Monday, November 10, 2014

November 10,2014

Dear Family,

So I guess this is my last email? That's weird. Am I supposed to tell you people what time my flight gets there? Cause I didn't bring my boarding pass to the library (I think that might classify you as trunky if you carry it around with you...), but I'm pretty sure we leave Mississippi at 9AM ish, and get to Salt Lake around 1PM ish. You're welcome.

Cool story of the week award goes to the lesson we had this morning. Proselyting isn't supposed to begin until 6pm on P-days, right? Wrong. If you take an hour for dinner after 6 on P-day for a meal appointment, then you make up for it by beginning proselyting at 5. Mind you, I wasn't aware that was a thing until I came to Monroe. Also we aren't supposed to write letters except for during free P-day time. Mind you, I wasn't aware that was a thing until Monroe either. Communication of do's and don'ts in general is sometimes a problematic thing down South :) ANYWAYS when Elder Zwick came to our Mission he promised that if we were all able to get two lessons Monday evening, then the baptisms would double. President liked the sound of that, so we have a new key indicator tracking Monday night lessons.

On Tuesday we did our Thirsty Thursday (since MLC was Thursday and Friday, we needed to bike a different day), and tried following up with all the former investigators. A couple weeks ago Sister Parmenter had a bad migraine, so I had a date with the Area Books, and after getting them in order put all the former investigators in our GPS. None in the area we biked to were home, but we were able to meet N while in the process. We walked up to a house that someone had been taught at one time five years ago, and even though I figured they'd moved, we went up to their neighbor (N) who was sitting in a car, and asked if she knew the person. She said no, she and her family had just moved in a few weeks ago with her Mom. N said before she'd moved from the other side of Monroe, some Elders had taught her a little at the door. We asked N if she'd like to learn more, she pondered for a solid 5 mississippi's, and accepted our offer. She asked us to come back Monday at 10, and we were too excited to meet with her that we didn't push the P-day issue. At MLC I asked if Monday morning lessons fit the criteria for Monday night lessons despite you know, the sun still being up, and President said it fulfilled the purpose of starting the week off right, so ya. For your information, Monday morning lessons are now officially the best lessons.

Not only was N home in body (always a toughy), but she'd also just finished reading from the Bible so she was spiritually there too. She grew up Catholic, is currently going with her husband to a Baptist church (did you catch that she's married? Also a toughy), and is searching for a stronger relationship with God. We had a super spiritual/ still covered all the points in the Restoration/ still extended all the commitments/ still committed her to baptism next month/ still got out of there in only 45 minutes lesson. It was good stuff. She loved the Joseph Smith story, and said that she prays for the spirit of discernment, so believes that what he saw was possible, but also believes that Mohammad wasn't a prophet (proving that she doesn't just buy into everything, which sometimes I worry about). We're teaching her again on Wednesday, and she promised to find a time we could meet with the rest of the family too! Yay for the elect!

Lots of Love,
Sister Markle


Way too dark - but a beautiful sunset on the Mississippi River.



Sister Parmenter and Sister Markle

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3, 2014

Family!

Our stand at ULM was a success! Instead of lemonade or hot chocolate (messy messy messy) we went in favor of passing out candy on Halloween. I figured it hit two birds with one stone: 1. We were able to lure people in with an appropriate gimmick (who doesn't want candy on Halloween?!) 2. We were able to distance ourselves in people's brains from Jehovah's Witnesses (we were openly celebrating a holiday). Oh ya, and we wanted to share the gospel too... Anyone that came for candy got a pass-along card (we passed out infinite cards), those that stayed to chat usually accepted a pamphlet (we passed out over 10), and then also gave away four copies of the Book of Mormon (everyone that got one asked for one too, which was pretty cool). I kind of Bible-bashed with one of the people that ended up asking for a Book of Mormon, he was acting super weird, and then tried shooting us with his anti-Mormon-misinformation beams, which we deflected with the shield of faith of course AKA cold hard facts courtesy of the Book of Mormon. College kids are pretty weird. Some long-boarders wearing scary masks tried to creep us out a few times, and we learned that Draco Malfoy can talk for days. All in all, it was a really fun day.

Have I ever told y'all about the Mustache Man? Well, his real name is R, but he has a mustache that thoroughly covers his mouth, and sometimes makes communication with him rather difficult, as we don't speak mustache. Anyways, a couple weeks before the end of last transfer we had about twenty minutes before a dinner appointment, and decided to tract in a neighborhood called Treasure Island, because it was exciting sounding, and the Spirit said to. At the last house we met R, who's from Georgia, but is in Monroe staying with a friend so he can sell Mona Vie (this health drink that heals you). Apparently the company is owned by Mormons, so he knew some stuff already, and asked for a Mormon Bible. We obliged, he didn't seem too keen on letting us teach him, so I gave him the Resto, Plan, and Gospel pamphlets too (he said he liked to read...). We called to follow-up a week later, and found that he had read all the pamphlets, was pleasantly surprised that we also believed in pre-Earth life as well as multiple levels of heaven, and was in 2 Nephi. Say whaaaat. Taught him the first week of this transfer while we still had Baby, and he was still super cool, but expressed that he doesn't want to come to church until he finishes the book, because he's been seriously burned by churches in the past. Our return teaching/meal appointment got rescheduled for this past week due to the tornado and his busy schedule, but we were on exchanges, so I didn't get to go. Essentially he made them the hugest huge sauce meal of deliciousness (I DID get some leftovers :), and accepted their baptismal invite. He said that if he got baptized right now it'd be because he liked us, so he still plans on waiting until after he's done with the Book of Mormon. The Mustache was in Alma 3 last week though, so it's just a matter of time! He also said he hasn't found anything about polygamy in the Book yet, so that's a good sign too ;)

Love y'all bunches!
Sister Markle
Draco Malfoy asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon!

We set up a stand on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Monroe

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014

Family!

This week our item of bucket list business was tracting double digit hours AKA 10. While generally speaking my tracting aspirations plateau at 7.5 hours tops, this week we were pioneer children and knocked and knocked and knocked. Sadly our lesson count was still rather low, but it was made up for in the fact that we found someone really awesome! On Wednesday I pulled out the GPS to triangulate our street of attack, but felt like Sister Parmenter should do the honors instead. As she looked at the map, we then thought to pray, which we did, and she selected a little nub street in the middle of a neighborhood. The thing about that particular neighborhood is that it was my old focus area with Sister Newman, and by the time Sister Parmenter had come along I was SO done with it. There weren't any real potentials over there, and I thought we'd completed our purpose in finding the daughter of a less-active (the daughter lead us to Sister R whose records weren't here yet, but she immediately started coming back and was able to have her eight year old son baptized). Needless to say, after a whole transfer in that neighborhood I was done and never looked back; didn't bring Sister Parmenter over there, and didn't care to. And thus we see that Sister Parmenter was the one that needed to pick our nub street, because I was too far done. It's funny, a few days before I'd even looked at our map, saw the nub, and thought to myself that I think we'd accidentally skipped over it when we worked our way through that neighborhood, so when Sister Parmenter asked about it, I already knew it was free game. The first door we knocked was one of those where you think they're elect and will be baptized....all the way up until they Revelation 22:18 you insistently and call Joseph Smith a liar for not liking guns then "dying in a gun fight" and then finally reject your pass-along card for having a graven image on it (AKA a picture of Christ). You win some, you lose some. We tracted for two hours on our nub, and were eventually able to talk to a really nice young mom (named A) unloading pumpkins from her car. Searching for a stronger relationship with God, and a church home? You bet. She saw us as an answer to prayer, and we thought the same of her. When we left her to knock on the house across the street, we spied A sitting on her porch reading the Restoration pamphlet intently. The elect are out there!

Next week's items of business:
-Proselyting on the bus (we never ever take it because it has maybe one stop in our area)
-Proselyting at ULM (University of Lousiana at Monroe is half in our area, and this week we want to maybe set up a lemonade stand or something with a member. We'll see if the Man approves :)

Love y'all!
Sister Markle

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014

Dear Family,

This week was pretty weird. Basically we had one day of normal proselyting, and that day was yesterday. Here's how it all went down:

-Monday, as mentioned in last email, was MLC in Jackson. After that was over we picked up Sister Martyn's new companion in Wesson, and made it home to West Monroe sometime around 9:30-10pm, so stayed the night with those sisters.
-Tuesday we drove the sisters to their breakfast teaching appointment at IHOP, and sat awkwardly in the booth behind them while they did their missionary thing (they had a return missionary with them, so it would've been 5 missionaries against one poor soul if we ate/taught with them...). The rest of the day involved running around trying to find an open library (apparently library's are afraid of the big bad tornado), and then after dropping the West Monroe sisters off at their home right as P-day time ended, we were able to see our couple of evening appointments.
-Wednesday was entirely spent in Shreveport for Zone Conference with Elder Zwick and then a ward council/ full-time missionary meeting for the Shreveport and Monroe stakes. Due to a mix-up of times, rather than being seated at 10 that morning for the meeting to start at 10:30, we were seated at 10:30...after walking past a chapel-full of judge-y missionary peers. We were saved from any added embarrassment, as Elder and Sister Zwick/President and Sister McDonough entered the chapel at 10:45. Phewf! At the evening meeting I was able to say hi to some old Texarkana friends (Jason and Weezee!), which was very fun. The current Wake Village sisters updated me on people, and I found out that their three children that got baptized were from the S clan, which was a family we'd worked a bunch with a year ago (R was a returning member we focused on a lot my 3rd and 4th transfers there, the kids were her sister's). So cool how the Lord prepares families over time! We ended up getting home at 12:30am.... Should've stayed the night, because that 6:30am comes bright and early ;)
-Thursday morning we helped a less-active with laundry, and that afternoon we helped with tornado clean-up.
-Friday was Weekly Planning, Meet the Mormons movie party/ Zone Conference review with the McDonoughs. After all that was through we only had time for one evening appointment.
-Saturday we spent half the day in Bastrop handing out movie coupons again. President asked us after the movie on Friday what our plans were the next day, which was code for, whatever you were planning on doing, how about you do this instead. Mission Presidents have power.
-Sunday we finally had a normal day! Yay! :)

Cool story of the week:
-While in Bastrop I went with Sister Shallbetter (MTC companion!), and we tracted for three hours straight handing out coupons. Near the end of our marathon we met the miracle lady. Yulanda was taught by Elders while she lived in Texas, loved the church, moved to Bastrop and lost contact, has a brother currently being taught in Virginia (who's a miracle himself as the Elders showed up on a day he was contemplating suicide), and had just told her boyfriend the night before that she wanted to go find the missionaries. Her boyfriend had laughed telling her she'd have to drive all around town, but God is really loving and just sent us to her door instead. She cried when we gave her a new copy of the Book of Mormon, and readily committed to go to church and have a lesson Sunday (haven't heard yet if that all worked out). Because Meet the Mormons isn't supposed to be a proselyting movie, the missionaries aren't supposed to get contact info from those they give coupons to, or try follow-ing up with people to get them to see it. Our running joke was that someone would ask to be taught and/or baptized after we gave them the coupon, and that we'd vehemently refuse on account of the fact we "weren't proselyting." Miracle Lady proved that our joke was in fact just a joke ;)

Excluding two exchanges, this week should be back to business as usual. Hopefully I didn't just jinx it...

Love y'all oodles and boodles!
Sister Markle

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 14, 2014

Dear Family,

Two full circle moments this week:

-While waiting for sisters to pile out of the transfer van this past Tuesday, we quickly realized they were one short. Sister Martin is serving in West Monroe and was waiting for a sister to come be her companion, but instead that poor sister went home due to health problems. Too bad nobody informed any of us, but to all of our surprise it wasn't too weird and we just rolled with it. Sister Martin was our temporary companion for the week and we worked the combined Monroe/West Monroe super-area, and just left the combined numbers as the West Monroe sister's proselyting area because it was too confusing and we were over there most of the time (we got a lovely phone call from one of the Assistants to the President yesterday asking nicely for our area's numbers because all he had was zeros... haha we told him that he did in fact have our numbers ;). Funny thing was that Sister Parmenter and I had been joking last transfer that we wanted an STL baby (AKA we wanted to train together), so we joked that Sister Martyn was our baby, and she just came pre-trained. Literally, she's been out for like fifteen months. Despite the fact that she's been out longer than Sister Parmenter, we called Sister Martin Baby all week, and she called us Mom. It was pretty tender, and not demeaning in the slightest. Full circle moment because when my companion went home early due to back problems I hung with the STLs for a week too.

-Next up we went to MLC on Sunday and Monday, with Elder Zwick of the Seventy there to teach us cool things. We were allowed to bring Baby with us, and on the way back last night we swung by Wesson MS and picked up her new companion from the trio there. Full circle moment because the sister had just been transferred there, it was going to be her second area, and she's been out six months, which was my same situation when I was ET-ed, I mean "moved," from Purvis to Oak Grove. What what? Also Sister McMurtry was part of that sister-trio so it was all sorts of nostalgic.

Moving on from those two fun things, this week was pretty rocking. Our temporary trio was all sorts of fun, and we taught some pretty powerful lessons together. Best moment came from teaching a nonmember in the member home he's living in right now (West Monroe area), and teaching a really great lesson only to have my baptismal invite taken over by the nine year old member that then told a random story when the guy was about to respond. When I re-extended the invitation he gave a lame maybe answer, but we all agreed it seemed like he was going to say something different the first time. Kids will be kids, and it was probably one of the funniest fail moments I've experienced in a while :)

A cute kid named U was baptized this week, but he's only 8 and his whole family are members, so we didn't really teach him, but still taught him. I don't know if I told y'all about Sister R, but Sister Newman and I tracted into her adult daughter, who wasn't interested in learning, but told us that her mom was a member, so we should visit her. Sister R has been coming back ever since, and was really only inactive for.... I actually don't know how long but they moved from Texas like 5 months ago, so at least that long. Not too bad by Southern standards, plus they're really great. Yay for U!

Another random occurrence: there was a tornado that blew through Monroe and West Monroe yesterday, but we were in Jackson during it, so were safe and sound. There's some random trees blown over, but besides lots of power outages, the damage isn't too bad.

Last random thing: President called us Wednesday night and asked us to spend Thursday in Bastrop handing out half price movie tickets, because it was one of the only theaters in the mission to be showing "Meet the Mormon's". It was pretty fun stuff, and our Zone gets to see it Friday when President brings a copy to show :) should be great! We also have Zone Conference tomorrow in Shreveport with Elder Zwick, so this week will be pretty different, but maybe not quite as different as this past week. Different = fun though so life is good.

Love y'all a bunch!
Sister Markle

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October 7, 2014

Family,

This week we went on exchanges with the Winnsboro Sisters, and I had the pleasure of bringing the trainee Sister Thompson back to Monroe (it was her first STL exchange!). The one lesson we got to teach was probably one of the weirder/funny lessons I've taught, but it was awesome because it forced her to take the lead which is what our district leader wanted us to work on with her. Our teaching appointment had fallen through, so the member that came out with us agreed to try some less-actives. One of the women we caught is married to a member, but isn't a member herself. While her husband wasn't home, she let us in to talk, and we found out she doesn't know much about the church. Keep in mind she was also crazy old, just woke up from a nap, and can't hear very well. Sister Thompson had happened to sit in the one chair within easy hearing distance, so when she asked me what we should teach, I told her the Restoration and asked her to take the reigns. She was pretty unsure of the whole semi solo teaching situation, but I think it was great practice; the Lord knows our needs, and provides situations specific to helping each of us learn what we need to! While the lady maaay have dozed off a little on us, it just added to the funniness of the situation :)

Transfers threw off our groove today, so I don't have much time to write a real weekly email, but there wasn't too much to report on anyways, so I'll just be sure to make next week's extra juicy ;)
K was only able to watch the Saturday morning session of conference, but Elder Christofferson had a really good talk on grace, justice, and mercy so hopefully that helped things click a little better! We won't be able to teach them this week because they're going to be out of town the whole time, so it'll be a couple weeks before there's a good update on them.
We've found a few cool people, but we're just working on trying to meet with them now so we can help them progress! No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing!

-Sister Markle

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 29, 2014

Family,
A did in fact get baptized and confirmed yesterday by her husband after church (so sometimes the South is sketchy and people don't get confirmed in a Sacrament meeting...). YAY FOR A!!! Probably the only hitch was on Wednesday when she texted and told us none of the suits in Monroe or West Monroe fit her or R (R played football in high school and basically he's a pretty big dude), and they were worried they'd have to postpone until some could be ordered. I was just surprised they'd thought to try on the suits ahead of time, and her concern was swallowed up in my excitement over the fact that R would be able to baptize her. We made some calls, and luckily we were on exchanges in Magnolia at the time, so the next day we just swung back through El Dorado and borrowed some of their suits. Much to A's chagrin she had to get baptized in a dress with ruffly sleeves, and a bow-tie. This fact was not made any better when she tried it on right after we'd had like a four hour car drive, lots of sugar, two exchanges, and were slap-happy (justifying...) so I might've cried I was laughing so hard. She just looked so mortified, and you all know how much I enjoy bothering people... We repented by wearing bow-tie shirts in support ;) I also made a little Sister Newman doll, so that she wouldn't have to be sad for not being able to be there. People may have thought I was creepy, but really they were just jealous that they don't have a little doll made of themselves. Wait in line people, wait in line.
In other news the work was kind of slow this week. Granted I was out of our area for two days, but alas. We could possibly blame it on one of the sisters we went on exchanges with in Magnolia; at some point during dinner, she stood on her chair and pronounced what sounded like an African curse on us (she's from, you guessed it, Africa). She claimed to have said something nice, but we guessed she was cursing our hair to fall out. Who knows, maybe she was cursing our finding efforts ;)

Love y'all bunches!
Sister Markle



Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22, 2014

Family,

As mentioned last week, I came to the conclusion that teaching with our Mission President and his wife would be pretty cool, so that's just what we did.  A was in New Orleans this weekend for school, but K brought a random friend with him to the Saturday evening session of Stake Conference, and had a different random friend sit in on our McDonough lesson.  Stake Conference must be pretty weird from the eyes of an investigator, especially this "hastening the work" business; we must seem like the most obsessed people.  From my experience, one of Elder Zwick's favorite things to talk about are ipads, so K laughed with us (but probably mostly at us ;) for being the loser missionaries that are behind the times. At the end of the session I asked them jokingly if they were pumped to be missionaries, but K just said he had a lot to think about.

Now on to the coolest lesson. K and President were essentially the only ones that spoke during the lesson, and when we left Sister McDonough was her typical humbleness and just kept saying "He is amazing, he is so amazing. I have so many questions now, I'm worried I've been superficial (in her studies)." K grew up in a nondenominational church where a lot of people did crazy stuff and chalked it up to being influenced by the Spirit to do those things, so now while he believes the Spirit leads to truth, ultimately we need concrete truths from the Bible. President talked him into understanding that his concrete source of truth involved his own interpretations, and so the Spirit's role is to bring our interpretations in line with God's. He gave him two talks to read about grace, his phone number to call and discuss his reading, and then challenged him to try out not believing in the trinity as an experiment. President is the coolest.
In other news, A (lots of investigators with first names that start with A...) is still getting baptized this Saturday, and already passed her interview. This is our District Leader's first transfer as a District Leader, so A was his very first interview. It took them like half an hour, and A emerged with all sorts of random mission stories such as a nudist colony in Slidell. Missionaries are weird.
In sad news, we forgot that Tuesday was A's birthday, and didn't call and sing to her like we had to L and K on each of their birthdays (her sister/brother-in-laws). We're failures, but she forgave us anyways :) little does she know it took me most of my life to remember my own family's birthdays.... and I still don't remember ANYONE else's... good thing we have planners to remember for us!

In other sad news we had a loser phone call this week. I don't know if I told y'all about H and P, but they were a cool couple we had an awesome first lesson with a couple weeks back. They had SO many questions about God and religion, but due to them being busy our return appointment kept getting pushed back until this Friday. Sister Parmenter called Friday afternoon to confirm the appointment, and I sat across the table from her while she got super excited, and asked if they wanted to set a date for baptism, or if we should talk about all that this evening. Her face then got super confused, and she realized that he actually hadn't told her that they'd discovered that this was the true church, but was instead asking us to not come back, because they were going to look into ALL religions (Muslim, Catholic, etc.). That conversation definitely took a turn for the worst. At least they didn't break up with us over text, right?

In STL news we had like three exchanges this week. We're pooped. We did our full exchange with the Ruston Sisters on Wednesday, and then on the way home did another one with the West Monroe Sisters from noon to 9, and then on Saturday had a baby-sized couple hour exchange with the El Dorado sisters, because their ride brought them way too early to Stake Conference. Even though West Monroe and El Dorado are double-dippers, we had a good time ;)

Love y'all oodles and boodles!
Sister Markle

P.S. I just looked up one of the talks President left with K, and it was sooooooo good. That Bruce R. McConkie sure knew his stuff. "What Think Ye of Salvation By Grace" is good stuff for anyone to read, but I may be biased because it so pointedly deals with K's concerns. Also for the past while I may have been saying that salvation by grace alone, irrespective of our own efforts, is in line with Lucifer's plan of salvation, and it's always nice to have your conclusions backed up by an apostle ;)

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15, 2014

FAMILY,
I think my mission bucket-list is slowly coming forth point by point, because while I don't have an actual list, we find a new "mission" every time an item is accomplished. This week we decided it'd be pretty swell to teach a lesson with the McDonoughs (the Mission President and his wife...), which is realistic because they're coming for Stake Conference this weekend (Elder Zwick of the Seventy as well as an Area Seventy is also coming, because the Stake Presidency is changing). We decided to call President up, and the dream became even realistic-er. He said they had time for a lesson right before driving to Shreveport after the Sunday session, so this evening we're going to see if it would work for K and A, because we figure they'd benefit most from the McDonough's awesomeness. Story to be continued next week.

This week we had a double-dose of exchanges; I brought a West Monroe Sister to our turf Tuesday, and then stayed in Bastrop Thursday while Sister Parmenter did her first exchange in Monroe on her year mark. We also got sick. As in I'm still sick, but on the mend. Friday-Sunday were rough stuff, but we pushed through. The standards of excellence for tracting and copies of the Book of Mormon lent in the mission is 7, so that's what we did. We also gave two church tours this week, and had a couple come to church that Sister Parmenter met quick on Thursday, and we taught once on Saturday. They may have thought we were Jehovah Witnesses, which is why they let us come back Saturday (it must've been opposite day), but they were still interested even when we cleared that up. Their names are N and A. I didn't even cringe too much when the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom were brought up in Gospel Principles (both of which they aren't living...yet...), and then the Relief Society lesson was completely on temples and the work for the dead. If they're ready they're ready, but their eyes were extra glow-y when they left church, so I think that's a good sign ;)

I've been such a good little girl, and have contented myself with the one quick email Sister Creager sent me a month ago, as well as random bits of second hand information from Greenville's STLs at MLC, but last night the silence finally ended. I finally got my Greenville update. All is well in the world. Linnie's still doing awesome, steady and sure, progressing at her own pace. They had L teach them the Restoration a couple weeks ago, and when they asked her what the difference was for her this time through it as opposed to the first time we taught her it, she said that this time she knows Joseph Smith was a prophet. Too good. Operation Cleveland has been a success, they go there every single week now. ALSO a recent convert moved to Cleveland to go to the University there, so every Thursday when they work there they get to go on splits with her. The Lord provides! Ready for my super exciting, unexpected news? They had a baptism a few weeks ago, and the lady was able to go to the temple this past week, and is crazy converted to the gospel. Here's the story. A couple weeks before Sister Welch was transferred, our Zone Leader Elder Bird was on exchanges in Greenville, and gave us like ten old teaching records from their area book that were actually in our area (Elder Bird had re-opened Greenville the summer before, so that's why he was involved). Sister Welch and I didn't contact any of them, but when Sister Creager came, we steadily worked on the list. That last Thursday before transfers, we finally contacted three of our last people, one of which was the lady that got baptized! It was a crazy rainy day, and even though we were finally able to meet her, they were getting ready for a baby shower, so we weren't able to teach. We gave her a Book of Mormon, and set up the return appointment for the next week. While I'm barely involved in the story, it was still really exciting to hear, because no one has been baptized in a past area that I'd even met. Until now. Bucket list item = check.

Love you bunches!
Sister Markle

P.S. While inserting my SD card to upload some pictures, I discovered it is now empty. Luckily I'd filled my other card a few days before leaving Greenville, so there's only a few goodbye pictures that are gone forever, rather than a whole area. Monroe is gone forever though... I hadn't taken TOO many pictures, plus Sister Newman probably has most of the important ones anyways, but still. Lame.

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8, 2014

Dear Family,
Sometimes we go to Jackson for MLC, and sometimes these MLC's are a lot more exciting than others. Elder Zwick came to our mission last December and promised us that we could double our baptisms the next year through our own efforts, but through the members we could triple our baptisms. This tripling didn't happen, so people were kinda bummed, but we have a new goal! So far we're at 170, so President McDonough gave the challenge to get 33 baptism each month for the rest of the year to achieve the goal of 300 baptisms. In order to get there we talked about having a greater focus on our purpose, and having more faith to invite to baptism. We ALSO talked about how the standards for music vary greatly around the mission. There was a unanimous decision (between 30 leadershipy missionaries) to create the new standard of only listening to music sung in General Conference. Hahahahaha never thought I'd live to see the day, or though I'd be a part of the decision! Let's just say there are some angry missionaries in the MJM right now... Worth it! By the end of the year the mission's average amount of time in the field will be 4 months, so it's better changes happen now than later. Plus maybe my singing can improve now that I can listen to music again, singing to fill the silence just hasn't been pretty this past month...
Ch dropped us out of the blue on Tuesday, so that was simply absurd. She seemed pretty decided about wanting to go to her family's church instead of ours, but was super afraid of hurting our feelings. We assured her that no, we don't hate her, but also not to give up on the Church forever or stop reading the Book of Mormon. We'll see how set she is about her decision, so I guess to be continued?
K and A are tough cookies. He believes that once saved always saved, that election happened before the world was but that there's nothing you can do about this election, it was simply because of God's grace (this would make God a respecter of persons, which is simply false doctrine). Today's plan is to go back to basics, and dish up a healthy dose of Restoration and, of course, the Spirit (not to be confused with the soda Sprite).
We had our finding caps on this week, and had a really great lesson yesterday with a young couple H and P. They had a million questions for us about the Church, and random doctrinal points; it seemed like they've had hell preached to them quite a bit, because they readily accepted the doctrine of the Spirit World as a much more sense-making alternative to their Baptist view. They seemed really open, so hopefully this week we'll get to see them progress further towards the truth!

Have a blessed day!
Sister Markle
P.S. While having dinner with the Stake President and his family (they live in our ward), I discovered that his daughter-in-law is cousins to a Hermana Uribe serving in Costa Rica/trio-training none other than Hermana Markle! It's a small Mormon world after all.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September 1, 2014

Dear Family,

It's been another really good busy week. Half-way through the week I realized a mission bucket list item of mine would be to get double-digit member-present lessons one week. On Saturday night I realized we were already at eight, and that now is the time to prepare to meet God. We had already scheduled with Bailey (who got her mission call this week to serve in the Utah, Provo mission, which I have since learned is our mission! She's going to BYU after her mission, and also has a lot of family there, which is crazy, but now it means I can stalk her, and return the favor for all the times she's taken us out teaching) to see some random Baptist dude we met while tracting Saturday. The appointment was set for 7:30PM so we figured we could squeeze in an extra appointment before it, and mission accomplished. It would've been all fine and dandy too, except when it came down to actually seeing Bob the Baptist (real name) and he wouldn't answer the door. Bum bum bum. Cue us trying some potentials at 8:00 at night, and finding no one home. I went out on a limb and had us try a part-member family I'd met once before, but who had bailed on their return appointment. Success. I can now rest easy until the next whim strikes. And strike it shall.

This week really was just an all around good week teaching wise, even with it being a transfer week. We got our seven hours tracting in (even if it meant three were done Saturday, one of which was in a torrential downpour of gatos y perros), and 21 lessons taught. Good week.

We finally up and finished the lessons with A (we may or may not have been drawing them out... Did I mention she could be baptized, what, three weeks ago? She wanted this month though, so this month it is. Agency :) We gave her a copy of Preach My Gospel and told her that she'll be teaching us now. Muaaaaah. Should be fun.

Have I even told y'all about C? WELL C is the younger sister of a member named A; A converted a few years back due to an LDS friend, but went to Korea last year to teach English and hasn't been back to church since (although this is lame, she does have a Korean accent now, which is pretty cool). C graduated from high school this year, and wants to strengthen her faith in Christ/ find a church, so we've been teaching her the past few weeks. This week was really great, we were randomly able to bring a bunch of members over, get her high school friend Amber S. involved teaching her, and also help C overcome her fears and come to church! She's still not too sure of this baptism thing yet, but is steadily progressing.

I don't think you sound like Grandma May, those were cool stories. Good work, Mom!

Lots o' Love,
Sister Markle
P.S. Last week the Elders may have left their door unlocked, so someone may have borrowed Larry the depository of years worth of Elder's holiday swag. Never leave your door unlocked, it's just asking for trouble.

Sister Newman and Sister Markle
Sister Newman, Amber, Sister Markle

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 26, 2014

Dear Family,
Transfers were today, and guess what! I've been transferred again! Psych. I'm dying in Monroe, and that's that :) No, but Sister Newman did leave me. She's going back to Mississippi to take the place of her kid Sister Forbes in Collins (near Hattiesburg). She's had her five transfers as an STL, so she was a little nervous but mostly excited for her next/last six months as a normal missionary again. Sister Parmenter is now in Monroe with me, which is really exciting because she was just companions with Sister Welch, and I'd kinda thought it'd be fun to be companions with her... God is good at granting wishes! Would you like some more exciting news? Well, if you insist. Sister Borja is now an STL on the coast, which makes me one proud grandma. She was in the middle of training a new missionary in Madison, but they swapped her out for the STL she was replacing, so her trainee/my great granddaughter is in good hands. Mission genealogy is still the weirdest thing.
This week has kinda been loco. Good and bad. We'll go with the bad news first. We got dropped by L, and we really only taught him that one lesson. He had to keep cancelling on us, and then told us that he was planning on giving us back our Book of Mormon and Restoration DVD at our next meeting. They were left in "pristine" (his words) condition (DVD still in wrapped state), so clearly he didn't get much use out of them any old ways. I'm not bitter. We determined that he got anti-ed by his family, but hopefully his next encounter with the Church will bring better results. Second bad news, but less totally bad was that Ann (from my cool story last week) had to cancel our appointment this week, and told us she'd "call us." This is typically Southern code for adios, but it's not a complete closed door so we'll see if we can weasel our way in again :)
Good news time! A finally set her date! She will be getting baptized on September 20, which is cool because we met her on July 20, and she set the date on August 20. Too cool. She was really really really really sad to see Sister Newman go (she's never had to deal with this transfer business, so kinda just figured we'd both be there for her baptism), but she's still going strong!
In other news of the good variety, we were biking in the hotty-hot-hades-hottness on Saturday to our tracting area, but then felt inspired to pull over and take a picture at a cool church sign. Why was this inspired you ask? Because it then led to us realizing that we were both impressed by the street before the aforementioned church, so we went back to go tract it. Two hours later, and we were sweat puddles, BUT there was a cool mid-twenties man who told us he'd had a lesson from Elders in Bossier like ten years ago, and ya would actually be interested in us coming back to teach him and his wife. We went back yesterday, and taught K and his wife A, and boy it was something. They're crazy smart, and really know their stuff. He had read the Restoration pamphlet, checked out mormon.org and lds.org, and then some mormon apologist site (never heard of it, but sounds like it covers deep doctrine so I don't think it's church sponsered). We asked if he had any questions, and boy did he ever. He was concerned over our doctrine of "where God once was we are now, and were God now is, we can be" except not the potential to be like Gods part, but that first part about the origin of God, and reconciling that with scriptures. Did I mention he has a degree in psychology, and is in a seminary school? He also had a question from 2 Nephi 25 about our understanding of grace. Wooooo Nelly. He set our return appointment, because he's "really searching for truth," and they should be coming to church on Sunday. They're cool, but it's been like never that I taught a tough cookie that knew their stuff. It'll be good stuff.

Love y'all bunches!
Sister Markle

Monday, August 18, 2014

August 18, 2014

Dear Family,
Looking back, I probably should have told you about the mission blog. That would've been a good idea. We're authorized to peruse it during email time, so while I don't frequent the site, I've known of it's existence/ utilized it to stalk other missionaries (it's hard to keep up with a mission that's so big, with no Facebook you see). Next time I leave y'all for an 18 month mission I'll be sure to direct you to all related sites :)
I went on exchanges with some old faces this week! We double-worked the Magnolia, Arkansas sister's area on Tuesday, and I was companions-for-the-day with the Canadian Sister Orth from my MTC district. We've been pen-pals since forever, so she's a good friend. Next up was El Dorado (pronounced El Door-aye-do because this is the South), Arkansas and I had the lovely opportunity of taking my MTC companion Sister Shallbetter back to Monroe to work with me. Our exchange was cut short by a random phone mishap (they were using our phone to transfer their old phone to their new phone, except their new phone somehow absorbed our phone number instead. Weird) that morning, and Ward Correlation that night, but even though it was short, it was sweet. It was nice to catch-up, and talk about how much she's grown over her mission. Missions are definitely good for that! Zone Conference was the next day so Magnolia spent the night with us, and Sister Newman was returned to me safe and sound the next day at the meeting (she had to wake up at 4:30 AM to come, so she really pulled the short straw).

Oh ya! Here's my rant for the week. On exchanges I challenged someone to create a family mission plan, and they laughed at us. Then told us their mission plan is to be an example. Not cool, man, not cool. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, thus the work of salvation won't hasten until we change it. Members and missionaries working together is the only way. Rant over.
Ready for the crazy awesome miracle story of the week? Prepare yourselves. It's a good one.
Even though we're technically dubbed the "Monroe Sisters" a more appropriate title for our area would be "Swartz and Stuff Sisters," because we have little or none of the actual city of Monroe. Swartz is right up snug next to Monroe, and is where we live, so it's basically Monroe's slightly more country conjoined twin. While our area isn't as ridiculously big as Greenville's, we still have a lot of country and random cities (Fun Fact: Tim McGraw was born in Start, LA which is in my area, and we visit a part member family that lives on the street that Tim McGraw St grows off of. Sad Fact: the Tim McGraw St sign got stole). Background information aside, on Friday this week we went out to Rayville (just past Start, 30 minutes from Monroe, like I said, nothing compared to Greenville standards, and yet neither of us had been out there to work) to visit less-actives, with a less-active from Rayville that showed up to church the past couple weeks in tow. Cause that's how we roll.
The last person we went to contact was Ann Marie J. From the roster we could tell that she and her husband were in their 30s and were both members. We drove up to the appropriate address, but the dude washing his car out front said that Ann Marie actually lives next door. We walked next door, and a 30-something woman with curly red hair came outside, so we asked if that was her name. She said yes, and let us in. We started to get to know her, AKA pump her for information. She was really interested as to how we knew her name, so we felt a little like the big time stalkers we are. She was super sweet though, and I wondered why she hadn't been contacted before. There was a big family picture on the wall (Mom, Dad, daughter, young son, new baby), and from what she was saying I began to wonder if their 12 year old daughter hadn't been baptized. Yet. Part-member-families are good stuff; the convert brings the incentive/fire to get them going, and the less-active brings the knowledge. Then things got weird. She asked us what denomination we were from, we cleared up polygamy, and she was really curious about random well-known missionary details, as well as prophets. Cue restoration lesson. For the whole lesson we sat there wondering if she was lying to us, had amnesia, or there had been a crazy mistake and someone with very limited knowledge about the church was mistakenly put on church records (weird stuff happens sometimes often). I kept thinking, "Do we invite her to be baptized, even though she's already a member?" We were really confused, but the Spirit was strong, so we just kept rolling with it. Ann Marie was really interested, and at the end told us she felt so special that we came to teach her these things. So weird. But so good. In my closing prayer I prayed for the J family, and after "Amen," she told us that she thinks we had the wrong family, because they are the Cs. HA! The Ann Marie we were looking for was a few houses away. Coincidence? I think not! Return appointment for this week, so I'll let you know how it goes :)

Love y'all bunches!
Sister Markle

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 11, 2014

Dear Family,
Miracle of the week: Once upon a time I've been praying for new investigators, so's when the ones we're currently working with get baptized we're not left high and dry. Cue three unexpected referrals this week from missionaries serving in our zone that met people for us. The coolest referral came in the form of an 18 year old freshly graduated kid. The West Monroe Sisters tracted into him while he was babysitting for his family, taught a "straight out of Preach My Gospel level first lesson," and committed him to a baptism date of September 20. The one problem? He actually lives with his older brother in Monroe. In our area. Holler! Funny thing is Sister Newman and her previous companion actually tracted into his older brother, and gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon. The sisters then happened to find out that one of the Bishop's daughters is friends with the brother directly younger than the brother we are teaching, and she began inviting him to church. He never came, and when we followed up with the eldest brother a few weeks ago, he gave us back the Book of Mormon and said he'd skimmed through a bit of it, then was going to throw it away, but didn't want to be disrespectful. Unbeknownst to any of us, the middle brother was being prepared! We were able to teach him on Saturday with a member, and L's super excited to keep learning. The elect are out there!
Sad story of the week: One of our sisters has been having back problems, and made the decision to go home to heal, then do her utmost to come back out. We got to be her unarmed escort to the airport in Jackson on Friday, which was really cool since Sister Benjamin is my sister! (She was trained by Sister Harker in Shreveport after Harker left Wake Village) I know I said this story is sad, but it was an adventure at the same time, so we were happy-sad to be involved. Sad she's hurting, happy she's going to get some rest, happy we got to have a roadtrip. Life is complicated.
Sister Benjamin's companion had the option of pulling a Sister Markle and chilling with the STLs until transfers, but for some reason didn't want to be a bother because we still have exchanges left to do. I had no problem being a bother, so that probably makes me selfish. Or something. INSTEAD we were able to take one of the Sisters from the Winnsboro trio, and plop her in Bastrup with the newly companionless companion. The funny thing is, Sister Cole (the sister taken from Winnsboro) was actually trained in Bastrup, and was companions with Sister Baker (the one that lost her companion to the back demon) in the MTC. Sister Cole had been receiving revelation this transfer that she wasn't needed anymore in Winnsboro, should be ET-ed, and thought it'd be nice to get to go to her old area with her old companion. What the. It would seem that Heavenly Father prepares his servants in more ways than the expected! Expect the unexpected.
Suffice it to say, Friday involved a lot of driving, so we figured what the hay, we'll just do exchanges with the leftover Winnsboro sisters while we were already at it. I brought Sister Dalebout to Monroe, and it was my first time exchanging in my own area. It was good stuff, especially since Sister Dalebout was one of the sisters I exchanged with when I chilled with the STLs after Mongie was consumed by the back demon. Life came full circle to the fullest.

Love y'all to infinity and beyond!
Sister Markle
Proof that I really did unpack - and, Katie & Kami's huge letters on my wall!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August 4, 2014

Dear Family,

I officially peaced out from my area for three days this week; exchanges with West Monroe Tuesday (sadly no Duck Dynasty sightings), and Mission Leadership Conference in Jackson Thursday and Friday. I guess it used to be called Zone Leader Conference until the sister-explosion gave birth to STLs which then lead to a name change for the monthly powwow. It was good stuff, but one of those mission things that you don't really understand unless you've experienced it. Essentially there's a bunch of opinionated missionaries that voice opinions on various policies; a few decisions are reached, and some get tabled for next month. The scripture discussion on preparedness, the other random doctrine tidbits, the musical number, and the departing missionary testimonies at the end were extra good stuff. President committed the leadership to various things, including experimenting with no music in the car for the next month. Luckily Sister Newman and I are both really bad at remembering to turn the stereo back on after prayers/ phone calls, so we've already got a head start on that one ;)

A1 and A2 are both doing well. A2 and her husband have been crazy sick this week, so we couldn't teach them, but they still made it to church :) They both have hulk-status testimonies of the gospel, but there's always the bitter to balance out the sweet, so hopefully they can overcome their health problems. A1 has been really excited about all the changes she's been noticing in her life since we've started teaching her; yesterday she told us she's even stopped swearing, which we never knew was a problem of hers, but by increasing her faith through daily prayer and scripture study, the spirit simply helped her make those changes on her own. They also watched a session of conference (Sister O gets all the DVDS, speaking of Sister O I forgot to mention last week, but she's actually in Utah due to the birth of a grandchild, so she was really only there for the first two lessons. I guess we've only taught them five times, but A1 made crazy progress over the past couple weeks, so it feels like more), and she loved Uchtdorf's talk "Come Join With Us." She said it felt like he was speaking directly to her. Easiest investigator? Elect. She could be baptized this weekend if she really wanted to, but her Mom is planning on coming in town from Texas around her birthday, so our ballpark is mid August. We may have to get creative with things to teach her... Good thing the missionary department has us teach all five lessons before baptism now, so we don't have to get TOO creative ;)

Due to them being out of town for a music camp, this week I finally met the Relief Society President and her first counselor. Scratch that last title and insert "my other ward mission leader." Haha they're best friends, and really funny/ intense about their callings. The first counselor was put in charge of missionary work for the Relief Society, so we had a correlation of sorts with her over lunch Saturday. It was really hard core, and hilarious. They have a theory that if someone has been offended by something small, then they probably can be bought by something small, so they deliver a lot of brownies. When we left I told Sister Newman that I'd be scared if women had the priesthood, because I think we just got a glimpse of what it might be like.

We had a really awesome lesson with a less-active couple this week. He converted in the 90s, and is an Elder, but fell away, then married his wife around 2007, and started coming back a bit, and she got baptized, and then they both fell away. Brother P has a testimony of the church and the difference it's made in his life, but they're currently active in a Baptist church, so he feels conflicted. Sister P seemed anti at first the Sisters said, but has since sat in on lessons with us, and really seems to like us, even though her testimony is still questionable. We were able to answer a lot of really good questions from Brother P (he'd forgotten a lot of doctrine over the years), and we helped him understand the importance of weekly partaking of the sacrament blessed by priesthood authority. The Spirit was there, and at the end of the lesson he said, "I feel like I've asked y'all this question before, with my wife even sitting to this side of me," (their furniture had just been rearranged, so he was describing deja-vu) "but I went through a back-sliding state, so how would I get back in church?" So cool. His wife is still a fan of their new church, but they're making big steps :) When we left I told Sister Newman that missionaries in foreign countries utilize the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues, but sometimes in the South I feel like I'm using the spiritual gift of speaking in Baptist. Ya. Sometimes I think I'm funny. Except it's also true, I'm getting fluent in Baptist.

Love y'all oodles and boodles and zoodles!
Sister Markle

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014

Hola Familia!

La iglesia de JesuChristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias es verdadero! See? I speak Spanish too, therefore I'm still the coolest Sister Markle. End of story.

We went on exchanges with the Ruston Sisters this week, and because I'm still the area newb, I got to stay in Ruston while Sister Newman took one of the sisters back with her. Ruston felt a lot like Greenville, except the Sister's area was much more comparable to the Greenville Elder's area than it was to mine. AKA it was ghetto as all get out. They're in a car share, but due to a popped tire, we walked around all day in the sweaty-melty-death heat. It really was lots of fun, I promise, but I just like painting a picture, so you'll have to bear with me ;) We were able to teach a young mom the restoration, commit her to a baptism and all that good stuff, but the best part of the lesson was the end when she prayed for the first time. The best feeling, definitely worth ignoring the two year old yanking on my hair; kids lately have been obsessed with "doing" my hair for me, which involves "messing" my hair for me. Eh. Whatever keeps them entertained!


Monroe has lots of random Bayou patches which are mysterious-spooky-beauties. Very surreal to drive past them, so that's one thing I don't think I'll get used to! We were fed a whole bunch this week (like, sometimes a couple times a day), and so we got a nice slice of Southern cuisine. Ate tater tot casserole, fried alligator, shrimp ettoufaite, and jumbolaya for the first time this week. Good stuff. I'm very blessed to have a high metabolism, otherwise y'all would have to roll me home (Willy Wonka style) come November.


A is still doing so well! This week we were able to teach the family two more times, and Bishop even invited them over to his house for dinner with all the missionaries. She has read 3 Nephi 11-13, 1 Nephi 1-15, the Restoration pamphlet, the Plan of Salvation pamphlet, they watched their own copy of the Restoration movie (as well as the Best Two Years...), and she's been to church two weeks in a row now. Did I mention she's never been baptized? Part member families are where it's at. She told us she plans on being baptized, but is still praying about a date, because she doesn't want to rush into it too fast. Their family is seriously the coolest, and is so fun to teach :) The other sibling's non-member spouse is still acting uninterested-but-interested, so we're praying that he sits in on the lesson, and has a change of heart. Anything's possible!


Other A's baptism is going to be moved back a few weeks, because she's still struggling with smoking. Her health also hasn't been the best lately, which makes it tricky to be able to teach her, but she's just all around awesome, so she'll make it to baptism soon :)


We had interviews with President McDonough this past week, and MLC this next week, then Zone Conference in a couple weeks, so we sure do get to see him lots! MLC is in Jackson and will be from Thursday to Friday, so if next week's email is extra boring, that's why.


Love y'all!
Sister Markle

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21, 2014

Dear Family,

So funny story. STLs (Sister Training Leaders) have unlimited miles, and a beautiful new car. We also get some extra money on our BOA cards each month, cause we travel. It's kind of ridiculous. Silly STLs.

Other than the silly perks of being here, Monroe is awesome. Not to jump the gun or anything, but this might be the part of my mission I've been waiting for; we've already seen miracles, and it feels like there's more to come.
-First up is A. The sisters started teaching her last transfer, and she is mega prepared. She married a member a few weeks ago, read the entire Book of Mormon in like two months, and is currently halfway through the Doctrine and Covenants. She's super sweet, and is working towards a baptismal date of August 2, but has to overcome smoking first. She's leery of starting our Stop Smoking Workshop, and told us she wanted to give fasting on Sunday and prayer one more shot first. If that didn't kick the habit, then we'll do the workshop and possibly readjust her baptismal date this week. They live just over twenty miles away from us in the country, and are actually technically in the West Monroe ward boundaries, but have permission to come here, because it's where her husband joined the church. We're working on getting her name in the temple, so hopefully she'll be able to quit smoking soon!
-The week before I got here the sisters started teaching a young couple named CJ and Sha (pronounced "Shay" real name is "Shaquarius"). They were a referral from a long-time investigator (she knows the church is true, but is stuck living with some dude, until she can move her and her three kids to some other state), and came to church the Sunday before I got here. Due to their work schedules our appointment got cancelled this week, BUT they randomly called us on Saturday and told us they were in Ruston looking for the Stake Pioneer Day activity. Say whaaat?! So even though we couldn't teach them, and they couldn't come to church this week, they got to fellowship with members for a few hours. The Elders told us they're going to make great members, so I'm pumped to meet them this week.
-There's a couple other investigators, but we only met with them once this week, so I'll let you know when I know more about them. Yesterday we had the coolest experience though. We had called a ward member that lives in our area, and set up a time Sunday afternoon to go by and get to know her better. Sister O was really sweet, but what started out as "get to know your members" ended up as "teach the whole family two-less-active-children-with-nonmember-spouses included." Such a great lesson, it flowed effortlessly from get to know you, to Mom's conversion story, to a restoration lesson. Not too forced, not too casual, but it was a Goldilocks lesson all the way. Sister O's son had actually brought his wife of two weeks (named A, but different A from earlier in the email because the letters that follow the As are different making them entirely different people), to church for the first time yesterday and they stayed for all three hours. The final hour was taught by one of the counselors in the Mission Presidency, and it was all about answering common questions about the church. A said it was weird, but she had all her questions answered. She readily accepted our invitations to learn more, to pray about what we taught, and to read from the Book of Mormon, and we have a return meal/dinner appointment set for this Wednesday. Happy happy day. It was an awesome lesson, but even awesome lessons include a few laughs. Sister O was talking about how the native Americans have Jewish descent (Lamanite blood), and her daughter shouted to her husband (he was standing in the doorway trying to not be a part of the lesson while still being a part of the lesson) that he was actually a Jew since he's half Cherokee. He said, "I'm Baptist," and then she said she thought he was non-denominational, and he said he was both. You probably had to be there. Later the daughter said that even Christopher Columbus is in the Book of Mormon, and A got the funniest look on her face, so we had to assure her that there wasn't a Book of Columbus. The best feeling ever came when Sister O texted last night and said, "Perfect timing sisters!! Thank you so much for coming today. Just the fact they listened and were interested is an answer to my prayers!" So humbling.

As per request, here's the skinny on Sister Newman, the new companion. She's from a small town in Idaho called Monteview, and went to Utah State for two semesters before coming out last July. She runs. She was trained in Greenville, so we sometimes accidentally stay up late reminiscing on the ghetto. Any more questions?

Love y'all!
Sister Markle
Me with C+C

Our apartment complex in Greenville!

Living out of suitcase at new apartment in Louisiana!

L and I :)

July 15, 2014

Family,
I don't even know what to say about this week. Whirlwind. Funny story first. This lady came up to me in the produce aisle of Walmart last week, and told me that I was such a "pretty little girl" and that she was going to "steal me from my mom"--after tanning me up on the beach first of course. I told her that I'd turn red, not black, so her plan might not work out. She noticed my badge and then told me that she knows Jesus too, but she doesn't call him Jesus Christ because if you read in the bible people don't have last names. And people wonder why I generally avoid the produce aisle.
Church yesterday was awesome. I had the lovely opportunity to give a talk (third time in this ward :), and out of the blue a random family showed up to church! A really nice young mom with her four kids live just down the road from the church, and she said she'd been wanting to visit. During Gospel Principles we helped her understand the Holy Ghost better, and got her information to teach her later this week! Random miracles are the best. Sister Creager and I then taught Young Womens about baptism and taking the Lord's name upon us, and it was loads of fun. Another random miracle story happened on Saturday. We had just stopped at Wendy's to use the loo, then decided we'd run over to an active-ish family right after. We had planned to possibly try them later that evening, but we decided to just head over there. We showed up, they let us in, and they had a 20-something family friend chilling with them, that we introduced ourselves to. After a little chit-chat he had to go. Come to find out they had JUST been talking about the missionaries with him, he wanted to meet some, and they told him to just come over next time the missionaries came. Then we knocked on their door. Say whaaat. He hopefully will become an investigator this week.

We may have set four people with baptismal dates this week, which was cool. Sad thing is those that accept baptismal dates are the ones that either disappear or you can only maintain semi-contact with. Those that are date-resistant are those that stick. Even though all our return appointments with these people fell through, they were really cool, so if the sisters can get back in contact with them it'll be good stuff. I got transferred today by the way! Say what! Sister Creager is now training and I got moved to Monroe to be an STL (Sister Training Leader). Operation take over the world is a go. Duck Dynasty is WEST Monroe (which is different from normal Monroe), so I'm not in their exact neck of the woods, but pretty darn close. New Companion is Sister Newman who was actually trained in Greenville by Sister Cottrell! (my Oak Grove housemate) She's great, and we're going to have lots of fun obviously. I don't know if y'all have heard of Sister Training Leaders before, but I think the closest equivalent would be Zone Leaders, except without people accounting for numbers to us. We go to Missionary Leadership Conference every six weeks, and on exchanges with the six sets of sisters we cover! I'm way excited. It'll be like that little taste I got when Sister Mongie went home early, and I road-tripped with the STLs, except legit now. I'll probably die in Monroe, which is weeeeeeird. I've officially served in all four states my mission covers! Louisiana was all I was missing, so I have officially completed my collection :)

3980 Old Sterlington Rd.
Apt. 1101
Monroe, LA 71203

My SD card filled with goodbye pictures is back in the apartment, and I can't even send any that are on this card, because the computers at the library are snail today. Look forward to more to come! But probably only if someone straps these computers to the back of a cheetah, otherwise I will throw in the towel completely. Maybe not. We'll see.

Love y'all oodles and boodles!
Sister Markle
P.S. CC is a missionary. So weird.
P.P.S. My package of clothes was good stuff, and you know it. Some were winter clothes I didn't have room to lug around, a few things I wanted but not for mission, and the rest I'm pretty sure were just straight up for Katie and Kami. Probably should have used labels... but I figured it wouldn't make a difference to them ;)

July 7, 2014

Dear Momma,
Thanks so much for the package! We had just pulled up to the apartment's mail center last Monday, when I remembered that I'd forgotten to remind you about a new journal. I was all like "Nooooooo, now it'll be forever, since CC's leaving next week, and I'll be forgotten, boohoo boohoo whiney whiney waa." Sister Creager then came back from the mailbox with my package in tow. Speak of the package and the package shall appear! Thanks again, you're the best :)
Holy canole, it looks like nose surgery is all the rage now. This is the last week of the transfer, so I'll be finding out on Saturday if I'm staying for another six weeks, or packing my bags, and getting voted off the island. I think it could go either way at this point; I've already been here six months, so generally that means bye-bye, but they're leaving people in areas longer, so who knows. Plus there's still some details to work out about Operation Cleveland, so maybe they'll leave me another transfer until it's in full swing. IDK. I will be sending home a big ole box of clothes 'n things today, just in casies.
This week was a whole bunch weirder than I was expecting; sure it was a holiday, but I didn't think it would make too much difference. Cue families in town, families out of town, and people asking us to wait until next week to come. Lame sauce. We still were able to see some people though! A is going to be in Chicago the next few weeks, but when we saw her on Saturday she said that she's come to her decision, it's just moving forward, you can't just keep worshiping the wrong way, etc. which we interpret to mean she wants to be baptized. Yay! L is really close too, but the other secretary for her church is gone for all of July, so she won't be able to come again until next month, but we're going to try setting her with a baptismal date again this week. C+C are still doing really great too, but since marriage has to come first, and green card has to come first first, it'll still be a while. Patience is a virtue! The past five baptisms in the ward are all inactive for various reasons, so really our long works in progress are for the best. We all love the stories of finding the people that are prepared right then and there, and get baptized three weeks later, but even though those people are out there, generally speaking missionary work is more of a waiting game. Good things come to those who wait (and work), so no complaints :)
We had two run-ins with cockroaches in the bathroom this week. By "we" I mean Sister Creager had two run-ins, and that I was spared lest I have a heart-attack and die. I hate all bugs, but cockroaches are the spawn of Satan. In other crawly things news, I ate mud-bugs (AKA crawfish) for the very first time on the 4th. They were actually really tasty. I also ate shrimp for the very first time on the 4th. They were also actually really tasty. When people say that you change on your mission, they don't lie. I still don't like fruit.
Even more crawly news: I held a baby skunk. It was cute.
Other news: Operation Cleveland. Here's the scoop. I serve in Greenville, but our area is gigantor-rama-sauce. There's around fifty or fewer at church each week (we may or may not be a ward that is actually a branch), but a lot of the active families live out in Cleveland which is a city about 45 minutes to our north (we may or may not have only four ish active families in Greenville). Operation Cleveland involves us getting permission to drive back to Cleveland with a family that drives down for YW's each week, and then stay the night with a different family, and then go on visits with other members Thursday, and then get brought back home Thursday evening. Lots of member coordinating, but we think it'll be worth it, as it'll equal a whole lot more members involved in the work. We made a rather pretty poster to keep track of all the details, and wanted to implement the plan this week, but probably won't be able to until next week. I'll keep you posted :) unless of course, I get transferred. Who's to say!
I'm so excited for CC!!!! It doesn't seem real that she's leaving, so you'll have to send pictures at the MTC to prove it. Otherwise I'll just keep thinking it's a really elaborate prank. I wouldn't put it past y'all. On second thought, it'll probably take a few pictures from in the field before I'll fully believe. Seeing is believing when it comes to Markles. Bunch of punks.

Love y'all!
Sister Markle

June 30, 2014

Dear Family,
This week has been so absolutely absurd. The Bishop here likes to say, "Sometimes we just have to laugh to keep from crying," a lot, which is very true of life here in the Mississippi Delta. The weirdest, craziest things happen, and all you can do is laugh. Here's the highlights:

Last Monday we had an M 'n M night at the church (Milkshakes and Movie), which was a little activity we threw together with the ward mission leader. We had a really good turn out (a few different member families, and a couple of our investigators), and it ended up being lots of fun. Sister Creager and I were in charge of the lesson/movie portion of the FHE, so of course that's where the hitch came into play. The twenty minute clip we were trying to play refused to let us play it; the dvd would not skip to that part of the disk, unless it first decided to change languages on us. Ridiculous. We ended up watching a different clip, which was good too, just less attention-grabbing. If something can go wrong, it usually does :)

We went to watch the Restoration movie with JaJa this week, and two minutes into the movie the popo shut us down. While we didn't calculate just how long she spent outside talking to the cop, our best guesstimate based off of the timetable is right around half an hour. We were trapped, wondering what on Earth was going on for half an hour. The good news? When she did make it back inside, we were able to finish our film and invite her to be baptized. The police may shut us down temporarily, but no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing! (the other good news was that he was there for her sister, not her :)

L and A are both still doing really well. About a month ago we gave L a copy of the Blueprint of Christ's Church devotional by Tad R. Callister, and she's a really thorough studier, so the past few times when we go over we answer her questions from the talk before whatever we had planned to teach. Last week it was about eternal marriage, this week baptisms for the dead. It was really cool, when we read from 1 Corinthians 15:29, she said she remembered wondered about that verse years before, but none of her Bible study guides mentioned anything about it, so her question was never answered until now. Essentially L knows it's all true, her hold-up is just F, and finding a way to move forward while still staying true to the vows she took to care for F at marriage. She's a really cool lady, our dear L. A went to FHE with the Elders at a members home on Friday, where our district leader grilled her with the baptismal interview questions. By the end he was stunned, and asked her why she wasn't asking for baptism. A told him that she's in the flesh, and the Lord is still working with her. L and A are the L-iest and A-iest, so the only one who really knows how to move forward is the Lord. Their time will come!
Contacted a media referral who requested a bible out in Cleveland this week. Sometimes I really worry about people. This lady meditates in graveyards, wherein she frequently gets mistaken for a corpse, and jumps out of trees at people. Yes, sometimes I worry about people.

On Friday we had to phone a friend (AKA Amy Turley) for help, because Sister Creager's back tire popped. Ended up locking our bikes to a random tree, and after fixing the bike met the owner of said tree. We were barely in the Elders area, so they ended up with a really cool referral. Perhaps that wheel was destined to pop, we shall see!

Other cool and not so cool stuff happened this week, but by email time my brain gets wiped clean. So that's all folks!

Love you lots!
Sister Markle