It's been so long since I've written an actual email I hardly remember what I used to write!
We've been doing a lot of finding lately and building member trust. We've been working a lot with the members and it really feels like home.
Wednesday we went to do service for Amber. Unfortunately, she cancelled but it was okay because we went and helped Paul build a retaining wall. He had jokingly asked if we wanted to help and we were more than happy. I mean come on, digging up ancient cinder blocks and chipping away at the dirt? It was awesome. Paul was actually almost baptized in Hood River, and so for the 2 and a half hours we dug, we talked all about the church. We asked him all about what he knew, why he wasn't baptized and he just kept talking and talking. It was really really cool to me to see that there are so many people that are prepared for the gospel. In the scriptures it talks about how there are so many who are searching for the truth but are kept from it because they know not where to find it. On Sunday he came to church because we were playing a violin duet and he spent the next two hours talking with different priesthood holders. Once, we walked by and heard him say, "I know it's true, I just have some things I need to get figured out." It honestly is such a blessing to be a part of this work. We don't even do anything and the Lord allows us to bring to pass the salvation of many souls.
Thursday we were able to go back and do service for Amber. It was raining and cold but we loved planting chicken and hens, washing out pots, missing the pots and soaking our feet, clipping off twigs to make garden sticks, it was wonderful. Before my mission I loved to serve but truly I have learned to love it with all my heart here. It can be snowing, raining, 107 degrees, NO IMPORTA. Service is literally my favorite thing to do. AND Amber came to church on Sunday! Again, because we were playing the violins (because how awesome is it that Sister Hull and I BOTH play the violins I mean so cool) but one of the talks was meant for her. She's so cute and funny, when we invited her she asked, "But none of them are going to try and convert me right?" We assured her that they would just be nice :) And she loved it! Hopefully she'll keep coming. But service. Service is the key :)
Thursday we also went out to Lyle, one of the many surrounding towns in our area to meet with a less active that turned out to be sick. So we stopped by a member to see if she had suggestions for where we should knock. We ended up sitting and talking with her for a while, we could tell she really just needed to talk. I love her so much. She is a returned missionary and has 4 kids I think. She told us a story about her stroller being stolen and how she knows it shouldn't bug her but her inner mommy won't let it go. "I was so desperate to get another stroller, I found one on Craiglist and immediately loaded the kids up to go to Portland (2 hours away) but I didn't have any cash so I grabbed all of the yard sale money, a bunch of ones and I had 57 with a bunch of quarters which was perfect but then I had to cross the bridge and there went a dollar and NO ONE would let me get cash off of my card and I only had 15 minutes left and I finally just broke down and said 'Please I just need some cash!!' and the lady said 'well how much do you need?' and I said ' a dollar' and she said 'oh well here! just take it!' and then I started crying and said 'You made me realize that not everyone steals strollers!!'" We were all in hysterics and she gave us a couple of people to stop by but more importantly, I'm glad we stopped by to help her. Sometimes we all need a little bit of a hysterical moment.
On Friday night we helped a young couple clean the church. It's odd here, they have one family clean it a week and there are only two of them so we offered to help. I learned then that there are lots of different ways to earn member trust. Sometimes it's service, being really serious, and other times it's messing around with the vacuum with your companion and accidentally sucking up your skirt as they turn the corner. #missionaccomplished.
Saturday - So when I grow up and am old I hope that I am the kind of lady that invites a couple of young whippersnapper missionaries to her turkey dinner with a bunch of other old lady friends. Mary, a less active due to health, had us over with a couple of her non member friends and we had a blast. We talked about the Doctrine of Christ and sat in and listened to them bicker about how many boyfriends Linda really had. Then we talked about baptism. It was kind of awesome. Actually it was really awesome and I am so grateful that she invited us. Linda is actually sweetest little lady I have ever met, she was recently baptized as a Methodist but she loved listening to the scriptures we read from 2 Nephi 31.
Other quotes of the week:
"Fins have Aspergers"
"Dolphins have Aspergers?"
"My wife had kids and it's like the dog had puppies."
He turned it around with a really tender story about the said children catching fish and being so proud and showing him. He also said, "There's something to the eternities. It's literally in our genetics." kind of cool.
"Yeah, I mean we're all children of God"
"No we're not. You would know that if you read your scriptures."
#scaryladiesbehindreallyprettypinkdoors. I've learned a new meaning to the scripture "Pray for them that curse you". I had walked away from that door trying not to cry at the brutality but after praying that she would have a nice day for the last couple of nights, I love her enough to knock on her door again.
"Yeah, we're not interested."
There were some other really neat experiences that ironically taught me that we really are all children of God. The (codename) Nimma's are a family that we have been working with for a long time. We visit them twice a week, reading the scriptures with them and helping them grow in their conversion. We're finally bringing back Art and Tyler! Tyler has even given us some of his friends to go visit. Sunday morning we were so excited to see them at church but they never showed up. We went that night to see if everything was okay and they told us about his sister codename Curly who has bipolar disorder. That morning they had all been dressed and ready to go, Tyler, Art, Dottie but as they were about to leave something triggered Curly and ultimately led to them being unable to go to church. It was so hard to feel their pain, to feel the pain the Curly must have and to know that they had been trying their best to go back to church but were unable because when we are doing good, Satan tries even harder to prevent us from receiving those blessings. I know that if nothing else good comes from me being in White Salmon, I have at least been sent for their little family. I love them so much I can hardly believe it and every time I see them trucking along, getting back on their feet I want to give them all the biggest hug in the entire world but I can only hug Dottie so we hug her a lot.
The Lord is so good to us. I'm so grateful to hear that little ole' Jackson, MO is coming together, uniting in Christ. Christ truly is the path to happiness and it brings me such hope to hear that there are still places that are fighting for what they believe by simply rejoicing in the gift that it is.
I love you all and am so grateful for the letters and emails and I am so sorry that I am terrible at writing back. Love you!!