Oh man, I can't believe it's already week three. Where did the time go? I feel like I went into the MTC yesterday, and now I'm coming up on a month. It's pretty cray cray. But, life here is so good.
Just look at this sign. How could it not be good?! :)
One of the aforementioned cute lawn decorations :)
Tuesday was such a good day. In my journal, I wrote, "This may just be my favorite day of the mish thus far". It really was a great day. We did our norm routine of breakfast and study, and did service at the local park afterwards. We left for out first real life lesson with the Lees after that, and it was such a good lesson. SUCH a good lesson. I love the Lee family, and I love Brother Lee, but I really hope he honestly prays about it and has a sincere desire to know. He has been meeting with missionaries forever, and we really had no idea he needed. We talked through most of the lesson about expectations and missionaries and church. Just talking is my favorite way to teach. We came to realize that, even though he has met with every set of missionaries in Beulah, he has never prayed about what the missionaries have taught him. It's so crazy that, beneath all the excuses, all he needs to do is pray. So, let's all pray for some prayer.
After meeting with the Lees, we stopped by the Clines, an adorable member family that also lives in Hazen (lol, makes me laugh everytime). They have three girls, Riley, Kiley, and Miley...which makes things tricky. But, so sweet. Sister Cline is all personality, and I just laughed through the whole appointment. Such a tender mercy.
We went around Hazen trying to meet less actives and potentials after the Clines, but no one was answering. On a whim, we tried Courtney Dobson, who lives on the outskirts of town. We had to ask her neighbors where exactly she lives, and when we pulled up to her house, we were bombarded by a pack of dogs. We both jumped back into the car, fearing our lives, with Sister Dobson comes running out of her house to subdue the killers. She invites us in and we chatted about the church and missionaries and life. She really honestly told us that she and her non-member fiancé had a bad experience with missionaries a couple years back and hasn't been to church since- and then casually brought up her desire to be married in the temple. We can do that for you, Courtney! We shared a scripture with her about grace, during which she leaped from her chair and grabbed her copy of "Amazed by Grace" by Sheri Dew, demanding that we read it and return it to her when we come back for dinner next Wednesday. Say no more, Courtney! I'm stoked to go back and eat dinner- at a time she knew her fiancé would be home. Yahoo! We checked out the area book when we got back that night, and found out that the Elders taught her fiancé about the temple and sealing’s on the first visit. L Can I get a group groan? But, there's definitely hope. Anyone that lets you borrow a Sheri Dew book is a winner, if you ask me.
We street contacted (yikes) before heading to the Wieland’s for dinner, who reminded me so much of the Stuckis. I don't even know why, but I was feeling it. I think Heavenly Father put me here because so many people remind me of home, and He knew I would need that. Anyway, the Wieland’s are incredible. Bro Wieland joined two years ago in October, and he is already the Elder's Quorum President. They're just the greatest. He met with the missionaries on and off for 35 years, and no one could answer his questions. Finally, when Elder Lott and Elder Reynolds (Beulah's first missionaries) came, they answered his questions and worked with his needs. Once his questions about the Bible and Book of Mormon were answered, he was baptized. They went through the temple and were sealed since then, and Elder Lott came up for that. Such a tender story. I just love the Wieland’s. They told us a good 15 times before dinner that they will feed us if no one signs up. And then, just as we are about to dig into our tacos, Sister Wieland ask about out laundry situation, and told us we have to come to their house to do it. Such a tender mercy! After being taught by them about the Book of Mormon, we got two jars of jam and their cell phone numbers in case we need anything. Incredible family- thank heavens for good people with laundry machines!
We drove home reading our borrowed book and feeling so full and edified from such a great day. We stopped by one more member family before calling it a night, and then blissfully planned and contemplated Wednesday.
We began our Wednesday adventures with the morning ritual and a visit with Sister Stillson. She'll be 94 at the end of the month, and she is delightful. Sister Finlinson said on our way out that she was about to fall asleep, because she felt so safe and spiritual. It was a nice little visit.
We tried a few more potentials after that, none of which felt super safe...so we decided to go to the local newspaper. And boy, that was quite an experience. We walk in there, strutting our sister missionary stuff and feeling pretty invincible after a lovely member visit. We start trying to articulate why exactly we are here in town, and the lady is just not having it. She walks into the reporter's office, who decides we deserve to be heard out. We proceed to enter, the tape recorder starts, and she begins asking us rather specific questions about why we're here and why it matters. The more we try to explain how cool it is that sisters are in town, the crazier we begin to look to her. We could feel her pulling back- retreating from our crazed talk about living prophets and Jesus Christ. She takes out number out of pure pity, and we leave, a little stunned and completely humbled.
On our way to Dodge to meet more members, it hit me that we didn't pray before going in there. We didn't invite the spirit, and without the spirit we really are two awkward young girls, far away from home and totally unaware of how insane we seem. Without the spirit and the power of god behind us, we have nothing to offer. We had a good laugh about it after that realization, feeling both so grateful and humbled that we were able to be taught that lesson during something so arbitrary and not during a lesson. It's easy to start thinking we are so awesome and incredible, but all that is from God. When I don't have the spirit, I am just a 19 year old girl- I'm not even a missionary anymore.
We made sure to pray before our meeting with the Axtels, our new ward mission leaders. They're the cutest little couple. We chatted with them about their calling, and then talked Book of Mormon location and genealogy of Native Americans. It was a mildly productive trip.
We had dinner at the Dunkleys in Golden Valley, who have 5 girls. I know that everyone reminds me of home, but this family was us ten years ago. It was just sweet. We visited potentials after that, doing a lot of picture therapy between the rejections. We scheduled an appointment with Crystal, a potential from Beulah, for Sunday at four, and left our number with lots of people. I feel pretty optimistic about a lot of them...so hopefully good things will come from all that contacting!
Thursday was weekly planning day, and it was rough going. We headed to the Roundy's after all the planning (and got mail, yahoo!) to pick up our milk and eggs. We got out milk in an adorable mason jar this week, so that's pretty exciting. The official egg count as of today is 24, but we had 36 as of last Thursday. Yikes. Send all your delicious egg recipes my way! We've got all the eggs to eat!
We headed to Halliday after that, where we took more pictures and tried to find potentials. We would put the address in out GPS (who we have lovingly named Amanda), and she would send us to this random apartment complex. After about the fourth time, we decided there had to be a reason that we kept ending up there. So, we prayed and decided we needed to be. We saw a lady sitting outside and started talking to her...and she ended up being the member we were looking for! She gave us her cell phone number and told us she would love a visit- such a spirit-guided experience.
After talking with Sister Gervers, we felt like we needed to stick around the apartment complex. No one answered the first door, but at the 2nd, a ten-year-old girl answers. She looks at us dubiously, and then Sis Finlinson asks, "Is your mom home for a visit?". Yikes. First tracting experience and this is our opening line. She looks mildly offended, but grabs here mom despite our general awkwardness. From inside the apartment we hear, "The Sisters are here!" Turns out, we had unknowingly tracted into a family from the branch. It was almost funny, but as we started talking to her, it became 100% clear that we were meant to talk to her. It was just so cool.
We went to the Leach’s for dinner; they feed us hamburgers and gave us all the referrals. Overwhelming amounts of referrals. We've got our work cut out for us here! There's one family in particular Sis Leach mentioned, the McGregors. He is the Sunday School President and she isn't a member, and Sis Leach thinks she ready. There are so many people here like that, inches away from joining. It's frustrating, but pretty amazing. Good day, good day.
Friday was our Zone Training Meeting in Bismarck, and it was incredible. It was all about faith and how essential faith is. It was exactly what I needed to hear, exactly what Brother Lee needed, and exactly what the Lord needs me to learn. You find power in faith when you connect it with obedience- so incredible. I just felt full all day afterwards.
The random cow on the way to Bismarck. Her name is Salem Sue.
We were coasting on cloud nine after that lesson, so we decided to try the Cranes. We stopped by on Tuesday with no luck, but we felt like trying one more time. The parents are less active and the kiddos aren't members. We taught them about Ether 12:4 and being anchored in Christ as a family, inviting them to pray as a family this week. It was pretty cool to see that desire to change in their eyes- I have some pretty high hopes for that fam.
Saturday was all about finding in Beulah. We left the apartment at one after the routine and an area call, heading out to track down all the people from our area book. We went by faith, guided by the spirit...and no one answered. It was rough. I was getting bummed out, but we finally found people that listened and expressed some interest. Tender mercies are so real, I'm telling you. We went back to the apartment to get ready for dinner, the heavens parted and all the mail came. It was glorious- shout out to all the homies thinking of me! You are all rockstars! I needed some mail that day, and it came and made it all okay. It was great.
Sunday was so good. Courtney, Nueley (her fiancé), and Brother Lee all came to church! Yahoo! It was a blessed experience. We did more finding and tracting and stalking after church, and had dinner at the Humphreys. They are great, and I was just so overjoyed to have peach strawberry lemonade. SO good. We contacted more after dinner, and ended up talking to the Bauer family. We chatted for a while about family and religion and our mutual love of small towns. Sis Finlinson asked some incredibly inspired questions about Christ, and we ended up giving him a Book of Mormon and our number. It was so casual and so good, and my testimony of finding is growing so much already. It's crazy to be led to people that are prepared to hear your testimony. Such a cool experience.
And now, here we are again, sitting in the local library and musing over the greatness of this work. Thank you for all the letters and emails! It is so great to hear from everyone, and it makes all the difference. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Love, Sister Abbie Robinson