Wednesday, June 26, 2013

North Platte Says Hello!

Hello, family! Thank you one and all for all of the exciting emails and information, especially about Joel! Here's to hoping he is one relaxed and happy baby!
Our week has been nuts. We have basically been going through our ward list and meeting everyone. Sometimes we meet people that are a little odd, but that's okay. I love that we are here, and the ward is great! They are so loving and helpful and our Bishop is always helping us out. He gave us a referral our first day, and we are teaching her right now. It is cool! We just hope that she begins to make choices that will be good for her.
We live right by a big corn field and a big wheat field, so it is really pretty, even if we have been having nightly thunder storms (which, let's face it: I love them!).
So I hope you all googled to figure out where North Platte is because it is the furthest west area in the mission, I believe. But the people are soooo nice. One ward member described living in North Platte as living 40 years ago: low crime, friendly, small community, full of love! It's true.
We are working well with the Elders here, and just trying not to double up on people. We had a moment last night where Sister Stiles and I were about to drive up to a family's house, and just as we turn down the street, we see the Elders knocking on their door! Ooops. We just drove by, like the creepers we are. It was okay, though, because we had someone else to visit, and it turned out really well.  It's just going to take some figuring out who to go see so they don't get surrounded by missionaries all at once.
Oh, and a note about the weather: Someone should tell me how hot it ACTUALLY got on Thursday/Friday. The temperature gauge in the car said 122 at one point, and I declared it to be broken. Then on Saturday, it said 88, which seemed realistic, and we wondered how hot it actually was.
North Platte is definitely lower in humidity than Omaha, which is nice, but, hey, it's still humid. Just not quite as bad. It's worse when a storm is headed in, but I like storms, so I almost forgive Nebraska for that.

Did everyone see the missionary broadcast Sunday night? If not, you need to watch it. I think it will be on Watch it! It's pretty inspiring.
I feel like I had other stuff to say, but it's all gone right now. Out of my brain! Just know I love you, I love what I'm doing, and the only time I hate it is when someone texts us at 2:30 in the morning. Yeah, you know me and sleep. When it's interrupted, I want to commit homicide.
Keep the letters/emails coming. I love them and I love you! Life is good and I hope you are all good, too!
Sister Loradona May


 (Note from Debra: We have been out of town, so I am catching up. This came on June 17th)
So, I'm no longer in Plattsmouth. Thursday morning was the day we were going to get news on transfers, and Sister Harris and I were trying not to think about it. We were exercising when President Weston called, however, so we missed the call. In the meantime, we were freaking out, trying to call back, leaving a message, etc. When President called back, he spoke first to Sister Harris, and it became evident from her side of the conversation that she was staying, and I would be leaving. When President spoke to me, he said, "Are you ready for me to rock your world? Are you sitting down?" I assured him I was, indeed, seated, and then he says, "We'd like for you to train Sister Stiles in North Platte, which will be opening the area to sisters." Of course I say yes, but I was also a little sad--I was just getting used to the place! There were people I loved and was teaching! Sob! There was another hitch, though: The home we are living with in North Platte was not yet ready for us, so we would go to Grand Island on Friday in the transfer van, drive our new car from Grand Island to Kearney and stay until Monday with the Kearney Sisters, Sister Brown and Sister Youngberg! You may recognize that name from such shows as, "I Was Your Companion in the MTC!" and "We'll Never See Each Other Again Because We're Forty-Eleven-Trillion Miles Away!"
So Thursday was full of nuttiness as I packed, said good bye, served one last day at the Trail Center, and taught. And then Friday morning came, and I met Sister Stiles. She's pretty great. She's one of the young'uns, but she actually served a service mission in Nauvoo last summer as part of the band in Nauvoo, so that's cool. She's from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and she's really excited to be here! I'm nervous, but excited, too.
So we took the van out to Grand Island, where we were met with our car: a red Subaru Legacy! HA! Are you jealous, Mom? It's pretty good, because I'm nervous enough about driving places I don't know, and at lease I already know where all of the knobs and dials in the car are. Whew! The one sad thing: no seat heaters, though I doubt we'll need them this transfer.
So we don't have a map. We don't have much of anything, except some mapquest directions from the Office. But it's cool, and we made it to Kearney, and we basically had a weekend-long exchange with the Kearney Sisters. Sister Youngberg and I went to a woman's home Sunday night, and it turned out the woman's daughter is a cello performance major, just like Sister Y'berg! Just as the woman is getting excited and telling Sister Y'berg that she needs to come back and practice the cello, the tornado warning sirens go off. So we headed down to the basement to wait for it to be safe, and Sister Y'berg played the cello for us, and I sang. Hymns are the best. So I have had tornado warnings twice while I've been in lessons, and both times it's been so that we would be able to have the kind of lesson the person needed and that Heavenly Father knew we needed to teach. By the time we left, the sister said to us, "I think I know Who sent you!" We agreed with her.
Don't worry, Mom, we are always safe. Always. :)
This morning we drove to North Platte (Hey, just for fun, Google the distance between Omaha and North Platte. You can now get the idea of just how far out we are. I think we're the furthest West area in the mission), and met Sister Marshall and got to move in. You'll be glad to know, Mom, that our room is in the basement. We'll be safe no matter what. :)
Now we're at the North Platte Library, emailing away and basically rocking the experience. We'll let you know next week how North Platte is. I feel like there's more to share, and there probably is, but I can't remember it. Probably isn't important.

Just know I love each of you and I love all of the letters and emails I get. It makes me feel so loved!
Sister Loradona May

Monday, June 10, 2013

Another Week in Plattsmouth!

This week I have been out six weeks, which you know what that means: Transfers! I have no clue if I will be transferred, and I won't know until Thursday morning, so that means you won't know until next Monday. Oh well.
This week was a week where we spent a LOT of time at the Trail Center. Or maybe it just seemed that way?
Anyway, I gave a tour to a a couple of Elders, the sister they were teaching, and a member of their ward, and it was a cool tour. It was one of those times that you could tell the Spirit was there, they were feeling it, I was feeling it, and it was just the coolest. I am trying to figure out why some tours are AMAZING! and why some tours are just tours. When I get it pinned down, I'll let you know.
Saturday was a little crazy: there was a tour of 65  recent high school graduates who came in and we weren't expecting them. There were also a few other tours going on and people still coming in! The sisters who were on call had to pitch in and help, and there for a while, it was constant tours. Then, around 6:30, things went silent. And until closing at 9, there was but one tour, and it was not mine. Luckily though, I got to chat with Elder Butikofer! His dad is Sam Butikofer, and I think he said his mother's name was Naomi? I forget. His name is Gary, and he said that John was just a little older than he is, or maybe that he is just a little older than John? Something like that. Anyway. Because he didn't know Grandma very well, he asked all about her and about us, and it was fun to get to know him better. It's kind of neat that I get to serve with a relative! And he agreed with me: Howard is just about one of the smiliest, laughingest people around!
Thursday we were at the Trail Center in the morning, and we had been thinking we were going back to Plattsmouth that evening, until we were asked to help out at a free medical clinic at a Lutheran church in downtown Omaha. Best. Decision. Ever. It is really the coolest to just cooperate and collaborate with other folks. Anyway, I worked in the medicine dispensary area, running down bottles of pills, helping to fill prescriptions, matching files with names on bottles and so forth. Also, I got to yell people's names out of doors so they could come talk to the pharmacists. I was super busy. Which means life was good! Also, Sister Youngberg--you may remember her from such shows as "Hey, We Were Companions in the MTC!" and "She Went to Kearney!"--was at the clinic helping out, since she and her companion were in Omaha for a meeting.
After helping all evening at the clinic, one of the doctor volunteers and his wife took all of us sisters--all 8!--out for pizza for dinner. It was so much fun, and he is so neat. He's a great guy and just a really caring doctor. One of the sisters at one point asked him about a muscle twitch in her eye, and he stopped, looked at her eye, and told her what she should do and why it was doing that. Basically, he's one of the most servingest people I've ever met. Ever. And one of the sisters has him reading the Book of Mormon, so that's cool, too. :)
I'm trying to think of anything else, and I feel like this week wasn't super thrilling, but it was super good. So not a lot of huge things to report, but just know it's been a good week, and it's going to be good this coming week, too.
Awards?  All of the people who have been writing me get special awards, but special shout out this week to Hykel, who continues in awesomeness and amazingness in her letters and offers to help. Yay for Hykel! Three Cheers!
Sister May

Monday, June 3, 2013

In Which I Hear My First Tornado Siren

Well, that's sensational, isn't it? But I have your attention!  Spoiler alert: nothing much happened.
Here's the story: We've been working with an investigator I will call...  wait. Did I give her a pseudonym already? I soooo can't remember. Let's call her Rachel. Because I like all the Rachels I've ever met, and I LOOOOVE this lady! She has a son we'll call Scott, in honor of Scott Shea, who continues to send me awesome letters!

Anyway, we're at Rachel's house giving a lesson. She is so awesome and progressing, and reading, and she just has such faith. Before the lesson, Sister Harris and I had noticed the dark clouds gathering, so we called one of our leaders for the weather update, and she said all looked fine for the foreseeable future, so we went ahead with the lesson. Part way through, we suddenly hear this loud noise. I, being a bit dim, said, "Is that the tornado siren?" The ward member who came with us just calmly said, "Yep!" and so we all trekked down to the basement where we continued our lesson--on the Plan of Salvation! HA! "So, when the tornado comes and we die, do you know what will happen to your spirit?"
Luckily, though, it was just a heavy thunderstorm, and nothing else. It was a pretty good lesson, and didn't scare her off, though, because Rachel and Scott made it to church on Sunday and stayed all three hours! Now that is an accomplishment!
We had some other good lessons with folks, and we continue to try to meet as many people as we can. I just want to say though: Members need to give referrals! I don't think I realized that much at home, but I realize it now. Also: you should use the visitor centers near you. They are amaaaazing! And great ways to share the gospel in a non threatening way. Do it!
On to MY visitor's center experiences for the week: I met another of Dad's relatives! Dad's relatives just come from everywhere, and it's hilarious to me! So I was on a tour with a couple when Sister Harris comes up and says, "Sister May, you're wanted at the front desk! I'll take your tour until you're done!"
Confused, I make my way to the desk, where Sister Butikofer is behind the desk talking to a couple. When they see me, the man says, "I'm related to Mays, though I'm not a May, I'm a Hathaway--" and then I rudely interrupt him and say, "Oh! Like Aunt Claudia!" He looks surprised and says, "Claudia was my mother!" So yeah, Dad's cousin and his wife happen to know another missionary couple at the trail center, so when they were coming through, they decided to stop and see the center. When he saw Sister Butikofer's name tag, he said, "I'm sort of related to some Butikofers! My mother's brother married a Butikofer, but his name was May." Sister Butikofer was quick to point out Elder Butikofer was related to a May working in the TC that very day! And my companion ran to find me. Isn't that hilarious?
So I gave him Dad's contact info (who knows if they'll get in touch, but that would be great!), and then he had to get a photo with me, so that was super fun.
Here's my weekly tip for prospective missionaries: Practice the piano! Because if you even play a little bit, you get nominated to be the designated pianist, and it helps if you at least know a few hymns before you go. Ahem. That may or may not be based upon a true story.
We had dinner with our Bishop's family this week, and I love them! They are great, and he knows all about Strange Brew and the Great White North, so you know he must be excellent.
Also, Sister Harris and I have almost been eaten by dogs, twice. Once we were saved because the owner called the dog off, and the second time we were saved by a screen door. That second dog looked like the dog from the Sandlot, so I was a little terrified. Everyone has a dog in Nebraska, and I mean everyone. And the dogs all bark, and none of them are trained to just ignore people walking by on the sidewalk. (I should reiterate: the dogs that nearly ate us were not at houses we were approaching. We were merely walking by on our way to somewhere else!) So we are all lucky that I was not the meal of a very large dog this week. That would have been a sad and inauspicious end to my mission. Here's to hoping I still have some 16.5 months to go! (I'm just kidding, Mom. I'm safe, I'm well, and the dogs didn't really come close to eating me. It's called creative license, okay?)
Seriously, you should all keep up the letter writing, because it's awesome. Thanks!
The Golden Unicorn Award of It Doesn't Exist goes to: the tornadoes everyone warned us about this week but did not appear! (I think I forgot to mention that one night they had us go in early because of some nasty weather, so we hunkered down in the basement with some Oreos, but it was just stormy.) (Not that I am complaining. I'm not. And my heart goes out to Oklahomans and everyone affected by the tornadoes there. But I'm just saying, that I feel a little bit like a townsperson in the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.)
Love you!
Sister Loradona May