Monday, August 26, 2013

Another week in North Platte!

Dearest Family,

For the bad news: Sister Stiles convinced me to see the doctor about my foot (it was swelling whenever I would walk for any length of time, which, you know, is not good for missionaries, or anybody, really). So I had xrays and whatnot, and (for the good news) nothing's broken! For more bad news, I have to stay off of it for a while. Today should be the last day? So cross your fingers for me. It's NOT bad at all, so do NOT even worry about me. I only tell you these things in the interest of full disclosure. The biggest problem was my own stubborness--if I had just sat and rested for 3 days right after I twisted my foot, it would be fine already, but because I was insisting upon working, it prolonged the healing process. So here's my message for you: if you are sick or injured, just stay home. Just get better. Or life will get worse. Boo. But I'm fine! The bruise on my arm is still way worse.
Here are some other highlights from the week: So, we went to Broken Bow for our district meeting. Our District Leader, Elder Thompson, has been providing us with meat for district lunch because he received a bunch of meat from a member. One week it was pulled pork(?) sandwiches. I think it was pork. But it was mystery meat from the member. The next week it was tacos with ground beef from the member. This last week, all Elder Thompson would say was, "District lunch SURPRISE!" And then we received a cryptic text from him: Is anyone allergic to cats? I wanted to respond with, "Sister Stiles and I love cat! Yum!" but I refrained. It turns out the home we would be eating at had about 4 cats and he wanted to make sure everyone would be fine with the cats. But this week's meat turned out to be amazing. Because it was steak. (And not Cat Steak, but real beef steak!)

I think you all know that I love me some steak. Love. And this was amazing. Apparently, it was also fresh, so you know, practically still mooing. So I have now officially had Nebraska steak, from Nebraska cows, in Nebraska. Go Meat!

We also had a funeral this week. A sister in the ward who had been battling cancer for 13 years passed away, and Sister Stiles, Elder Riley, and and I performed a musical number for it--Sister Stiles' medley of "Abide With Me, Tis Eventide" and "Homeward Bound" that we sang a few weeks back for Sacrament Meeting. We sounded really good, but it was definitely a different experience this time--most of the people I didn't know, and most of them were crying while we sang. But the family members were appreciative of the music and we were glad to help out. But that is my second funeral here in Nebraska. I don't know what that means...

Remember how we are having a mission tour this week? Well, we learned a few details. We will be going to have our conference with Elder Robbins on Friday the 30th, and we will have to head to Lincoln. I am a little sad that we will be so close to Omaha, because that means that we will be within an hour of the Temple, but not able to go. Sob! Maybe another time. (It's sad, because when you're way out in the boonies, you don't get to go to the temple at all. It's just too far.) But we don't know if we will get to carpool with anyone, or where we will stay. We will be driving out there Thursday evening so we can be there in time for the 9 am start time, but we don't know where we will be staying. And you know me: I LOVE a plan (and now I'm thinking of the A Team...), and not having a plan or even a hint of a plan is making me crazy! Sigh. I'm learning to be patient. (Between you and me, I think that the Lord is working to make me more patient--He's making me wait on my foot to heal, he's making me wait to know what our plans are, and I just think that patience is a bunch of what I am supposed to learn from this.)

Speaking of the mission tour, though, Sister Youngberg called us on Saturday. She asked Sister Stiles to accompany her on the piano (Sis. Y'berg will be on the cello) as the special musical number for our conference on Friday. The plan was at first to overnight the musical accompaniment to us, but then Sister Marshall (we live with her, remember?) was headed to Kearney, so she brought the music back to us that evening! Hooray! So since I am forced to sit with my foot up for hours on end, Sister Stiles has been playing and practicing for hours on end, and only freaking out a little bit. It is a bit unnerving to learn you'll be performing for a zillion missionaries, your mission president, and a general authority, and you only have 6 days to learn and practice the music. But, hey, maybe this is why I had to twist my foot--so Sister Stiles could practice and feel more confident! She got a blessing yesterday from the Elders and our ward mission leader. When he asked for her full name, the newest elder said, "I feel like that's information I'm not supposed to know!" HA! I heart elders. They're ridiculous. 

Another funny tidbit--Dad sent me a package, probably two weeks ago. I, however, did not even know a package was headed my way until this past week when a letter from Mom said, "You should already have the package by now..." Huh, I thought. What package? Well, thought I, maybe they're holding it in Omaha. Two of the Elders were going to a meeting, so I asked if they would check for the package for me. Sure, they replied, no problem. They go to their meeting and return. No package there, they say, it actually got sent to McCook, to an Elder. 


Really. They crossed out my name, and put an address label for this Elder in McCook on my package. Apparently when he got it, he opened it, got confused at the contents, then looked at the package, and saw my crossed out name on it, and then held on to it for a week. But our Zone Leaders were going to McCook, so they would pick it up for me and bring it back. Sigh. And when I got it, yep, it was my package from Dad, with the CDs in it and a letter. Oy vey. I have no idea what goes on with the mail sometimes. Maybe there's an Elder there in the office who has it in for me, so he hoards my mail and sends my packages to the wrong person. :) HA! It doesn't matter--I have it now. I may keep the packaging just for the pure comedy of looking at a package with my crossed out name on it and the McCook Elder's name and address plastered on it. 

Speaking of mail hijinx, though, next week is transfers, so who knows what will happen. If you don't mail something to me by Tuesday (Sept 3), then don't send it to the address where I live; send it to the Omaha address. Or wait until after Sept. 5, which is when we hear about transfers. I honestly don't want to hazard a guess, because I totally thought I would stay in Plattsmouth and Sister Harris would leave, but then I left Plattsmouth, and Sister Harris is STILL there! Go figure. Though you should all send me your guesses: Will Sister May stay in North Platte? Be transfered to Kearney? To Omaha? Or Sioux City? Who knows!

Also: Remember the man we met in the Wendy's two weeks ago? We're meeting him again tonight! Exciting times! 

Also, it's P-Day! Life is good. Now if I can just relax about not knowing what I'm doing on Friday, I will be fine. I love you all! 


Sister Loradona May

Monday, August 19, 2013

In Which I Am Injured

Okay, I'll get the suspense out of the way--on Tuesday I very gracefully slid down some stairs and maybe twisted my foot. It hurt, but there wasn't a mark on it! I was actually mad that it didn't look more swollen or bruised or something. I mean, I want something to show for my pain! Luckily, I bounced right back and after some ibuprofen and ice, life was nice. Now that it's been several days, though, a yellowish bruise is making an appearance, so that's... gross. HA! I have a better bruise on my arm, but unfortunately it doesn't photograph well, or I'd send you a photo. It's all colors and shades of blue, purple, and green. You should all be jealous!
We have continued to teach people this week, but it sometimes moves a little slowly when people cancel on us. Sigh. We've definitely had some good lessons and a chance to teach people. Last week's theme seemed to be the Plan of Salvation! Some weeks it seems like the Restoration is all we teach, but last week was different. I loved it, though. 

We traveled to Holdredge for our district meeting last week, and that was good, even if it was a 200 mile round trip. So far we are halfway through the month, and we have used about half of our miles, so we are on track. Sadly, however, that won't cut it when we have to travel to Grand Island (or maybe Lincoln? We haven't heard anything about that) when Elder Robbins comes next week for the mission tour. This week we travel to Broken Bow for our district meeting, which is only 150 miles round trip, so you know, it's an improvement. Have I mentioned before that Sister Stiles and I have decided that Broken Bow, Nebraska should be best friends with Broken Arrow, Oklahoma? Well, we have. And now I will get to see Broken Bow, so that should be interesting. Our district leader last transfer got lost going to Broken Bow and almost traveled out of the mission, so I hope the map doesn't lead me astray! The Address on for the North Platte meeting house is WRONG! Wrong number, wrong street, wrong, wrong, wrong! The building phone rang yesterday, and I answered it, and it was someone looking for the building but not finding it. Of course not, I thought. Everything is wrong! Argh. For future reference, the address of the North Platte church building is  4100 W. A and Lakeview Drive. (It's kind of on the corner.) So if any of you ever go to North Platte, just know that the directions on the church website don't work. Ask me instead. :) 

Things I have noticed about North Platte:
1. They love their lawns (by and large, anyhow). They also love to water their lawns. And it seems they also love to water their sidewalks. 
2. They've never met a garage sale they didn't love. They are everywhere it seems! We haven't really stopped at any, but sometimes when we've been out walking, we'll kind of walk slowly by! 
On Saturday we finally made contact with a referral we've been trying to meet since the beginning of our stay here! Hooray! She needed some help getting ready for the exterminators to come--hooray! Even better, she likes us and we'll be going back to teach. Life in Nebraska can be a little weird sometimes, but I think that speaks more about the missionary condition than it does about Nebraska. 

I love you all, and I think that life keeps getting better. And as someone smarter than I am once said, "It will be alright in the end. And if it's not alright, then it's not the end!"


Sister Loradona May

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Another Week in Paradise! (From Aug. 12th)

This week has been weird, but I feel like every week on a mission is weird. But first I lost my voice on Tuesday, so we did nothing. It's hard to teach people when you don't have a voice. Don't worry, though: I'm doing better now.
It was definitely one of those weeks when all of the seemingly-solid appointments cancelled on us. We even had a dinner cancel on us! She called us and asked if she could give us a gift card to Wendy's instead. We said, Sure. Why not? So we took ourselves out for dinner. We'd been sitting down no longer than about a minute when a man came up to us, stared hard at my name tag, then asked, "Are you Mormons?" Yep, we sure are! It turned out his grandmother had been a member, and he asked if he could ask us some questions when we were done. So when we finished eating, we went and sat with him as he asked question after question! We pretty much ended up teaching him the Plan of Salvation and all about the restoration. We also gave him a Book of Mormon and asked if we could call him to follow up. We probably won't get to go teach him since he lives a million miles away in the Sand Hills, but we can at least contact the branch up there. It was such a cool experience, though. He was really moved by a lot of the things we taught him, and I think it was just what he needed. 

The other weird thing about this week was my mail. See, for the last few weeks, I thought my mail was getting slow, but whatever. After you've been out for a while, you tend to figure people will slowly stop writing to you. But it seemed weird that Dad would stop writing. 

Yeah, that's what I said: Dad. I hadn't received a letter from Dad practically since the end of June. But we went to our District Meeting on Wednesday, and our district Leader said that I was the big winner for mail! Plus a package! Our zone leaders had brought back a ton of stuff from Omaha (forget the fact that they'd been to Omaha several times during the last transfer and this one), and among the stuff was my mail! (Let me explain how mail works: When you mail something to the mission address, they paste my local address over the mission address, then throw it back in the mail to get to me. So it takes 2 days to get to Omaha, a day to get sorted and a new label in the office, then another 2 to get to me out in North Platte. So, I usually get letters a week after you write them. Or, if there's a big meeting coming up, they will hold onto it until the meeting, and then they will send it with the APs to the meeting, and they'll give it to you there.) For some reason, the office hoarded my mail for the month of July, but not all of it. See, I've received 3 letters from Scott in July, but then one letter (from July 15) they held onto. I received no letters from Dad, so on Wednesday, I got four letters from Dad. I also received 3 letters from Hykel, a postcard from Chellae, and a letter from my friend Jessica. So, yeah. I was the big winner for mail, but I would have preferred they just forward it on like usual. 

So if I haven't written back to people in response to letters, or in response to specific questions in letters, that's why! I'm not upset, I'm just confused--how come some letters make it through (3/4 of letters from Scott Shea, for example), but others (100% from Dad) don't get forwarded at all? I have no idea. It made for a lot of reading on Wednesday night, that's for sure!

So, this week has been good, but we have a trip to Holdredge coming up, so that's a fun 100 mile (one way) drive to go to our District Meeting this week. Keep being awesome and writing letters--even if I don't get them until a month later! I still love them, and I love you!


Sister Loradona May

Teaching Like Mad! (From Aug. 5th)

So, Sister Stiles and I have been teaching like mad. Basically, wherever we go, we are teaching. We try to be prepared, and we try to plan for teaching opportunities wherever we go. At first, things were a little scary this week because we had some empty days. Days where it is like hollering into a cave and hearing an echo back. That's how empty it was. Yikes. So, we just prayed. A lot. And then we got ourselves out there and beat the fear out of ourselves. And we were blessed! We had a ton of lessons and we found 4 new investigators. I really think that our efforts are blessed. I also think that sometimes we doubt ourselves, and we just shouldn't. 
This week we were supposed to go to Broken Bow for our District Meeting, but that changed, and now we are going to have a Zone Training and it will be in North Platte. Oh, and I will be giving a training. So, you know, pray for me on Wednesday, willya? Also, I have decided that Broken Bow, NE and Broken Arrow, OK need to be buddies. One day I will get to Broken Bow, and I would like to say hello to Broken Arrow. Maybe one day. 

Sundays are the weirdest days, as missionaries. Normally, I would think of Sunday as a day of rest. As a missionary, it is more of the same, but with more meetings. Yesterday, our day started with Ward Council for North Platte 2nd ward, then we went to 20 min. of the 2nd Ward sacrament meeting before we started Ward Council for North Platte 1st Ward! Then we had the rest of the church meetings, followed by ward mission correlation. What that all adds up to is about 7 hours worth of meetings. And then dinner. And then work until 9. Day of rest? What rest? Don't worry, though--I'm not complaining! We had two reeeeeeally good lessons last night, so working hard totally pays off. 

What doesn't pay off? Having a cold. My throat is sore, and this morning I could hardly croak out,"Hello!" My voice is warming up, though, and it's a good thing today is P Day--perhaps by the time we have a lesson at 6 I will be able to say stuff! 

I try to remember things to tell you, and sometimes I forget what I wanted to say. I mean, each day is different, but it's kind of the same, you know? How many ways can I say, "So we talked to some people, they weren't interested, but then we talked to some other people who were, and then we talked to a few less active members, and then we went home and went to bed"? I hope this doesn't get boring. I'll try to think of some fun tidbits to share...

Have I mentioned that North Platte actually is in the flat part of Nebraska? It is. And we will be having a member of the Seventy visit the mission at the end of the month. I don't know what that means for us in North Platte specifically, but I think it should be exciting. 

Also? Everyone in Nebraska has a dog. Most likely they have multiple dogs. And I think I have decided I don't want a dog after all. They slobber, they bark, they run around, they chew on things, they bark, they ruin furniture, and they bark. Can you tell I don't like the barking? Maybe I'm just being a curmudgeon, but if people have dogs I wish they would train them. But then, people have kids, and they don't train THEM. But, yeah. Dogs are not growing on me. I think a pet rock sounds about right. 

One of our investigators asked us this week why we pray if God knows us, our thoughts, and the things we've done during the day. I've been thinking about it, and I think it has more to do with us showing gratitude and love than it is about making sure we fill in the details. It also gives us a chance to hear back from Heavenly Father. If we didn't ask a question, would he give an answer? I just know that I didn't get the answer to go on a mission until I asked what it was I should be doing. I certainly never would have come up with that answer on my own! So say prayers, people. You never know what Heavenly Father will say when you do!

I love you all and I am working on being a good missionary! Kiss all of the little ones for me! Snuggle them and remind them what Aunt Loradona looks like! 

Sister Loradona May
ps--I looooved the package, Mom! I have a snail mail letter dedicated to you all about it! I loooove packages! They are the best!

Another Week Gone! (From July 29th)

I'll start with what you are all wondering: Nope, no transfers for me! I'm still in North Platte, and I'm still with Sister Stiles. I kind of thought we wouldn't see any changes, since we were opening the area. But I couldn't assume anything since Sister Harris and I whitewashed Plattsmouth, and I was a newbie and STILL got transferred! But I'm glad to be sticking around North Platte. It's a good place to be. And I think the members still like us. :)
This week was a little bit exciting, what with transfers and all. Our zone leaders both left, one of them going home and the other going to Omaha to be an Assistant to the President. So we were without Zone Leaders for... three days? Then they made one of the Elders in our ward and his new companion Zone Leaders in the other ward, and our remaining Elder got a new missionary from the MTC. Fun times! 

Oh, and I turned into a defacto Wedding Planner this week. One of the Elders' investigators had to get married so she could get baptized, so we threw a wedding! Then the Relief Society President couldn't be there, and Sister Stiles was playing piano prelude, and then... the Bride asked me, "So, who walks in first, the ring bearer or the flower girls?" Uhhh... considering most of my (insignificant) wedding experience revolves around temple sealings where there aren't ring bearers or flower girls, I just took a stab in the dark and said, "Ring bearer." And suddenly I was the person the photographer asked where to stand to take photos, the person telling people when to walk down the aisle, and the person saying, "Okay, let's cut the cake!" Oh, man, it isn't as weird as the stuff that happened last week, but it was up there in weirdness. I never thought I would direct a wedding on my mission. 

It also, though, made me really appreciate the simplicity and beauty of temple marriages. Who needs a wedding planner when you've got the temple? And it has the added bonus of, y'know, being forever. 

Something I am really seeing and learning on my mission is the importance of staying true to the gospel and holding as tightly to the iron rod as possible. And also the importance of solid priesthood holders. I see families where the priesthood holder has let go, or where the family in general has let go of the rod, and then things don't go well. I mean, I think they see that their lives, in general, are fine. But they don't see what I see: that if they had held tightly to the gospel and sought it in faith, there would be so much more light in their lives. Without the gospel, they may see some success, but with the gospel, they would see joy, and their children would have so much more light. I think I am doing a horrible job of explaining what I mean, but I understand myself. 

So this translates to the following: Seek to be closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through the gospel. As you do, you will become more closely aligned with the commandments, and you will be happier. It's true. And if you do the opposite, the opposite happens. And I see it wherever I go. 

The last few days have made me a little homesick for Oregon: It has been in the 60s and rainy! I LOVE it! Today, I am actually wearing tights, and a sweater over a long sleeved shirt! Who knew this would happen to me in July? Ha! Don't worry--I won't get used to it. I fully anticipate that we will see 100 degree weather again before too long. 

What else? We went to Maxwell and Brady yesterday with the Relief Society President. That was pretty good. We met a couple of people we hadn't had the chance to meet. And because we have limited miles, we haven't been able to get out there. Speaking of limited miles, thanks to our trek out to Grand Island, we are over miles. So, booo to Grand Island! I have decided not to worry about it because it was a mandatory meeting, and we have been really really good with our miles otherwise. Next month is bound to be better, right?

We keep teaching people, and it is tough to get them to move forward in the gospel. They like what they hear and what we teach. But getting people to take an active role and actually DO something themselves is hard. One day we'll get our people to church! I'm working on my faith (so is Heavenly Father, apparently!). 

Anyway, I love you all! And a happy birthday to my favorite (this week) ladies, Calista and Ivy! Give those girls BIIIIG squeezes from me and make sure they know they're from me!

Sister Loradona May