Friday, June 27, 2014

June 23, 2014

Dear Family,
I think I forgot to mention it, but a couple weeks ago at interviews the Elders had their car jacked by the man. Technically speaking this would put us in a car share, but due to various reasons (dislike of driving, easier to meet people in the ghetto on bikes, didn't want to have to worry about media referrals to far out towns, and probably chivalry or something) the Elders decided to go full-time bike instead. Sister Creager has been in car shares her whole mission, and I spent like a whole two weeks in a car share that one time, so clearly we liked this plan :) Unforeseen consequence: our car ended up having to go to Jackson twice, Greenwood twice, and has to make the church/groceries trek twice each P-day now. The result? Two sets of essentially full time sweaty--I mean bike--missionaries until the end of the month. Dad would be so proud.
Dramatics aside, I really do like riding the old two wheeled contraption. We've been busier than ever, and being on bikes just makes it feel even more apparent. Plus, the majority of our lunch and dinner hours are now spent playing dead on the floor while we try to air out our sweat-drenched selves.

Some cool stories from the week:
-During the closing prayer to a lesson, a lady prayed for us to have no trials in life, but if we did, that we'd have the hind-feet of deer so we could jump over them. She may have also spoken in tongues. Good times.
-Taught a lesson yesterday to a chorus of "mmmmhmmm"s and "fo sho"s. When people like us, they really like us.
-Picked up another young mom as an investigator this week. Her name is JaJa, and she actually investigated the church when she was 16. It was her daughter's 6th birthday on Saturday, so we scavenged our apartment for an appropriate gift, which I carried in my bike basket. So handy that bike basket of mine (remember like a year ago, when my emails were full of pleading for my bike basket to be sent to me? This is why). Anyways her daughter's name is Peaches. Mom, if you aren't afraid by now of what your future grand-children's names will be, you best be. The South is contagious.
-On Thursday we were totally led to exactly who we needed to see. We had 20 minutes before the RS activity, so figured we'd hop in the car, and tract the apartments we had planned to the night before. When I got to our complex's exit, instead of making the needed left turn, I felt right instead. We went right, and were then faced with another left or right option of complexes. Neither stood out, so I made Sister Creager pick really fast. Left! We ended up in front of building 12, which we decided was appropriate due to the 12 Apostles and 12 tribes of Israel. First door we knock let us in right away, and we met J, who had been fired from her job just a few days previous, and was way upset. If it weren't for the need to care for her nephew, she said she might've taken her life. We testified of God's love for her, shared a message of hope from the Book of Mormon, and the Spirit was way strong. Being a tool is cool.
-Yesterday I crashed on my bike. Cool story, no? Ha psych. Un-psych to that psych because it is cool, I pinky-promise. Here's the rest of the story: So yesterday we were riding our bikes on a two lane road with no shoulder. I was pretty pooped, so wasn't going very fast and didn't have rigid control over my bike. All of a sudden in my mind I see my front wheel turn slightly and go off the road, causing my bike and I to tip over sideways and fall into the road. Less than a second later the scene unfolded exactly as I had seen it in my head. The Creagster was riding behind me, and used her super-power-biking-skills to stop in time, and then halt traffic while I dusted myself off and recollected my bike's basket/ the items that exploded out of it. The car behind us, and the car going the opposite direction both stopped to make sure I was ok, so Mississippi is still indeed the hospitality state. Sister Creager informed me that I fell rather gracefully; while I hadn't had enough time to prevent the accident, I think my forewarning super-charged my lazy reflexes into action to prevent serious damage to the self (just a baby sized cut, a little bruise, and a slightly swollen ankle to show from my tuffle with the pavement). Pretty cool; score one goes to the Holy Ghost.
Next week's project: Operation Cleveland. Be excited. Just don't be too excited, because Operation Cleveland is actually not a go yet, but this next week will involve some serious ironing out of details. More info to come.

Love y'all!
Sister Markle

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dear Family,
Whew-y Cancun looked and sounded like a blast. It doesn't seem real that you both got to go, but I guess that's why we have cameras. Proof. Someone needs to tell Katie and Kami that imitation is the highest form of flattery, so clearly they both look up to me more than simply in the literal sense ;) hahaha except that Kami needs to cool her jets with those boys, she's a whole year away from dating!

I think getting a new companion has helped me remember how crazy life in Greenville really is. When I first got here I remember being so bemused, but slowly I've been desensitized towards life in the countrified-ghetto. It's just life. Random funny moments from the week: we were teaching a brief lesson to a few teenagers, and when one of them interrupted to ask me if I've been on T.V., I told her she was getting me confused with the girl in Good Luck Charlie, then moved on with the lesson. I was taught how to "ghetto knock" this week by random people across the street from us. An old lady told us that when she was coming out of anesthesia the other week, the first thing she did was grab her breasts to make sure they were still there (they're her pride and joy, you see). Oh and after an interesting conversation about what makes us different (aka actually keeping the commandments) this drunk man told us that we were the only pure women he had ever met, to which I replied, do you seriously ask every lady you meet whether she's had sex before? People can be so skrange.

This week we made sure to get F involved in our lesson with L; a couple hymns and scriptures later, and they were both committed to coming to church on Sunday! F wanted to leave after sacrament meeting, but it was just such a miracle to get them both there. We're hoping that now that he's been to our church, it will help him to be more open to Linnie making the decision to be baptized. We're praying to help her set a baptismal date this week, so hopefully all goes well! She's really just so so close.
C+C's lesson went unexpectedly, but it was good stuff. We weren't quite so bold as we initially thought we were going to be, but really it's for the best. C asked us to start teaching his girlfriend without him there, because he simply can't help but ask his burning questions, and it'd be more beneficial for her if she can ask here own. That's what we've been wanting all along, so it was a tender mercy for him to come up with the idea on his own. Also when slyly talking about goals, such as oh you know marriage, we found out that their hold-up is her green-card which is being processed through Texas, thus taking forever. Three months left though! I dunno if you need a green-card to get married, but at least now we have a better idea of where they're at. We're also a little worried that C is feeling pushed by her boyfriend, so we'll work on clearing things up this week.
There are a couple cool young mothers that we recently started working with that have lots of potential, so I'll have to fill you in on them next week when I have more time. The work is continuing to roll forward! It's been such a blessing to be a part of the work here in Greenville, and I know that it will just keep continuing to progress. Love you all to the moon and back!

-Sister Markle

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dear Family,

You and CC are quite the lucky ducks. I hope your vacation in paradise ends up being lots of fun!  (but of course, not "too" fun, as that would be ridiculous ;) Good luck with the talk! Poor Jessika :( hopefullly they get everything all worked out! That's crazy that Mike is getting released by skype, I've never heard of that before. He's a lucky duck too.
This week has been chop full of adventure. It was weird leading the area, since I haven't been lead dog since Sister Harker left Wake Village way back when. Crazy, no? It was a good feeling to be able to fill in Sister Creager on all the work that is going on here, because I've been able to see lots of progress over the past three transfers. We went from little to do, to always having something, and having lots of people to work with. Plus all the people here are amazing, so that doesn't hurt either :) Sister Creager was confused at first by the absence of baptismal dates for L and A, but after we threw every trick in the book at D (another old black Baptist lady we recently started teaching) on Saturday, she now understands. Some people are just utterly resistant to date setting; they have such a firm faith in Christ, that no matter how many times you explain the concept of goal setting, they go back to the fact that they know that the Lord will answer their prayers, and that it will happen in His own due time and way. It's kind of a result of the religious culture here, so even though it's a little frustrating from our standpoint, it's just an obstacle that has to be worked with. At least they have strong faith! (and of course the Lord WILL answer their prayers, goals just help us to show our faith, and help us work towards the desired outcome)
We had another really great lesson with L, and she finally expressed her concern about her husband F. She wasn't sure she could even get baptized if he wasn't, and due to his Alzheimer's she also has to make sure she's making the right decision for the both of them. He really enjoys their Baptist church (especially singing in the choir), and hasn't expressed any interest coming to our church, so our next challenge is helping him to want to come... We'll keep you posted, as always.
We taught the Plan of Salvation this week to C+C; it's seriously my favorite lesson to teach, but it can be a tricky one, especially if you happen to be with members that enjoy deep doctrine discussions... Thankfully C already has a testimony, and C (girlfriend) is impossible to scare despite talk of Heavenly Mother and complicated temple doctrine that only Heavenly Father actually knows. C (girlfriend) is one of those cute humans that is super open/ agreeable, and is always smiling/ laughing, so you're always left with a question mark as to how much actually makes sense, and where to go from here. Plan for this upcoming week? Pulling out the big guns. We're going to talk about Waptism. Wedding-baptism. I'm stoked.

Due to a last minute schedule swap (one of the Seventy wanted to have a meeting with President McDonough), we ended up having to make the looong drive to Jackson twice in one week. Once for transfers, and then three days later for interviews. I was pooped. Ten hours of driving also musta increased my probability of a run-in with the law, as I got pulled over for the very first time in my life this week. I may or may not have been speeding in the middle of nowhere so that we could make it back from Jackson before... well it was going to be after curfew (9:30) no matter what, I was just trying to get us home as close to curfew as possible. Popo shut us down. Let off with a warning? You bet. Gave him a card and invited him to learn more? You bet. He was a nice man, he deserves the gospel. The end.
Too much to even talk about from this week. It's been a good one. Crazy. Busy. And oh so good. Love all y'all!
-Sister Markle

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Dear Family
Transfers were today! Sister Welch is now in Richland, MS and my new companion is Sister Creager. Sister Creager is from a town called Weston which is in Southeastern Idaho, she is second of five children, all of which are girls. She's been out as long as Sister Welch (10 months), and has served in El Dorado, AK and just came from Florence, MS. She's an art major at Utah State. That is all I know, so hopefully you find it sufficient :) I just hope that after that two and a half hour drive with a semi-sleep deprived, very rambly me, she hasn't decided I'm a complete nutter yet. It would spoil the surprise, and that's just no fun ;)
Since there's opposition in all things, you could say that our poison ivy bout earned us a miracle. We'll call it my poison ivy miracle that in all actuality has nothing to do with poison ivy. Here's the story: We've just about taught L all the missionary lesson so far. No problems. We thought that the Word of Wisdom would be the trial of her faith, mega answer from God time, but instead she just accepted it, and didn't actually drink very much tea or coffee anyways. Rats. She has the Doctrine and Covenants, and has always loved everything we've shared, but has been waiting on that answer. She's told us that she wouldn't be able to come to church until she knew it was true, because she's a secretary for her Baptist church (I can't remember if I told y'all, but a couple weeks ago we figured out that she goes to the same exact church as A. Crazy sauce). This week we decided to just really focus on the importance of coming to church in order to receive that confirmation, and we were kind of nervous that we'd get the answer she's usually given again. Random side note, but that morning I had actually taught District Meeting about the importance of teaching by the Spirit, so when Moroni 7 (the way to judge) scriptures popped in my head as we were following up with her reading, we just went with it. I found myself talking about how it's not about who's wrong or who's right, but about trying to follow Christ as closely as you can. This then led to talking about the Spirit, and then I started telling her about how I decided to go to BYU and serve a mission, as examples of instead of receiving an answer you can pinpoint, things just kind of all fall into place. She agreed that sometimes we receive answers by simply moving forward, and trusting that the Lord would stop us if it was against His will. I wanted to smile real big, and say, "EXACTLY!" but instead I looked over to Sister Welch, who promptly invited L to church. L's response? "I might need the address again." Hallelujah! Teaching by the Spirit is good stuff; God always knows what his children need to hear, even if it feels a little random or off topic at first.

L was only able to stay for sacrament meeting (her husband didn't want to come, and since he has Alzheimer's she doesn't like leaving him alone too long), but she really enjoyed it and says she will definitely come again :) She even paid a fast offering. Such an elect lady. Of course all the testimonies were about temple work, endowments for the dead, genealogy, etc. which we've never gotten into with her, but even though she was a little confused at times, she still felt the Spirit, and enjoyed church. I was inwardly laughing the whole time, because I was imagining how I would've been feeling if just anyone was there with us, but luckily L is awesome. C+C also came, and loved church again; they're really just becoming a part of the ward. We finally taught them the whole Restoration lesson this week, and we did it in Mike and Amy Turley's home (Mike and Amy got married a couple weeks ago! :) and it was awe-some. C even shared about how from reading the bible, she's always questioned why she would have to pray to Saints when she can just pray directly to God. Basically she told us she's not really Catholic, when all along we've been thinking she's really devout. She just has a lot of faith instead, which is good news for us :) Hallelujah round two!
It was sad to say goodbye to Sister Welch, but Sister Creager is super nice, and I'm excited for this next transfer. Many more miracles are on their way, I can just feel it :) God is good!
Love y'all
Sister Markle

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dear Family,
Sometimes we try to be good little Samaritans and help this lady with her yard. Near the beginning of this transfer we helped D and the Elders move a giant heap of mushroom infested wood from the side of her house to the side of the road so a truck could take it away. It took forever, but the next day she came to church, and really really liked it. While she wanted to learn more, her current focus is cleaning up her old rundown house, so she can rent it out and move back to Chicago in a couple weeks. She's in way over her head. We were able to help again last Saturday, and while the Elders finished on the wood, Sister Welch tore out old fence posts, and I took clippers to millions of weeds n' things. That's the back-story.

On Saturday Sister Welch and I became fed-up with all the giant bug bites and patches of little bug bites all over our bodies. I bought new bug spray, thinking that maybe since the stuff we've been using was almost out it had lost it's effectiveness. As the day went on, we began wondering whether or not we actually had bed bugs or something else nasty, so while picking something up from a member's house, we had them inspect our diseased skin. After a few other theories, they finally landed on poison ivy. We had the pharmacist at Walmart take a gander, and the suspicion was confirmed. Poison ivy is the Devil's plant. Essentially we want to cheese grader our skin off. I've got lumpy bumps all over my legs and one of my arms, and now I have a bunch on my stomach too. We're now in the process of decontaminating our house, because in the morning I keep waking up with new bumps. I also wake up a bunch in the middle of the night and find myself scratching. Bad news. Leaves of three, leave it be (side note: I find the fact that poison ivy grows in everyone's yards here very disturbing. I find it even more disturbing that people live here anyway. At church everyone took turns laughing at us, and nodding sympathetically, while giving us home remedies. While we did not go so far as putting gasoline on our skin, we may have tried Comet... Desperate times call for desperate measures).
That was my biggest news of the week. We had STL exchanges as well as Zone Conference this week too, so that was all pretty fun. At the start of the transfer we asked the sisters to plan exchanges around Zone Conference or interviews, so that we could work both our areas instead of double working ours for a change. There's already two sets of missionaries in Greenville, so when the STLs stay here we have to send someone to work the further out towns, but miles have been pretty tight this month. Instead, Sister Welch went with one of the sisters to work their area in Jackson, and I stayed with one of them here (since we had Zone Conference the next day, we had to drive to Jackson anyway, so no extra miles were wasted). Somehow she escaped being infected with poison ivy, so maybe our apartment isn't too too contaminated, even though our bodies beg to differ. I got to bike all Thursday with her, which was so fun after having such a long bike fast :) haha I shouldn't have been so happy about it, because I probably jinxed myself; next week is transfers, and not only is Sister Welch probably leaving, but we might be turning into a car share with the Elders. Who doesn't like to bike, right?
Almost all our appointments fell through on Thursday, but while I was biking with the STL I had the thought we should go try S. S is the lady we met a while back that accepted a baptism date, but works at Subway on Sundays. We'd only taught her a couple times, but then for a few weeks we had absolutely no contact with her. She wouldn't answer our calls or texts, and was never home when we stopped by. I figured we might as well try, and happy day, she was home! She gave us big hugs, and said she missed us, and I told her we had tried to contact her, but could never catch her. Guess where she's been? Jail. Yup. Jail. Definitely not the first thing my brain jumps to when I lose contact with investigators, that's for sure. I don't even know how to explain why she was incarcerated, but basically she got in a fight with someone. All that bidness, plus family troubles, plus extra shifts at Subway = one stressed out S. She asked if we could just get started with the lesson, so she could calm down, and she even volunteered to say the opening and closing prayers. The first time she prayed was at the close of our very first lesson, so it was cool to see the progress she's made since then. Working on Sundays, plus the possibility of probation or parole are standing between her and her baptism, but despite all that I was just so grateful we're back in contact. Yay for promptings!
That's crazy that CC and Alli were both having surgery at the same time, AND SINCE WHEN WAS ALLI GETTING MARRIED?! You guys get to go to Cancun?! How'd CC decide who got to go with, and when are you going? I definitely expect some pictures.
Love y'all!
Sister Markle