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