Thursday, January 30, 2014

Monday, January 27 2014

Dear Family,

Exchanges were so so fun this week. It was like when I went on exchanges in Oak Grove for the first time: all the fun of missionary work, without any of the stress. You get to make new friends, see the old, teach awesome people that you don't have to worry about, all around best. I've determined that everyone in the city of Biloxi is elect. Everyone. Alright, not everyone, but there are lots of good things happening there, and we even found an awesome lady named Naomi. She let us right on in, and we taught the first lesson, which answered this huge question about the true nature of God, and whether she was correct in praying to the eternal Father, and closing in the name of Jesus Christ. She was super sweet, and when she prayed at the end of the lesson it was purely gratitude.

Ocean Springs was insanely ridiculously cold chill you to the bone sauce. I was a little bummed because the other sisters were going to go see Haley (the 13 year old that Mongie and I taught a bit), but we ended up teaching their investigators that they found two weeks ago that are being baptized in two weeks which was really cool. The lesson was a follow-up on the kingdoms of glory; apparently they were facing a lot of opposition from friends and family and just wanted to make sure that they fully knew everything, so that they could defend it. They had the cutest term for the opposition, they called it "getting Joseph Smith-ed." Ah. So fun.

I didn't get my transfer call until Friday evening, but at that point I already knew I'd be leaving. I had been carrying a last little flame of hope that I'd stay, but that morning Elder Edwards (the "Fleet Coordinator" aka senior missionary in charge of cars) called me and asked me where my car was so that they could take it, and shuffle it to were it needed to be on transfers. I mighta cried a little. I had figured they would move the STLs if there wasn't another STL area opening (they currently have to do 15 exchanges each transfer, so are hardly ever in our area to work), but I knew if the other area opened I'd be long gone. OG just aint big enough for the six of us (that number includes the ZLs). By the time my actual transfer call came, I already knew I was leaving and had kind of guessed where I'd be going, since both Sister Johnson and Sister Cottrell told me that they loved working there and that there is always plenty to do. Greenville Mississippi here I come! My new companion is Sister Welch who used to be in Hattiesburg, so I've met her in passing before. She's nice and really tall. That's all I know. There isn't any more.

Also, by way of crazy news, due to bad weather transfers won't be until Thursday this week. Say whaaaaaat. We got a call this afternoon that Elder Edwards was coming at 4:00 to pick up Sister Johnson (she just finished out her mission), instead of her leaving during transfers tomorrow since there wasn't going to be a tomorrow anymore. It was good news for me since I hadn't started packing yet, but bad news for her since we had to send her off in a mad dash. Basically life in general will be shut down tomorrow; schools are closed, library will be closed, etc. No word yet on whether this is just an overreaction on the part of the South due to a few snowflakes, or if it's legit. Keep you posted.

Now on to your questions:
-I did not get a new companion yet, I'm still with Sister Cottrell.
-Mongie served for just over a year, and will come back if they figure out her back and she's sure that her coming back out won't bring back all the old problems
-I actually am sick, but the instacare charge was unrelated. Healthcare Express has been dogging me for a co-pay that they didn't make me pay until I got a letter forever and a half later saying it was overdue, at which point it was already to the maximum late fee, thus I forgot to pay it as it didn't matter when I payed it now. Payed it Friday because Sister McDonough texted to remind me.
-The current sickness is probably just a persistent cold. Woke up last Monday with a sore throat, and over the week developed sinus pressure, a runny nose, and a cough. Drinking plenty of water and that Vitamin C stuff, so I'm not too worried about it, and neither should you be.
-Thank you so much for the package! I got it Saturday when we got back, and wore the skirt to church because it was my last Sunday there. Perfect timing on your part. Very considerate.
-Old companions have not received their visas yet, but two different sisters did last week, so it seems like it's speeding up.

I'm excited for change, but I will for sure miss it here. I've learned lots, and just wish that I could have helped the area more. I did my best though, and saw plenty of miracles, even though they weren't in the ways I was expecting. Look out Greenville, here I come! In three days!

Love y'all!
Sister Markle

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dear family,

Sister Mongie flew home yesterday morning, which was quite sad. They picked her up Sunday after church, and whisked her off to the mission home, where she was never seen again. May her soul rest in peace.

This is the last week before transfers, so until then I am an STL-groupie. What does this entail? Road-trip. We're going down to the coast so they can do exchanges with two of the sister sets there. 'Twill be fun.

With Mongie leaving, this past week had a lot of ups and downs:
-After about two goodbyes, they were deemed too terrible, and were all saved for church.
-Mongie decided to take her cushy mattress topper home, which meant that her suitcases received an extra beating as we sat on them, and forced them to keep eating more clothes. How many suits can a suitcase case? The world may never know.
-We tried to do one extra fun thing a day. The two I can remember off the top of my head are that the young couple from my previous email took us out to dinner. In their humvee. Cue very hilarious off-roading experience at night, as the driver tried really hard to not make it too bumpy for Mongie's back. The other fun thing we did was prank the Zone Leaders. In the middle of a depressing evening of packing we had a light-bulb moment that she needed to go out in style. It took about five minutes to come up with all our ideas, and then only like twenty to enact them. Lesson learned. Always lock your deadbolt, otherwise you will be pranked. (Disclaimer: we didn't do anything harmful, just annoying. Like their loaf of bread was turned into a loaf of pb+j sandwiches. We're harmless, really).
-Our investigator Brittney came to church! (we still taught people this week, honest) She is super sweet, and I'm really excited for her. I hope I get to stay in this area, so I can continue to help her progress, but I know that even if I get moved, she'll be in good hands (buuut I'd still rather stay ;)
-Remember the part-member family I talked about like two emails ago? I think I mentioned them briefly, because we drove with Sis Van Akin an hour and a half to take Haley (older daughter of part member family) back home to her dad and step-mom. Two-fold good news on this family's account. L the mom here is less-active, but this week she was talking to us about this big study she was doing about how the Book of Mormon and the Bible support each other. It was completely out of the blue, and looking at her list of references I thought a missionary had given them to her. She's awesome. L also gave us an update about Haley! Haley has had two lessons so far, and is crazy pumped about what she's been learning. Like, post about what she's learning on facebook for all her friends to see, crazy pumped. Such a sweetie. We're actually going on exchanges with the sisters that are teaching her this week, so I'll pump them for more information :)
-It seems like eeeeveryone is going through crazy trials as of late. It's nuts.

As much as I'd love to show familial support by joining in on the 50 mile birthday bike ride, I fear I cannot. Your birthday lands on a Saturday, and it probably wouldn't be wise use of the Lord's time to do so. I hope you understand. It's not like I can even use a P-day to join in a little early or late either, because if I were to try, my legs would probably break from just thinking about it. It's really just too bad.

Love ya bunches!
Sister Markle

P.S. If CC wants to brag about her career success, or lack of dating life, tell her she can do so first-hand. There's this new rule where she's allowed to email me. Say whaaaaaaaat.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Dear Family,

No worries Madre, I was just worried that the internet gnomes in the email sort facility, had a vendetta against us again, but I fear I judged too soon. Sorry gnomes. Forgive me. Your sickness sounds really terrible though, I'm glad you're feeling better!
Stop listening to CC. She is bossy. Never forget this. If you were planning on going to the ER, she would have made you stay home, but because you were planning on staying, she made you go. She is a tricky one. This is probably because she is part Leprechaun. Excuse me. Part Leprechauneshkachaun.

I don't think I ever heard about brother-of-the-cloak, but he sounds like a winner. Katie has my wholehearted support should she wish to run away and elope.

I'm glad you guys got the gun picture! The gun belongs to a young couple (who shall remain anonymous) who are the fellowshippers for the STL's investigator. Since they're out of town a lot, we teach their people (and by people, I mean just him) while they are gone. Normally the young husband impresses missionaries with rides in his Humvee, but that night we just got to hold the gun. We've visited the husband's dad and step-mom, and it was the most country experience of my whole life. They have a herd of dogs; we ate the most delicious buttery food out of cast iron skillets; he has tons of glass jars filled with food and literally hundreds of guns (Mongie informed me that they are preparing for the zombie apocalypse); they had a man in their living room that I'm convinced they didn't know, and simply found at a truck stop; and we ended our evening bottle-feeding their baby cow, by the light of a flashlight. So fun. The sisters that were here before us have an insane story about driving with the young couple out to the army base in the rain, the car getting stuck in the mud, and the young husband walking onto the army base and driving a Humvee off the base to get the car out of the mud. Apparently his dad was a sniper, then a cop, and now they own the military (at least in their eyes). Country life is the way to go. Anyways, the  MK47 was hanging from their bathroom door within reach of their bed, "just in case." He has the most long-suffering wife. Sorry the picture didn't look very menacing, the gun was really heavy, and we didn't have time to adjust the size, so it was pretty awkward to hold. Next random gun picture will surely be more intense looking, I promise.

This week has been both really short and really long. All our investigators are kind of on ice, not necessarily "dropped," but for one reason or another aren't progressing right now. Plus Sister Mongie may or may not have to go home for medical reasons. It's pretty up in the air at this point. None of the many people she has seen for her back have given a definitive diagnosis, so at this point she either has to go in for an MRI, just keep swimming, or go home. Some days she feels fine, other days not so fine. Next transfer the two sets of sisters in Oak Grove may or may not be "and then there were one"-ing (aka the work is slow here, and President is thinking about pulling one of the sets). Whether that set will be us, or the STL's, I know not. All the variables of mission life have never felt so indefinite (comp's health, area boundaries, investigators, whether or not I'll be in Oak Grove next transfer, whether or not Mongie will be in the mission next transfer, etc.), but no worries. Things'll work out for the best, and if not the best right away, then they'll work out for good, then better, then best. Maybe they'll work out for bad. Then eventually good. Who knows. God knows. Hakuna matata.

Love y'all!
Sister Markle

P.S. I can never decide what information is "too much information," you know? Some emails I try to be very delicate, and sidestep some landmines by only giving you bites of the sandwich at a time. Other days I figure I might as well just give you the whole sandwich. If you have preferences, just let me know ;)

Monday January 6, 2014

Dear family,

Sorry - a very brief email this week . . . .

Life is good. Life is cold. This week was kind of uneventful, although we did drive with our 12 year old investigator Haley to Wiggins and back (two and a half hour round trip) yesterday. She's the older daughter of a part member family we've been working with, who was in town for the holidays, and was really interested in the Church. She's a cutie, but the sisters down in Ocean Springs will be taking it from here ;)

Lots of people are sick here right now. That's not fun. The work has kind of been slow as a result. Also because of the holidays. Boo. Looking forward to the promise of a brighter, more productive tomorrow.

Love y'all!
Sister Markle

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Monday, December 30, 2013

Dear Family,

It was so good to talk to all of you! Looking back I don't think we talked about much of anything, there was just a whole bunch of silliness. Same ole, same ole; some things never change ;)

Mom, I am not dying of maaaalaaaaria (read in a Count Olaf voice). My tummy troubles are long gone, and my weird looking throat is not nearly as weird looking as it was before. Promise. I haven't even bothered to look at it in the past who knows how long, so it may very well look normal. Maybe I'm just thinner because I remember back to the days when we'd look at the pictures sent home from a certain someone's mission, and the things that were said... hahaha I'm just kidding, no things were said, but the principle remains. Just think of it as God's way of counterbalancing the weight I am sure to gain the longer I stay in Butter Country.

I know I already told y'all these stories, but I figure they sound more exciting when typed.

I now know what everyone has been talking about with the whole "people are more open to talking about Christ during the Christmas season" thing. Heretofore I had yet to see this magical effect take place; I figured it was one of those nice things we said to motivate ourselves to keep going despite the cold and lack of family. Come to find out it's actually true. Who knew.

Christmas Eve we had lined up to share the Nativity with a family we had carol-ed into. At our follow-up visit after the carol-ing we found out that we had sung to the family two days after their grandfather/father had died, and had been able to catch all of them which is apparently abnormal. They were really grateful, and said we could come Christmas Eve to share the Nativity with their family, and extended family. We called Christmas Eve to confirm only to find out that some intense family things were going down, and that they'd rather we came over on Christmas, where we would catch even more of their extended family. While this was good news for the next day, it took away the magic of going out and working on Christmas Eve. That morning during comp study we had prayed specifically about some streets we could go and tract on; the comp and I both wrote down 15 streets we felt good about, compared the streets, then wrote down the streets that we had both felt good about. We went out to one of the streets and found a really adorable looking neighborhood that we'd never been to before. Lots of families. One of the ladies we met invited us to come back in a couple hours to share the Nativity while the rest of her family was there. When we came back her whooole family was there for their Christmas party. She welcomed us right in. We ate, we laughed, we shared the Nativity, we left a good impression. The grandparents, and uncle had already had really positive interactions with missionaries before, and even though they still weren't asking for more, the Lord is continuing to prepare those in this area to receive His message.

Now to the next Christmas party we crashed. The previously mentioned family we carol-ed into. They let us in. They gathered the family. We shared the Nativity. The Spirit was strong. There were tears. We bore witness of our message. We left two more copies of the Book of Mormon, and found that the brother of the woman we originally met was open to hearing more. It was a very merry Christmas.

Love you all oodles and boodles!
Sister Markle

Monday, December 23 2013

Dear Family,

No package yet, but I'm pretty sure it takes four days for them to get here so if you sent it last Wednesday then it should be here tomorrow? Also no problem on the swants; our district leader got permission for a breakfast/present-opening/pajama-wearing/group-studies for Christmas morning, and I wanted us to wear swants to it, but we will make due with our less cool regular garb.

I have absolutely no preference on FaceTime versus Skype, but Brandon probably does, so just ask him then let me know. Email me account information (which user to call, and the password for whichever one I'm logging into) whichever route you take, and I'll check my email just before calling, so I can get it set up. We're going to call 4:00 our time, 3:00 your time. Hopefully that gives you enough time to have Christmas morning, post-Christmas-morning hangover (AKA nap time), and make the drive.

For Christmas we've been offering our services as Santa's elves (official present wrappers) to ladies in the ward, and we actually had three takers. Saturday we wrapped a bunch of gifts for the family that I used to live behind when I was a Purvis sister (the Purvis sisters live in the 'apartment behind the house' of a family who's in the other ward... awkward). She had a laundry basket filled with gifts for her two kids, and a second laundry basket from her mother-in-law. Tomorrow morning we're wrapping gifts for the people we're going to skype/facetime at, and then tomorrow evening we're wrapping for another family. It's a fun way to keep busy!

Yesterday we followed up with a family that we caroled at with the herd of boys, and it was super cool. It turns out that there was a death in the family two days previous, and they said they were so grateful when we sang for them, and some of them cried. They invited us to come over tomorrow evening to share the Christmas story when they have a bunch of family over. We're stoked. Best missionary opportunity. It turns out that Buddy the Elf speaks the truth, the best way to spread Christmas cheer truly is singing aloud for all to hear ;)

Funny story of the week: We knock on this door--you know, the usual gig--next thing we know, the door flies open and a man lunges at us with a pair of cooking tongs. We assumed "deer in the headlights" position. The man then got all awkward, and said he thought we were his wife. We confirmed the fact that we were not his wife, then went on our merry way. The end.

I'm so excited to see y'all! Merry Christmas!

-Sister Markle