Monday, May 6, 2013

Week #10 - Anyone for Dill Pickle soup?

Hello all!! 

For starters, I'm going to have to keep this letter a little shorter. Hna Smith and I have LOADS to do, so we're going to try to actually get out of the library before an hour is up :) 

Anyway, just the same as every week I've had since I've been here, this week was nuts! For starters, my Dad was awesome enough to buy/send me a new camera battery charger since I lost my charger while I was in the MTC. It came last P-day, so I have all sorts of exciting pictures to send out! Ironically, later that week, it was dumping rain, and I was putting my ever-so-feminine rain boots on, I felt something hard and VOILA! My camera charger :) Daddy, sorry that your daughter is nuts and decided to stash her camera charger in her rain boot, then forgot about it. Sorry :) On the plus side, now I have TWO! :)  

Compliments of Carissa!
(side note about the rain boots - they're plain forest green, and slightly manly looking. Then, you'll notice they have a really random gold buckle on the top of the boot - when I was putting them on the other day, I started laughing so hard that I fell off my bed. I had the Doghouse diary comic (Riss, you know which one I'm talking about - you should send it to my Mom, so she can put it on this thingy and people won't think I'm nuts) about the "cute" "super cute" difference. I thought it was funny :)  

Just for fun, here's some more fun facts about Tennessee for the week: 

1) EVERYONE wears scrubs here. I haven't yet decided if it's because everyone wants to feel intelligent and wearing Wal Mart scrubs makes you look like a nurse, or if it's merely an excuse to wear around the same thing that you slept in earlier that day. Either way, going to Wal Mart every P-day is always a hilarious adventure - someday, I'll keep track of how many scrubs-wearers I run into :) It's probably in the 30's, at least. 

2) I forgot to mention this last P-day, but we actually had a tornado warning in the middle of the night last week! Round 1:30am, we got a text telling us to take shelter, so Hna Smith and I headed to the only room in the house that didn't have windows - the broom closet. We somehow managed to stuff ourselves in there, along with Hna Smith's mattress leaning over us, so that we'd be protected if things started flying. Luckily though, the tornado didn't touch down in our area, and all was well :) Actually things were BETTER than well (awfully grammar, lo siento) since Hna Smith and I were having the time of our life crammed back there. Everything was hilarious since it was 2am, and something about being crammed into a 5'x5' closet with a mattress is really bonding. Mothers, if your kids are ever fighting too much, just skip over the "sit on the couch and hold hands" maneuver, and just throw them in a broom closet, slap a mattress on top, and they'll be golden in about 30 min. I'm serious here - super bonding :)  

3) I tried some "dill pickle soup" this last week. Truthfully, I haven't got much else to say, besides the fact that it was super weird. And yes, the name of the soup really does describe about 60% of the ingredients. Like I said, weird. 

4) HA! Okay, I'm already giggling just thinking about this story: when I was in church this last Sunday, one of the member families introduced us to their cousin, Marissa Benson, who is inactive. We were getting to know her/finding a time we could come visit, when we found out she was super busy because of her job. She is the manager over a clothing branch her in the East (I can't remember the name, sorry), and they have a big show coming up that she's busy planning for. Then it gets good - 10 min after finding out that tidbit, Hna Smith and I walked out with a phone number to call her later in the week, so we could organize coming to her store in Tullahoma for a fitting - she asked us to be models in her fashion show coming up. HA! We'll have to get it okay-ed by President, but we said she wants to introduce us as "The Mormon missionaries" and have us set up a booth in the foyer for after the show. Stay tuned for updates on this one - I'm still giggling just thinking about it. That would be the best mission story ever :)  

Okay, okay. I should probably get down to explaining why this week was so nuts. Because it was.  

Thursday - we had an awesome zone conference that we drove out to, and were pretty much at all day. Our car got inspected by Elder Rodak (one of the senior missionaries here, who is actually retired secret service. One of the Elders in our zone is scared of him, and when I asked him why, he just whispered "Hna Lake - he's killed people. He's just got that look in his eye". I couldn't stop laughing :) Anyway, you think keeping your car clean is hard? Imagine having it checked by the guy who used to inspect/drive the President's limo. That makes things a little tough :) It was an awesome training, plus I ran into Elder Lindeman, who was in my MTC district and was reassigned to TN as well. It was super fun to see him, and meet everyone else in the Zone too.  

Friday - this was the first day of the 9th annual Winchester "Dogwood Festival". As for why it's called that, I've no idea. Pretty sure dogwoods a tree. Or a carving of a dog out of wood. Or a band. Really, I've no idea.  

Anyway, this was actually pretty cool - we were doing a program called "Prepare the way" - it involved setting up an awesome booth at the festival for the LDS church, having all the missionaries from our district come up (so, 10 total) armed with clipboards and surveys. We approached people and asked if they would fill out a 4 question survey, to submit their name to a drawing for a free picture of Christ (giant one, from the stake center) or 2 trees (now that I think of it, pretty sure they were Dogwood trees. That would make sense...) The questionarre was very simple, and I'll try to attach a copy if I can - it pretty much consisted of asking if they would be interested in learning more about Christ's restored church, revealed modern day scripture, how they can be with their family forever, and if they're okay with people coming to visit them to teach them more about these things. They then left their name, address and number, and that was it. We had AMAZING success! After working for 12 hours between Friday and Sunday (more on Sat later), we contact about 300 people, and only 11 of them said "No" to all 4 questions. Basically, we've got about 289 referrals to contact between the 10 of us missionaries - AWESOME!  

Saturday - again, we went to Winchester to work the Dogwood festival, but it was cancelled because of rain. So, we just changed plans, and set out to start contacting people who were referrals from the day before! Hna Smith and I had slightly less luck than the Elders - they got invited in at every door, and taught them each about a 90 minutes less, while our experience involved a pack of 10 golden retrievers who really wanted to give us some love, a pit bull (that was legitimately scary - Hna Smith was convinced she was going to have to beat it to death with her umbrella), flooded dirt roads (it was REALLY raining), and driving loooots of miles (we went 120 from that day alone - we're only allotted 1,200 for the whole month, so we'll be walking for a while these next few days :) Basically, it was an adventure - pictures to follow :)

Sunday - Stake conference (which was also an adventure - apparently, there was a miscommunication between SLC and the whole east coast, and everyone got the wrong start time for the broadcast - we started watching it an hour later than it started, but caught the tail end of Uchtdorf's talk, which was awesome :) We also had some investigators there, so that's good.) and more Dogwood festival. Dogwood was awesome that day, though we had to leave early since another storm was coming in (that seems to have been happening an awful lot lately, now that I think about it...). Hna Smith and I headed back to the home base to start organizing/counting referrals, while the rest of the missionaries stayed behind to try and catch some more people. About 30 minutes later, there was good news and bad news - good news is, the rain stopped. Bad news in, the hail started. And I'm talking hail. The missionaries were troopers and helped run around to cover other people's booths (one sister got stuck shielding leather belts for 30 min), but got soaked. They finally trickled in, looking soaked and bruised from the golf-ball sized hail. On the plus side, there were a lot of vendors that tried to pay the missionaries back for their help, but the missionaries refused to accept their money, and made them promise to read the Book of Mormon instead. Hehe. Whatever works! :)
Basically, it was a crazy week! We've got a lot of work ahead of us - 290 referrals!! However, we're all super pumped to see the growth that's going to come from this. I seriously recommend doing this program to anyone that would like to try it out! Spokane mission, Brazil, whatever. It's worked wonders here. If people want to know more, I can email out a more detailed game plan if they want - it's pretty amazing! When Brother Dubose (one of the members in Winchester) did this program during his mission in Boise Idaho (that's where the idea originally sprang from), they contacted 40,598 people (though only 17,805 were home), have 416 first discussions, and 101 baptisms come of it. Super cool! This works, I'm telling ya :) 

Anyway, I've got to get going - my "short email" ending up being pretty long :) Hna Smith's still going strong though, so I don't feel too bad :) I'll finish off with this - I love being a missionary. The longer I am here, the better I love people, and the thinner the veil becomes. I love being a servant of God, in the most literal and complete way possible. If any of you are considering missions - Senior missions, or otherwise - don't hesitate. Do it. I look back on the hesitancy and apprehension I had of "sacrificing" to go on a mission, and am sickened by the thought that I could have chose to not come. Nothing in life will be more of a blessing than your mission. As for leaving behind those you love - do not fear. I have learned repeatedly the lesson of how perfect God's love is. I promise that the Lord will take much better care of your family than you ever can - I realize that when I had left, I had pridefully thought it a sacrifice for my family to see my go, so "they needed me there". Posh. My perfect Heavenly Father takes a heck of a lot better care of my loved ones that I ever can. It's an amazing blessing, and it truly allows you to work :) I love being a missionary, and know you will too! :)  

For those who are home with families, or recently returned - don't think this doesn't apply to you! Members make ALL the difference. Without the support of members fellowshipping or supporting investigators, they are MUCH less likely to stay active in the church - that's a sad fact that is blatantly obvious in my mission here.  SO many are inactive or forgotten because they were never loved and accepted by the ward. Don't ever allow that to happen in your area. When I hear stories of investigators feeling unnoticed or unappreciated in their efforts to completely turn around their life, it breaks my heart. They need your love and acceptance in your ward - that is something a missionary, though specifically set apart as a missionary, cannot do. That is your job :) So, do it, and do it well! You live in that area for a reason - just as much as missionaries are specifically sent to areas to find people, so are members of a ward specifically meant to fellowship others around them. Pray for the Lord to guide to those that need you - I promise you someone does, and there will be things you can do that no one else can. Pinky Promise :)  

Basically, life is great. I love the Lord, I love my family, and I love living amongst the rednecks of TN :) Seriously - they make life interesting.

Love you all!  

Hna Lake
The awesome older lady who goes outside her house everyday, and cuts her lawn with scissors. We've talked to her before - she super nice, and really likes mowing her lawn with scissors. 

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