Oh man, I hope you are all waiting in crazed anticipation for my first area! I'll let you wait it out a little longer, since it's been a while since we've spoken. Lots has happened in these last two weeks!
MTC life has come and gone- can you even believe it? My last six days there were long and nerve-wracking, all to prep for our arrival in the field. We taught a few more lessons, none especially profound or meaningful (and don't even judge me, I had to pack up my whole life and fly to this random place). We got devotional'd by Sheri Dew on Sunday, so cool. My comp wasn't super impressed, but you know how I love powerful women in well-tailored blazers. It's a weakness. She gave such a great talk about using obedience to open the powers of heaven and allow Heavenly Father to pour out His blessings unto you...and other crazily profound things. It was great.
Monday and Tuesday at the MTC were a little rough. Our dear sweet roommates shipped out early Tuesday morning, and Sis Shutt and I used Tuesday to mourn that loss. It was pretty heartbreaking. We wrapped at lunch, which made the burden a little lighter, and took a brief midday nap post packing nap, which was glorious...but we were both feeling antsy to go. The MTC is great- incredible, even- but oh man, I was ready to get to North Dakota.
At the end of our rather upsetting last day, Russell M. Nelson gave the Tuesday night devotional! AHHH! Such a sweet tender mercy and a testimony builder of why we stuck around an extra day. It was such a cool experience.
OKAY, now the good stuff. The stuff we've all been waiting for. We bused outta the MTC early Wednesday morning, caught our flight to Minneapolis, got onto our connecting flight to Bismarck (in the world's smallest commercial plane), and met the greatest Mission President eva. I love President Hess. He's the exact president I need, as cheesy as that sounds. We went to their adorable little home on the outskirts of Bismarck, right next to the temple, where we feasted on taco pizza. It just felt like home the minute Sister Hess asked us to take our shoes off before coming in. I almost broke down- I'm not even joking. Such a Robinson move, ya know? We have great APs, and I was reminded that great missionaries are send everywhere, even Bismarck, ND. I feel so humbled and blessed to serve here. In Bismarck, crickets chirp all the time because it's just so quiet. There is so much open space here, even though it's the second biggest city in ND (Fargo is the winner, of course- and the real reason is that they have the only Panda Express in the mission. One day I'll eat there, let there be no mistake of that). Anyway, enough about how much I already love my mission. Did I mention that? I already love my mission. It's so incredible, and it's exactly where I need to be.
|a bus selfie one the way to the airport|
|My first views of North Dakota (because it seemed like we were going to land in the farmlands and it was concerning)|
Just general small town ND adorableness.
So, that first night in the mission home, we each met with Pres. Hess and he and the APs decided that night where we were going and with who. The stress! I got assigned to... everyone ready? The moment we've all be waiting for... BEULAH, ND! It's the greatest area, I'm convinced. I'm here with Sister Finlinson from Utah, and we are the first sisters ever to be here. I feel so humbled to be here, and I can't really believe that the Lord trusts me to pink wash my first area. It's outta control!
|Me and my sweet mission President (the new loves of my life- step aside, Edgar!)|
|All the sisters falling asleep on their incredible carpet|
|Me and the Bismarck temple|
|Me, my trainer, and my trainer's trainer in front of the temple|
Alright, mystery is over. Beulah is about an hour and a half away from Bismarck, a good 45 minutes from the freeway, and surrounded by sunflower fields. That's another thing about good ol' ND- they harvest sunflowers in the summer. I'll send some pictures, because it's the coolest. Beulah has maybe 5,000 people, but we cover all the little towns around us, too. On Thursday night, after getting settled in the elder's old apartment (someone give me an "ewwwww"), the Billman’s called and asked if they could meet us at Subway in Beulah and get us some dinner. Sis Billman in the Relief Society president, and Bro Billman is in the Branch Presidency. They brought us subs and went through the whole branch list with us to orient us with the area. They live 45 minutes away in Hebron, but they were so willing to hang out with us and welcome us. We're learning pretty quick that people here are just so good and nice and genuine. I love the Billman’s so much already, and I am so grateful for such good people that take care of their missionaries.
So, let's talk our area. We live in Beulah, which is sort of the center, and we have members and potentials from Halliday to Center to Glen Ullin and everything in between. I know that those names don't mean anything to you city folk, but go google them or whatever. It's pretty crazy! Huge area, and we get 2,000 miles a month. Pres Hess and our ZLs reminded us that we are given way less miles than we need, so that we have to rely on members and build relationships of service. It's fine, it's good, and I need to be more willing to accept help and let people serve me. I have to here, which is good...but oh man. It's sometimes hard.
We met the Whitley family on Friday, who have a turquoise piano with a huge picture of the Grand Canyon above it. Adorable. They met while at BYU-Hawaii, and they are just the kindest people. Sis Whitley drove us around Beulah and gave us the grand tour. Beulah is juts the cutest, complete with a greenhouse and an adorable little post office.
Friday night, we went to the Lee's for dinner. Sis Lee and all her kiddos are members, but her husband is not. He has been meeting with missionaries for 4 years, and has taken the all the lessons at least seven times (since the missionaries have been in Beulah). BUT, he just quit smoking and seems super ready to make a change in his life...so I'll keep you updated on Brother Lee. We meet with him again tomorrow, and I'm hoping for some success. We'll see what happens. The Towes also came to dinner, and I was so impressed with both of them. The people here are hard workers and so humble, and they understand the gospel like no one I've ever met. We taught about finding strength through the Atonement and relying on Christ through faith, and Sis Lee and Towe shared such inspired insight.
On our way back to Beulah, we called up Branch President Thueson to ask for priesthood blessings. Sister Finlinson gets one at every new area she serves in, and he was super excited to do that for us. He is just the greatest. He has all girls, and I can't wait to eat over there and get to know them better. He told us that he has been bugging Pres Hess about getting sisters for years, and I feel so honored to be those sisters.
Alright, onto Saturday, We're making good progress- it helps that we have two hours to email here! Yahoo! I'll big email with time left over to reply to all the little guys. I'm super excited. Anyway, Saturday. We planned and studied and prayed (incessantly) before conferencing calling with all the other newbies in our zone. We talked for an hour and then headed over to the Roundy's house, who give us fresh milk and eggs every week. They are such a great family- one of my faves so far, for sure. Is it legal to have favorite fams? Probably not. It's fine, though. I love the Roundys and I don't even feel bad about it. Their daughter Liberty is preparing to serve, and their oldest son juts got back from his mission in Mexico City East! Such a small little Mormon world we live in. I loved talking with them. And also, fresh milk is my new jam. It may even be better than BYU milk, people. It is truly glorious and I feel truly blessed. Beulah is just the greatest!
We weekly planned for about three years after that, and we still aren't super sure about how to process. Pink washing is just hard, but we're getting there. We have our work cut out for us here, for sure. We went to the Coots for dinner, and we met the other branch members in Hebron at a park. It was great! The Coots are transplants from Arizona, and they are super sweet. They have a three month old baby that I was dying to hold all night, but alas, exact obedience is a thing. It was so good to meet more members and feel of their love for missionary work.
Yesterday was a little less crazy, and it was nice to take a break after loads of busy the past few days. Church starts at eleven here, and it was pretty blissful. The chapel room is also where gospel doctrine takes place, but the back gets sectioned off into two Sunday school rooms. It's just a teeney weeney little building, but we're hoping that will change soon enough. After block, we met with President Thueson and got blessings. I was a little skeptical, but it was exactly what I needed. The spirit was so strong that I could barely breathe, and it was so humbling. I just love this branch and this area, in case you didn't know already.
We went to the Scheer's for dinner, and they are just great. They have a daughter on a mission in Tacoma (again, such a small Mormon world we live in) and they are so excited to have sisters. Sis Scheer served her mission in Jacksonville, Florida, and she wants to young women to get involved in the work and come with us. Yay! My big lesson learned on Sunday was that the Lord knows me and my needs individually- and He knows when I need some homemade bread, cookie brownie sandwiches (11 year old Matthew's creation- just shove a brownie between two cookies, dontcha know), and a strong family of six with a daughter out. It was just tender mercy upon tender mercy, and I know Heavenly Father hears and answers out prayers, even when they feel insignificant.
I love you all so so much, and reading your emails today brought me such joy! I have some rather upsetting news- the mission office address is wrong! AHH! It's not too big of a deal, but the real address is : 101 Slate Drive Ste.7, Bismarck, ND 58503. AND, my new apartment address is: 621 7th Street NW #11, Beulah, ND 58523. Write and send and keep me company out here in small town North Dakota! Thank you for filling me in on all your adventures, and I'll talk to you again next Monday. Also, the accents here are 100% real. It's the greatest.