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

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