Monday, October 28, 2013

Another Week Down!

Hola, familia!
I just like Spanish. It's fun. That has nothing to do with the rest of my letter. Or my week. Which was a good one! Did you all know that tomorrow is the date where I have a year remaining on my mission? Can you believe it? I think that's ridiculous. I feel like I've been gone for, maybe, 2 months. Not 6. Anyway, tomorrow is also our Zone Conference in Grand Island, NE, which my companion says is a weird name for a town that is neither Grand nor an Island. She makes me laugh. Also, I was asked yesterday to accompany some people for a musical number. I just got the music, oh, an hour or so ago, and I haven't yet played it, so say a prayer for me? I'm a little bit nervous. Sometimes I wonder why I said yes.... sigh. I'm a sucker, that's why...
But this week has been amaaaaazing! Our Tuesday was rock and roll. We went tracting and found a handful of new investigators--hooray! And then we got to go bowling with the FHE group because a less-active member was going. Then it turned out that some other people we'd been dying to meet were going, and then another girl brought a non-member friend, and it was the most fun I've had on my mission, hands down. I've got an awesome picture of me  in a skirt and bowling shoes. I'm classy; what can I say? I'll send it as soon as I can.
Then we started to have lessons with people this week, and then we went and stacked more hay! And I have photographic evidence this time! Hooray! I will get those sent, and then you can see me sitting on some alfalfa. After the service, we had a dinner appointment, and we went straight there in our grubby clothes and alfalfa in our hair (and maybe teeth? I will neither confirm nor deny). We asked to change in their bathroom, and when I did, I left bits of alfalfa everywhere. Oops. I offered to sweep, and Sister Hall just laughed at me. I think she thought it was charming that I was worried about some grass when she has several small kids running about, and grass bits are the least of her worries most days.
We also were able to help the Elders out by inviting one of the members they've been working with to Institute--and then he came! It was awesome! He said he hadn't been to church in 14ish years, and it was just awesome that he was there. Some days, it feels like life is amazing. There are definitely reasons why I am here in Kearney right now. There are people that need my example (such as it is) and who I am, and while the work is still hard, it is gratifying to know that Heavenly Father's plan is working. I am doing the things I need to do, and there are little things every day that help me remember why I'm here and doing those things.
Yesterday was Stake Conference, and President and Sister Weston came and spoke! I wasn't expecting to see them, but it was great! I love them, and it was good to see them. I get to see them tomorrow at Zone Conference, too, so I feel extra special. Also, I told Sister Weston (and I keep forgetting to tell you, too) that my foot is 100% better, in case anyone was worried still. Sister Weston was, and so I am glad I remembered to mention it to her.
Also, at conference there were 3 youth-ish speakers. 2 were youth, and 1 was a convert of almost 6 months from the YSA branch, and all of them were powerful. Their talks were probably my favorite of the entire session, and they each talked about their conversion, in a way. Of course, the recent convert talked about his conversion and how he came to realize he was supposed to join the church. One young woman talked about how she learned to turn to the gospel and prayer to be reactivated in church, and then the third young woman talked about how Seminary has influenced her life and conversion. She was funny--She talked about how when she used to read Jacob 5, "I was, like, 80 pages about trees! Why would you spend 80 pages on trees?" And then she realized, through Seminary, that it wasn't really about trees.
I think that's a lot of life--things happen to us, and we focus on them superficially. "Why am I reading 80 pages about trees right now?" we wonder. We think that it's a waste to spend that time on 80 pages of trees. Instead, if we look at them in a different way, suddenly it isn't 80 pages about trees, but one brief chapter where we can learn so much about what we need to do and who we are. So stop complaining about 80 pages of trees and focus on why Heavenly Father asks to to read those pages!
Nebraska continues to be lovely, if cold and windy. No snow yet, and I am not complaining--not in the least! Snow can hold off for quite a while, thank you very much! I think the snow will be pretty--at first. And then I will be bored of it. I will want to just fast forward to Spring. But hey, just like you can't fast forward through 80 pages of trees, you can't fast forward through winter. Instead, just think lots of warm thoughts about me, and maybe that will keep me warm? I'm just glad I only have one winter that I have to wear skirts through. Seriously, whoever thought skirts in winter was a good idea should be put in the stocks.
I love you and can't wait to hear from you all again soon! Wish me lots of luck and blessings as I play the piano tomorrow!
Sister Loradona May

Monday, October 21, 2013

And The Verdict Is....

... I'm staying in Kearney! I didn't think I'd be leaving, so it isn't really a surprise. But I thought I'd lead off with that, just so you know for sure where I am. So you can still go to Google Earth or whatnot and spy on Kearney from space.
Kearney loves me, it seems. The Branch President told me he requested that I spend the rest of my mission in Kearney, and the Bishop of the family ward is trying to get me married off to one of the members of the YSA, not that that's awkward for a missionary or anything. Forget the fact that I'm not actually a YSA. Or that I'm really not thinking about that right now. Or that I would even want to marry anyone here. Sigh. Another banner week in Kearney! (Don't worry, Mom. I have no intention of marrying anyone any time soon, and of course I'll return to Oregon after my mission. I don't love Nebraska that much, though I do love it, oddly enough!)
We learned of transfers on Tuesday at district meeting, and no one in Kearney moved or changed or anything, but one of the Kearney Elders did become our new District Leader. Fun fact: Sister May has had a different District Leader for every single transfer of her mission! The first one I left because of transfers, the second one left because he was transferred, then the next one went home because he ended his mission, then the one I just had got transferred to Lincoln. It's cool, though. Change can be fun. Plus, our new District Leader seems like he'll do a good job. I don't think I've had a bad one yet, though one was kind of scary, and one was super trunky. But they've all been good.
One of the cool thing about working with the YSA is that we get to encourage them to attend Institute and then we go ourselves. That's really fun. We're always trying to get our less active and more recent converts to attend, as well as the regular members. It's slow, but more people have come the last couple of weeks. We're working on it and trying to build the numbers.
We're also trying to build the Saturday night game night into a missionary tool that people can invite their friends to as a way to get nonmembers inside the building. Sometimes it's easier to come to church if you've already been inside, even if you've just been into the gym to play basketball or Uno.
I spoke on Sunday! I spoke about faith and building faith, and acting in faith. Sometimes, you need to act before you can be blessed. Heavenly Father blesses us when we take steps forward ourselves, in faith, believing we can do what we need to do. I think it's time to invent a new word: faithing. I know, I know, as Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes would say, "Verbing weirds language." (Go do a Google search for that cartoon; you'll like it. Now back to our regularly scheduled letter.) But I think since everyone always says, "Faith is an action!" that we should make it an action word already. So I can go faith, or do some faithing. I am going to faith this week, and I hope you all faith this week, too. Faith with me, people!
We had a cool experience last night, teaching someone we've been trying to get back into contact with for ages, and we taught him and his roommate, and we get to go back next week, too! So we're making tiny steps of progress.
It's starting to be cold out here. I mean, it isn't freezing or anything, but it is chilly. So: Mom can send me a few scarves. Also? I find that I am wearing tights every single day. I am such a weather wimp. Last Monday, it rained so hard that water started pouring through our window! Luckily Sister Gulledge and I were sitting on the sofa writing letters when it happened, so we could just jump up and put towels all around the window. It certainly made for an exciting afternoon. We called the property manager, who was stymied. They said they would send someone to fix it.... but that hasn't happened yet. That's okay--it hasn't rained since then, so we haven't worried about floods. But I am mildly concerned, should it ever start to pour like that again.
Ummm... I feel like I am forgetting something. I'm sure I am. But that's the gist of the week. I love you all! Seriously, so much! And I love the pictures that you send me in my email and in letters--it's awesome!
One more Fun Fact: Last Thursday was my 6 month anniversary for entering the MTC, and today is Sister Gulledge's 2 month anniversary for entering the MTC, so we're celebrating today! Hooray! Next week is zone conference, so that should be fun. I'll tell you all about it in.. 2 weeks. Eh. I am sure it will be amaaaaazing!
I'll write to you next week! I hope you all have a good week and I love you!
Sister Loradona May

Monday, October 14, 2013

Kearney Continues!

We last left our heroine deep in the wilds of Kearney, Nebraska. What adventures lie in store for her this week? Let us begin our episode where we last saw her: Confused about what was happening with a training in Lincoln!
So. For some reason, we didn't make our own travel plans, but instead, three different sets of Elders were involved in our travel plans? Which meant that no one really knew what we were doing. We were initially told to travel to Lincoln Monday night and stay with one set of Sisters, but then we were told to stay with a different set of Sisters, and then we were told to travel Tuesday morning, and then we threw up our hands and gave up. And just when we gave up, we heard to stay with the second set of sisters on Monday night. Okay, we said, we can do that. We went to where one set of Sisters in Lincoln lives Monday night, and when we arrived, they said we thought we were staying with the other Sisters! Oy. It was fine, though. Just confusing. That's what happens when six people make travel plans, and none of those people are the ones either traveling or providing lodging. Lesson learned: Take deep breaths. Lots of them. And try not to be a basket case.
The training in Lincoln was good, though. We got the chance to see and hear from our mission president, which is always good. Always. Maybe I will learn eventually how not to be a basket case! That would be nice. Anyway, we had a good training, I got to see Sister Stiles again, which was fun, and we all got to enjoy being trained by the Assistants to the President which, again, is always enjoyable.
The rest of the week was really weird--we were able to see a lot of our less-active members and a lot of our recent converts, but teaching people who are new investigators (or even old investigators) was tough. It's like they all went into the witness protection program and we can't quite get a hold of them. Time to find new ones, I think? Time to get to work, is what that means.
We made cookies for a few people this week, and you know what that means: People love us! Whenever you make cookies, people have a softer place in their hearts for you. We hope.
We had more dinners with members last week, which was good, but it's the same four families every ding dong time. So let me just say: If it's been a while since you've fed the missionaries, feed them. Buy them a pizza. Something. It makes them feel loved. But what they really love is eating in your home. I guarantee it.
Don't get me wrong--I'm not starving! But eating with members allows you to feel like a part of the family. And that's sometimes something missionaries miss. Not me of course--I miss no one! I have a heart of cold, cold stone! But other missionaries miss people. Me? I throw darts at your pictures. I'm kidding! Kidding! I miss you all. There are no darts. But I'm serious about the meals.
This week is transfers, but it's a little wonky--instead of finding out on Thursday and transfer on Friday, we find out Tuesday and transfer on Wednesday. Tuesday is tomorrow, people! I'm fairly certain I'm staying put, since I'm still training Sister Gulledge. But you never know. I can make no predictions! So you'll just have to wait until next week to find out.

The strange schedule means that we're having district meeting on Tuesday this week, which will mean if people are getting transferred, we'll know at district meeting and we'll get to say our good byes. We know for sure we're getting a new Zone Leader, because one of them is going home. But other than that, I know of nothing! But I'm looking forward to district meeting--they're always good. And as far as I know, I won't be training! I will, however, get to speak in church on Sunday, so you know, that's awesome. Topic? I don't know! I get to choose it apparently, so that's new and unusual. Have I chosen it yet? Nope. Hopefully I'll get it sorted out soon.
Anyway, I love you all, and I hope you all have a lovely Columbus Day or Canadian Thanksgiving, whichever you prefer to celebrate today!
Sister Loradona May

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Hay is for Horses! And Missionaries!

This week? This week was weird. It started off so strong, with some appointments with people we'd really been hoping to see, and even one person seeing us on campus, walking up to us, and saying he could meet that night (we'd been trying to meet with him for aaaaages!). And then it started to kind of fizzle out: people cancelled, forgot, or flaked out. The weather started to get cold. And windy. And we struggled to really teach people.
But don't worry. Life is still good. I gave a training in District Meeting this last week, all about faith and my favorite chapter of the Book of Mormon, Alma 32! Hooray! Plant a seed, y'all. Plant a seed. And then nourish it. And I hope Jeanette doesn't kill me, but I told her "It is moldy" story as part of my training. Nourish your seed, but don't let it get moldy! Give it the right attention, don't let it sit there doing nothing. Anyway, the story got a big laugh. Now, if only I could find a way to work in her story of the dirty socks... (I happen to think Jeanette stories are the best. They are just so funny to me!)
Then on Thursday we went to a home for dinner, and they live on an farm with some horses and a cow and a couple of calves. And after dinner, she asked if we would help feed the animals since her husband was out of town. Would we? Oh yes! So I have had some authentic Nebraska experiences, folks. I have fed horses while wearing a skirt. And I have helped chase a cow in an enclosure to get her into the cattle chute so the calves could feed (they aren't her calves, so she sometimes won't let them feed, but she sure loves to pester them and make sure they go where she wants). And I have helped coax a horse over an (insulated) electric wire so he would go to a lower pasture. And when I got home, there was alfalfa and hay all down my shirt. So, you know, I'm living the dream.
Then on Saturday, we got a call from this sister again: would we come after conference to help put the last of the hay up? It was baled and out in the field (the elders had helped with a bunch of it earlier in the week, but there was more to do), and she had received word of possible rain and snow to come, and there were still a bunch of hay to get to the barn. So Sister Gulledge and I put on our jeans and bundled up (did I mention that it turned to fall this week? It's chilly, people. Chilly.) and headed out to help with the hay. So we gathered hay into the truck, and then stacked it in the barn. Fun times! Again with the hay all down my shirt... Oy. And down my pants. And in my teeth. You would think I had been trying a snack of it myself! Alas, nope. The wind just blew it into my face, and sometimes your mouth is open so you can breathe, you know? And so you accidentally ingest some hay. That may or may not have happened. I will neither confirm nor deny.
When we arrived home, we were cold and tired, so we went to turn on the heat for the first time, and the breaker blew and put the power out for our apartment. We sat in the dark and waited for the maintenance guy to come and put things to right. Apparently there was a second breaker that is outside our apartment that had also flipped. Oy. That's okay, though. It all works out. We now have heat and lights and we are doing splendidly.
Let's talk about conference, though. What did you all like? I loved so much of it! I liked Elder Holland's, President Uchtdorf's, and Elder Dube's talks the most--though I think Elder Ochoa's was right up there. I think the thing that I really liked the most was President Uchtdorf's saying, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." I think someone should put that on a big ol' billboard with flashing lights. Faith is so much more helpful than doubts. Doubts just make you sad, but faith makes you hopeful. Be hopeful, not sad, okay? Sad is just... sad! I am hopeful! And I love you all! Keep up being awesome! And I love your letters and emails. They make me happy.
Tomorrow we travel to Lincoln for a training. Wish us luck and safe travels!
Sister Loradona May

In Which I Serve

So. First of all, everything I was going to write flew out of my head because I opened my email to see a million and one photographs of baby Craig! How fun is that? I'll answer that: Amazingly fun! I love the pictures and I love getting them in emails and in letters. They make my day! Plus I have fun showing them to the other missionaries, so that's awesome.
This week has been good. We still struggle with what to do when it gets dark and we don't have appointments. Only a few of the members live in Kearney proper, so that makes drop ins difficult, and we keep trying to make appointments first for the evening hours, but that's hard, too. But we must be doing good work, regardless, because the Branch President asked us to go visit a friend of his. So I take that as a good sign.
We still struggle getting investigators to church. We're working on it. I really want some to come this Sunday to conference. You all should invite people to conference! It would be cool! Plus, just think: We will all be watching conference together, no matter where we are! It makes me think of the little mouse from An American Tail--sniff! That song always gets me.
This weekend we did service pretty much all day on Saturday. It started at 4 am so we could be at the University of Nebraska Kearney by 5 to help set up for the local Race for the Cure. The bishop of the family ward was the director of the race, so he conscripted all 6 of us missionaries into  service for him--and we were happy to do it! Plus, we all got free t-shirts out of the deal--score! I love a free t-shirt.
It was also freeeeeezing! Not literally. But it was 47, which was the coldest it's been yet. The day warmed up, but not while we were putting up signs along the race route and carrying cases of bottled water around. My fingers were a little cold. But it was good.
Then we got to help tear everything down. So, you know, life moves on!
Afterward, we went home and had a lunchtime nap (or was it a naptime lunch? I don't know. You decide) and then studied for a bit before heading out to help an investigator and her member boyfriend pack up and move. So we basically stayed in service clothes all day long, until it was finally time to shower and go to the Relief Society broadcast. Which was, naturally, awesome. I hope my mother and sisters went (hint hint?). Because it was good.
Also, this week, we had some success with tracting. A little bit, anyway. We've been doing a lot of it because, what else do we have to do when we don't have people to teach? We have to try to find people on our own. Now, here's a reminder: tracting is the least effective way to find people who need to know about the gospel. Plus it can get discouraging when people don't really want to  know more. The most effective way is when people invite people they already know to come to church or to meet with missionaries. Just invite people. Don't make it more difficult than it has to be; just ask people. That's all missionaries do. Here's an article that might help you:
I found it while reading old Ensigns this week and I immediately thought how much people need to just relax about missionary work and not make it a big deal. Just ask people, and if they say no, no big deal. It will be fine!
I feel like I talk about that all the time. Sorry if I get boring. I am doing well, though! I just keep working. Nothing else to do, is there? Just know that I love you all, and I can't wait to hear from you all more. To quote Sister Baird: Whopdeedoo, the Gospel's true!
Sister Loradona May

Checking in for another week!

So: Life in Kearney is good. We have an investigator set for baptism in October, but he didn't come to church on Sunday, which just about broke my heart. Just come to church people! I'd like to take this opportunity to quote Cab Calloway from the Blues Brothers: "You boys could use a little churchin' up. You get wise; you get to church!" That's truth, folks. Truth.
We visited some folks in Grand Island this week, had a district meeting, and met someone who is a professional fighter. We told him he might be the awesomest person we've met yet, and he told us how his front teeth are all fake. Fun times in Kearney! We also, you know, talked to him about the Book of Mormon and how that is probably the most important thing he'll read.
We also gave out approximately eleventy bajillion copies of the Book of Mormon this week so we can work on following up with people and helping them to learn more about the gospel.
The weather is starting to turn towards fall, which is kind of lovely. I adore fall! The leaves are beautiful, and it kind of reminds me of Oregon--the mornings are cool, the skies are blue, and by afternoon it's sunny and warm! Hallelujah! (Well, that was what it was like yesterday, anyhow).
We have done a LOT of random knocking and tracting this week. It's hard, but it's good. And I am gradually overcoming my fear of knocking on a door and asking people to read the book of Mormon. It's hard to do, you know? In fact, my fear of tracting was a large reason why I decided that a mission was not for me when I was 21. Mission? Tracting? Who wants to do THAT? Well, I still don't want to do tracting, but it doesn't scare me anymore, either. I think it's a big reason why help from church members is integral--it's so much easier to go up to someone and say, "Hey, you know Sally Jones? She was thinking about you, and how much she values your friendship, and she thought we should share our message with you" than to knock on a door and say, "Hey, you don't know me, and this is crazy, but read this book, and call me, maybe?" (HA! I crack myself up sometimes.) So. If you have a friend, acquaintance, or neighbor, ask them over and invite the missionaries. Share some ice cream all around, and then talk about Jesus, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon. And if nothing comes of it but a nice discussion while you eat ice cream, that's fine. At least you had some delicious ice cream! But you never know: something more might happen. You should all pray for an idea of whom you could invite to eat ice cream and meet your missionaries. It's a good idea. Besides, I can bear testimony to you that missionaries like ice cream, but lessons in a member's home are even better.
Ahem, where was I? In Kearney! You know who else was in Kearney this weekend? My mission president and his wife! President and Sister Weston came to Kearney on the invitation of one of the ward members? I forget exactly why, but it was great. I love seeing the Westons. And President Weston just cares for us so much. He wants to inspire us and help us to teach. And Sister Weston is just the best Mission Mom ever! (Don't worry, Mom, you're not being replaced! Just supplemented!) It's great to see her and get a Mom Hug from her and just feel how much they love us. And then they spoke to the Kearney Ward and the YSA Branch in a combined Sacrament Meeting, and it was great. I was reminded of why I am here: I love the gospel, I love the people, so why not combine the two so that the people I love can have the gospel? To go back to my obsession with ice cream, it's like saying, I love brownies, and I love ice cream, so let's combine them! Yay! I was also reminded of the scripture in 1 John (I think) that says that perfect love casts out fear. As I love people and the gospel, my fear (remember my fear of tracting?) is cast out. Take THAT! Hi-yah!
Basically, Kearney is lovely and wonderful. I'm still trying to work out how best to find people and work with the members, but it's good.

Today I am going shopping for a coat and perhaps a few other winter items. I bought a sweater at Goodwill last week, so that's one down! Today we are off to the mall to see if there are any other items to be had! Like a coat. Or maybe boots. I can't wait until I am ready for the snow, then perhaps I won't worry about my lack of a coat.
Seriously, people, I love you. You are some good family. Take care of each other, call each other, and I will try to write some letters today to send out! Wish me luck!
Sister Loradona May