Wow wow wow I will never have enough time to write everything I want to write.
So Tuesday morning of last week, we got about an hour of sleep and then took off to the airport. I was excited to be in the real world again, haha, but then not so much when this airport lady was super rude to all the missionaries…kind of a wake up after having everyone treat you so nice and tell you they’re all so proud of you, haha. Luckily the ladies I sat by on the plane were super nice. One of them gave me earplugs and gum to chew on and a granola bar and just took care of me on my first airplane flight. On that flight I read all the DearElders people sent me. Thank you all!! Some day I’ll have time to individually respond! It was cool to read all the encouragement and mission advice from my aunts, so thank you. So flying is pretty cool. I AM SO SORRY MOMMA that I didn’t get to call you at my layover, our first plane took off half an hour late so we had no time. On the flight from Dallas to Knoxville I sat by the cutest old mustached Catholic man and we talked the whole way. I asked if he had a favorite scripture and he said no, so I said let’s find ya one! I asked what he wanted it to be about, and he said “Travel!” (he’s a big time traveler) and I had one come to my head but I couldn’t find it so I just said it to him, “The Lord thy God will be with thee withersoever thou goest.” He liked it a lot and asked me to write it on a sticky note for him, haha. Then we read some of the Book of Mormon together and he liked it and admitted he would learn more about Christ by reading it and it would probably help him in his life, but he didn’t want to read it because he’s old and it probably wouldn’t change anything. “Did I disappoint you?” he asked. “Nope, just keep doing what you’re doing, keep praying, you’re doing great.” That’s what we end up saying a lot…”Nope I’m not interested, I’m Baptist through and through.” “Awesome. That’s one of our favorite things about being in Tennessee, meeting so many people who love the Savior so much, so keep doing what you’re doing and build that relationship with Him.”
My new companion/my trainer is Sister Godlewski [God-les-ki] (really?? first Trommlitz, now Godlewski?) and she is so great. She has been out for almost a year. She is just so chill about everything and in control of every situation. Apparently her last companion was kinda lazy so we are excited to work together and pick up the work in La Follette. [luh-FAWL-it] (not all fancy and French sounding like I thought at first haha). AH, speaking of that, I don’t know how to talk anymore!! I have my Idaho hic and Utah vernacular mixed with my leftover teenage girl mumbling and now mixed with the Southern drawl and La Follette hic. I seriously sound different every time I talk and everyone probably thinks English is my second language.
Missions are hard. I wonder why I am here but I know I need to stay. No individual day is worth it, I don’t think. But the 18 months as a whole will be worth it and I’ll be glad I stuck it out. There are a lot of promised blessings to be fulfilled only on my mission in Tennessee. It is hard when every house you go to reeks of cigarette smoke and poor hygiene and there’s bugs and dog hair everywhere. (Seriously everyone smokes here, I’ve walked into one home out of 20 that doesn’t smell like smoke.) It’s hard when you approach a house and know you’ll come out with flea or bed bug bites. It is hard when you have no idea how these people will ever understand the gospel. I need to have faith in God’s ability to help people learn and change….like, a LOT of faith with some of them. Many people already have a great foundation of faith in Jesus Christ, but also many people are really superstitious (a lot of weird obsession over the gift of tongues, or even witchcraft practice, etc) or just have weird backgrounds in general.
The coolest family so far that we teach are the Bradneys. Dad Bradney (Charlie) and Christian (20) got baptized a few weeks ago. Charlie quit smoking and drinking in ONE DAY. I love hearing them talk about their choice to be baptized. “The environment of our house is totally different. There used to be a lot of smoking and drinking and fighting, and now there’s none of that.” They still have struggles (like me) but have come so far. We get to see them almost every day.
Fireflies are so cool!!! Could someone send me a wikipedia article on lightning bugs? hahaha. I want to own them and farm them and bring them back to Idaho.
Funny story. So we are teaching a 25-year old named Dallas. Sister G has been teaching him on and off for four months. We were trying to determine last week if he wanted to talk to us because he’s interested in the gospel or because we’re girls, haha, so after an entirely unproductive lesson with him on Saturday, and also that night he texted us and asked if we were allowed to date out here, lolol, we decided if he didn’t show up to church we were gonna drop him. He had never come to church and he never read scriptures or prayed or kept any commitments to us, so we were pretty shocked when he actually came on Sunday. He was really funny, showed us his facebook status that was something like “I’m at church with 2 girls and I can’t believe it, trying to make a right turn in my life” and every ward member he met, he’d say “It’s my first time here! My first time at church,” just proud of it, haha. During sacrament meeting he kept scooting closer to me and getting close to ask questions. Eventually I had to tell him to not put his arm around me, hahahahaha. “I was just tryin to hear ya, not hug you or nothin’.” RIGHHHHT. So my first investigator at church was maybe investigating me. We’re handing him off to the Elders soon to see if he’s serious about it. We are going to try to visit his girlfriend in jail though!
So it hasn’t been that humid here because a tornado came through just a few days before I got here and the climate hasn’t readjusted yet. The tornado touched down from the mountain on our branch mission leader’s (Bro. Mugridge) property, tore up a lot of trees, SPLIT IN HALF and WENT AROUND HIS HOUSE, and then continued on its way. wut. We went to help clean up his property but a bunch of inmates were already doing it, so we hung out with them and helped a little. haha.
I love the ward! Actually it’s a branch!! The branch president is Pres. Smith and he and his wife Sandy are wonderful. He’s funny. In the MTC, the weekend before I came out here, we were watching a cheesy presentation on working with ward members, ward council, ward mission leaders, etc, and I suddenly started bawling. I felt like I’m going to love working with ward members and just felt grateful for them and maybe even that the specific ward/wards I’m going to already love me and pray for me. I felt grateful for them and their support, even though I hadn’t met them yet. I think I kind of forgot I’d be going to church and interacting with church members, I thought I’d be out there on my own for 18 months, haha. Church was good yesterday and I am grateful for the support of my little branch. So (mom and dad) if you ever want to show gratitude for the people who take care of your daughter, do it by helping the missionaries in our stake!! I know you already do, especially with your callings you have right now with the missionaries. I bet they are grateful for everything you do to help them!!! And that is cool that you’re teaching Sunday School now Mom.
I have to go soon. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of change. Missionary work is fun. Bed bugs are real. I love you all.
– Sister V. Hale
Quotes of the Week:
“You know honey I was thinkin, if the tornader had taken out our house…we’d be out of debt!” – Pres. Smith (he has just about the hickest accent of any of them)
“I think when Jesus comes and we’re all together again, we’ll have such fun and be so glad!” – 100-year-old Blanche who we went and sang to in a nursing home yesterday. She hasn’t been baptized, too old to get in the water, but wants her work done for her when she dies. She has such a strong testimony of the Savior…also had some good dating advice for the Elders. Haha.
oh oh I’ll try to send pics if I have time