actually kind of hoping we'd see this older couple that were referred to us by temple square my first transfer (they told us to "let it alone for a while" on the phone after dodging appointments) who lived on the street. I was being stalkerish, and felt ashamed, but as I was explaining the situation to Sister McMurtry, we came upon a house with a woman and her teenage daughter sitting on their porch. We said hello, and slowly made our way through small talk to their porch, and then sat with them for an hour talking about the church, missions, and answering questions. We have a return appointment for this week with the L family. ALSO because we were walking we were able to meet the husband of the lady we were originally headed to follow up with. He is actually more open to learning more than her, and set up a specific return appointment for this week. Blessings. The Lord truly works in mysterious ways, ways which, as it turns out, include walking preferences and stalker tendencies.
It's definitely weird being senior companion. A lot of responsibility, and more pressure, but more power. I liked being junior companion. I don't know if I will ever really be totally game with this senior companion thing. Also the training this is still weird. A little less weird, because now there's not two trainers/ two trainees, with me being the awkward trainer but still pretty much trainee. Hopefully things will start feeling normal soon. Love you all!
Sister Markle

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tues., August 13, 2013

Dearest Family,
 
Today was transfers! Luckily we didn't have to drive Sister Harker to the Shreveport transfer point, otherwise I would dead tired right now. We got the ok for her to drive with the Zone Leaders, so she got picked up at like 4:30 this morning. Harker is actually being transferred to Shreveport where she will be follow-up training Sister Ray whom we already know from our repeat sleep overs there my first transfer. Their area is being split into two, and the two sets of sisters are sharing an apartment. Luckily there are two bathrooms, and Harker will now have a bed instead of an air mattress, so it will be definitely an improvement for her. The Ashdown area in our ward was closed, and one of our Zone Leaders just finished his mission, so there are lots of changes for the Texarkana ward! We went from having 8 missionaries my first transfer, to 10 last transfer, and now we will be down to 6! Weird. It was weird waking up this morning after shipping off Harker, and realizing that I was now senior companion. Talk about stressful. I hadn't figured that this was going to happen until a ways away, and even though I knew it was coming, it is much more different to actually be living it. Definitely going to be "Livin on a Prayer" this week ;)
 
The package came this week, and it was the best thing ever. I wore the polka dot shirt on Sunday (with my striped skirt of course :), and listened to Joseph on my way over to the Library, and really everything is getting very good use. Thank you so much!
 
Last quick update, our apartment got the ultimate prank on Saturday night. Like a million pranks all in one, courtesy of all the elders. The STLs had accidentally taken our spare key, which they gave to the mission president's wife, which she then gave to our Zone Leaders on the good faith that they would get it back to us. Which they did. Along with a bunch of hidden fake coackroaches, creepy posters, balloons on our fan, popper attached to the door, strobe light, like a hundred old gross fundips scattered around, weird quotes taped up, jello in the toilet and spaghetti sauce, apartment lowered to 50 degrees, and more. They are ridiculous. It was really funny though.
 
Hope you all have an amazing week!
Sister Markle

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday, August 5, 2013

Family,
Did the Slap Yo Mama come yet? Also thanks so much for the soon to arrive package, y'all are the best :)
Big take away from this week? Members are the bomb. We had a lesson with the M family on Saturday, and were finally able to bring the fellowshipping family that we've had in mind. The two families are the same. Like ridiculously so. So many of Sister M's concerns were resolved by Sister Woodle, and it seems like they will be good supports for each other. Sister M has grown SO much since we've been meeting with them, and she just seems happier. She told us that without Brother B and us they wouldn't have made it, which was really humbling to hear. I know that God had prepared the M's, and with the wards help, they are there to stay. I'm so excited for them.

K's situation is still at a standstill. I know that from this experience her family has the opportunity to learn and grow, it just breaks my heart that K has to keep waiting. It's God's timetable though, and I know that if her family aligns their will with God's, they will be blest.

I'm the official driver now. That's right. Be scared :) hahaha I started driving today, and it was ridiculously exciting. I'm glad that I could start driving while Sister Harker is still here, she's an expert driving instructor. I nicknamed her Olga. It kind of feels like I'm 16 all over again. I'm definitely a spoiled missionary.

I'm going to miss Sister Harker. A lot. I'm glad we were able to build a friendship, but now it's time for Sister McMurtry and I to work together.
The Lord works in mysterious ways. I feel like that is applicable to my life.
Love you all!
Sister Markle

Monday, July 29, 2013

Family,
 
I'm pretty sure I maybe got Sister McMurtry sick... Just maybe... She has all the same symptoms as me, and so now we need to go back into the doctor again. I still have the bumps and weird colored throat, but I don't feel as sick so I just kinda ignore it, but Sis McDonough said I should go get my throat swabbed :( it's probably a virus since the antibiotics didn't do much/ the steroids helped/ it won't go away. Who knows though. I'll keep you posted.
 
We actually haven't ridden our bikes for a while, when McMurtry first got here her bike had fallen off the bike rack on the freeway from Shreveport, so we had to wait for it to get fixed. We have been lucky, and have been able to use the car without going over miles. It also hasn't been insanely hot yet, so no worries. Humidity is blah, but everyone keeps saying it's been a mild summer so I am counting my blessings.
 
Tell Kami happy birthday for me, and good luck with the uke! I sent her a birthday card so hopefully it made it in time? I also sent you guys some Slap Yo Mama seasoning, which I hear is the best Cajun/ spicy seasoning here, but I've only ever had the brand Tony's. It's really good on mac n' cheese, so maybe try the Slap Yo Mama on some :) Good work on the bike race! First place finishers!! Haha pretty impressive stuff :) Tell CC to not get married while I am gone. End of Story.
 
The ward council this week turned into a "Ward Blitz" with all the leadership in the ward taking a missionary and going to go see some of the less actives that were scooped in from the New Boston ward (there were like 50 names..). So basically the whole ward got involved in helping out us sister missionaries, and it was fabulous. They really wanted to take advantage of how many missionaries they have, and it was a success. The work is forwarding! Haha these past two transfers have been really focused on seeing less actives, and the part member families we have been working with, so it will be interesting to see the focus of next transfer. Still loving the work, and loving the area. Being a missionary is the greatest blessing, hopefully some blessings will rub off on the rest of y'all ;)
 
Love you!
Sister Markle

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 24, 2013

Dear Mom,
Did you try emailing this week? It's alright if you didn't, but if you did and it got lost in cyberspace again then that would be utterly lame. I'm emailing today, because Monday we had interviews with the President, and so our P-day got pushed back to Tuesday, and then we didn't have time to email, so that got pushed back to today. Sorry for the lack of a heads up!
Last week the Sister Training Leaders came and did exchanges with us, and were at our apartment for three days. There are three STLs. There are three of us. 3+3 = too many girls for one apartment, especially one bathroom. Haha despite the squishiness, it was really good. They helped us a lot, and we have plenty to work on. Sister McMurtry and I were with Sister Johnson, who is really cool, but it was super crazy because we went and did Visiting Teaching with a Spanish sister in the ward, which basically turned us into Spanish Sisters for a day. Ok, really only like three hours, but still. We had no clue what was going on during the visits, tried to share spiritual thoughts (I read from the Spanish Book of Mormon for one of the visits, and that was really pathetic--but so fun), so all in all it was a really interesting, but super cool experience.
There is some craziness that came up with K's baptism so sadly that is being postponed for a while. They need all this information from her birth mother, and other stuff, so hopefully I will tell you more about the craziness once it gets all worked out, because right now it is just a big ball of crazy. Ya. Haha I keep re-learning how weird mission life is, maybe one day I will have fully learned the lesson, and then I will be learning how normal mission life can go. That'll be the day.
We found out that Sister Harker is definitely leaving at the end of this transfer (in like two ish weeks), so now Sister McMurtry and I are supposed to drain her dry of all her wisdom, and then work the area alone when she's gone. Kind of scary, but it will be good. It also means that I will be driving once she is gone, so that will be interesting. Most of the missionaries have either a TomTom or a Garmen GPS system to find their way around, so if we miraculously have a GPS somewhere on a shelf that I can use, that would be awesome, otherwise I'm not really sure what to do. If you would consult with Papa, and give me further direction next week I would be very appreciative. Missions kinda seem to be a money drain, but if "there is but one soul" that comes unto Christ because of this then it will be worth it. I'm just hoping that this doesn't turn out to be the most ridiculously expensive 18 months of EFY, and only I benefit, but that's not going to be the case. I'm determined :) Regardless, thank you for all that you and dad have done and sacrificed for me, I am eternally grateful! Love you all so much, and have a great week!
-Sister Markle

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 15, 2013

Dear Shauna (AKA Mom),
 
I am doing great! Another weird week, but less weird than last week. At this rate things will probably be more normal by the end of the transfer, and then they'll get weird again. Oh well. I got the package Friday, and it made my day! The quotes are all over my wall now, I'll have to take a picture and send you it next week, it looks real good. The granola was muy excellante! Two CDs? What's the other CD?
 
Poor CC! (I can now say poor CC, since she finally wrote me a real letter. She has now earned herself some sympathy :)
 
We usually have at least two dinner appointments each week, but this week there's one every single day! I have the recipes that you made us all for Christmas, but I just eat freezer food, so it's all good... Haha I'm still just as lazy, no surprises there :)
 
The baptism is for this week, but it might get pushed back until next week... MORE drama. I'm almost out of emailing time though, so it will have to wait for next week...
 
Love you all so much, have a great week!
 
-Sister Markle

Thursday, July 11, 2013

July 8, 2013

Dear Momma,
I really did call the mission office right away! Promise! I had curled my hair that morning which always makes me feel lightheaded and queasy (too much heat on my head at one time), and so when I started to feel that way later in the day, I thought it was still related to curling my hair. When we got home that night I took a peak into the back of my throat and realized I was legitimately sick. Harker realized she was having the same symptoms. We called Sister McDonough right away, and they figured it was probably a virus, and we were just going to have to stick it out. I wanted to go to the doctor, but I kind of had to wait for the ok first. It was lame, but I'm doing much better now. If when I was little it was really just the craters in my throat and nothing on my hands or feet, then this is probably the same thing. I've been taking my penicillin like a good little girl though, and feel a lot better. I haven't looked at my throat for the past few days, because I wanted to give it time to start looking better. I'll look at it today, just for you.
This week has been weird, because we had to try to bounce back from being sick, and with transfers on top of all of it, it made for a very weird week. The 4th was really fun though, we had a ward pancake breakfast, and had kind of a fhe/game afternoon over at the W's (we are teaching the youngest, K who is 10, and is going to be baptized on the 19th) which was really fun. We were all then fed by some ward members, then went over to the church for volleyball, which ended with fireworks and sparklers.... not really sure if that was completely white handbook approved, but it was really fun so ya.... Haha the sparklers and snaps you sent were definitely a hit, so thanks again :)
Poor Tad. Katie needs to stop breaking hearts, and just settle down already. Remind her of the dangers of becoming an... Shoot! I forgot her name! It's Elizabeth Bennett's best friend who ends up marrying Mr. Collins because she had no prospects. Hahahahaha Katie will like that for sure.
CC is dumb. She can't claim homesickness until she gets her phone taken away. Also she doesn't write me so I have no pity.
The trio is actually working better than I expected so far. Sister McMurtry is one of those ridiculously always happy sorts of people that you sometimes want to shake, but know you shouldn't because obviously they're in the right, and that would be dumb. We all bring something necessary to the companionship, and once we get it all figured out we're going to be unstoppable. Muaaaaaah. The evil laugh was necessary and you know it.
So here is my utterly ridiculous story of the week. Enjoy. Yesterday was really really sad, because Angela had a set baptism date for this Saturday, and the gospel was changing her life and blessing her SO much, but then we got a text out of the blue during church that said she felt lead to go to a different church, and that we could pick up our books from her Aunt's, and that we should leave her in peace. Not gonna lie, that stung. I tried to figure out where we went wrong, but there gets to be that point where people make the choice for themselves, and there's really nothing we can do about it. It's hard to see her do that, but we're going to try to get over there tomorrow and see what's up/ let her know we're still here for her, because her life is legitimately nuts. Even though that was really disappointing, I still have faith in the work, and am still committed. I bounced back quick, which is good because I didn't want to have to feel depressed. I got a taste of the way Christ feels when we reject Him, which was no fun, but helped me grow. Now on to the ridiculous part of the story. On Saturday Angela said she couldn't find any of the Book of Mormons we had given her, and our car had been emptied out of our backups due to transfers. I got a really bright idea. I gave her MY Book of Mormon in good faith, and told her we would trade back on Sunday. You know a whole, this book means a lot to me, but you need it a lot more right now kind of thing? Ya...... Awkward.... I have now learned to never ever give out your Book of Mormon no matter how trustworthy the person seems, because you will invariably get a loco crazy text from them, and life will be incredibly inconvenient for a few days while you wait to get back your book. These things only happen to me.
There's really nothing I can think of for the package... Except wait! CARDS! I broke down and bought myself a pack, but if I could get some of our old ghetto packs so we can have some Squeak tournaments that would be stellar. I am forced to call it Nerts here, but I will try to convert these people to the game's proper name. I love you all so much!
-Sister Markle

July 3, 2013

Dear Family,
 
I've been sick :( last week was noooo fun, my throat looks nasty-nast. Bumpedy-lumpedy, yellowish, and vein-y, which is kinda why I was thinking it might be strep throat, BUT since I didn't have a fever that theory never really flew. Sis. Harker was sick too, and it was just a weird situation, because we described our symptoms to Sister McDonough (mission president's wife) over the phone, who then researched it online, then called the medical people and described our symptoms to them, who then decided we probably had a virus. They had us gargling warm salt water (gross) and taking Ibuprofen last week, and Harker started getting better but I was the same-ish. They told us to have me go see the doctor Saturday, but we came like fifteen minutes after they closed so we had to go Monday. The Stake President is actually a doctor and part owner of a Medical Express clinic here, so they had us go there. The doctor who saw me was also a member (he goes to the other ward though), and he spoke super quickly so I'm still not entirely sure what I have. Hand, Foot, and Mouth was the first possibility he talked about but I don't have bumps on my hands or feet, plus I guess mostly children get it. Whatever. He said two other things but I didn't do a very good job at remembering... I got a steroid shot in my behind though. That was weird. The doctor kind of figured my throat should clear up by today since it's the one week mark, but he wrote a prescription just in case. We just picked up the antibiotics, and it's Penicillin so that should be fun. I just want to get feeling better, so hopefully the Penicillin clears up whatever it is.
 
Transfer day was yesterday, and we picked up a new companion! Her name is Sister McMurtry, and she's another trainee fresh out of the MTC! We are now a trio. We found out about it on Friday, so we used some of our quarantine time to rearrange our apartment to make room for her. President McDonough gave us permission to not all have to sleep in the same room, so Harker is now in the study room and McMurtry took her place in the bedroom. She is 20, from Idaho, and has been going to college in Dallas so she isn't too far from where she used to live. I get to "train" her and Harker basically gets to supervise, so that will be cool. I'll give more details next week when I am hopefully less groggy of mind :)
 
I couldn't find my camera or list of things to remember to tell you guys about, so that thing I told you guys to wait for before putting the package together has most definitely been forgotten. I don't think it was really important anyways, so feel free to send without whatever it might be :)
 
I love you all so much!