Monday, December 29, 2008

There's a sister in our house being trained right now. She reminds me so much of myself a year ago when I was being trained. It's made me realize over the past couple of weeks how much I love my mission, and how much I have changed over the past year, and how sad I am that time is starting to slip. (The fact that Sister Norton is ending her mission in three weeks has made me a little more sentimental than usual). I've changed more than I ever thought I could. I'm not sure when it happened. I think it was a process. Not changes that anyone would really notice if we were to hang out, but changes that are a lot deeper. More understanding. More of a desire to be obedient. More of an appreciation for the plan that Heavenly Father has laid out for us. More love for the Savior. Holy cow I'm so glad I signed up for this. In the beginning I thought that I was sacrificing so much, but now I look at it so differently.

Our area is doing awesome. People are at church every week, the members are helping out. We've got baptismal dates. I feel like I've been working my whole mission to see the miracles I've seen in the past month.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Picture this...

Two girls lost out in the middle of nowhere in the country. The gas-light has been on now in our trusty Corolla for almost twenty miles, Bonnie (Our GPS) has stopped working, the cell phone is beeping because it's dying, and the worst part of all is that we both have to go to the bathroom REALLY bad. Oh, and it's dark outside. Did I mention the fact that it's Sunday, and I'd really like to keep it holy, considering the fact that I'm a missionary and all? How did we get ourselves out of that one? I'll leave it to your imaginations.

Monday, September 1, 2008

You know you've been a missionary for quite a while when...

1. Your companion tells you that you woke her up in the middle of the night because you were teaching the plan of salvation in your sleep.

2. The next week your companion asks you what scriptures you have memorized from Alma 5. You reply that you don't have any scriptures memorized from Alma 5, and she laughs and tells you that you were reciting one of them in your sleep quite fervently. (P.S. You might all remember that I have never talked in my sleep previous to this transfer of my life.)

3. You have a rating system for the hymns.

4. Wearing jeans is a weird, yet totally wonderful feeling.

5. You start relating everything to the gospel.

6. You have the kind of butterflies you got at junior high dances when the boy you liked asked you to dance with him.... EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY MORNING BEFORE CHURCH.

7. The jokes the immature elders in your district tell start becoming really funny.

8. P-days are stressful because you don't know what to do with free time. You have a list from here to Kansas of people to write, but you just keep letting it grow longer.

9. You watch your companion get really nervous before teaching appointments, and you can only slightly remember what that feels like.

10. You realize that you are HALFWAY DONE WITH YOUR MISSION. If the first 9 months flew..... how fast will the next 9 go?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kirtland update

We've had a lot of cool things going on lately. Last night the sisters sang in the choir lofts at the Kirtland temple for 'The Emma Festival', a program held every year on commemorating Emma Hale Smith around her Birthday. Tickets were a hot item, and it was an audience sing-along, and then we sisters had a few musical numbers. I sang a song in a double quartet that was really pretty. It was a great experience.

I got to take Elder and Sister Hinckley on a tour! Yeah, it was crazy. Last week, Elder and Sister Butterfield pulled me in and said that Elder Hinckley, President Hinckley's son, general authority, and head of the mission department was coming to Kirtland, and they wanted Sister Tycksen and I to take him on tour. Yes, only slightly intimidating. We exchanged comps for the day, and Sister Tycksen and I went into sites early Saturday morning before they opened, and met Elder and Sister Hinckley and gave them their own personal tour. I was a little nervous at first, but they were so great and down to earth. It was really comfortable, and easy. It was a great experience, and I was really flattered that Elder Butterfield asked me to do it.

I have seen somebody I know almost every day. It's kind of weird. It's sort of like getting interuppted in the middle of the shower. I like it, but it's combining two very separate worlds.

Tours are going really well, my testimony continues to grow, I feel the spirit strong, and I've met amazing people on tours that I will never forget. I've even been able to see in a small way the effect I've been able to have on some people.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Not everyone can say they got to be in a parade on their mission

This past week was so fun. Kirtland is so different from normal proselyting. Being a missionary in the field is like being the salesman for a company and doing the gruntwork, and being a missionary at the visitors sites is like being in charge of public relations for the same company. Both jobs are difficult in their own ways; however, in Kirtland there is a little more 'wining and dining' if you will. For example, we get to help with a lot of community affairs and be the faces for the church here in Kirtland. This past week, Kirtland hosted their annual town 'Strawberry Festival'. It reminded me exactly of a small Americana town carnival, very similar to the one in 'Sweet Home Alabama.' Some of us got to help at it all night Thursday, and all afternoon and evening on Friday at the Strawberry tent. Here's a unique one for you- Friday evening Sister Tycksen and I got to dress up as CLOWNS, and we were in the Strawberry Festival Parade.
This was crazy Hahahaha. Yes, a CLOWN. Just in case you didn't realize, this is kind of a big deal. I was wearing a huge striped clown costume, a colored wig, a big red nose... the works. We handed out balloons to kids on the side of the road, and squirted people with these little toys the director had given us. It was so funny. We were laughing so hard, and of course loving it. As the parade started and we are walking down the road waving at people, suddenly I came to the
realization that we were CLOWNS in the parade, and that meant that people were expecting us to act completely stupid. Luckily I had so much stuff to give out, and the parade wasn't too long anyway, that I really didn't have the chance to have to think of something terribly idiodic to try to do to get laughs. It was so fun though.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

So long Brunsie...

I am in Kirtland. I've decided the Lord never wants us comfortable, and he's definitely trying to teach me patience right now. I was excited for Kirtland because I was POSITIVE that I would get to do half proselyting/half sites. (8 sisters are half and half, and 7 of us are full sites) I was surprised when I learned that I would be a full-sites sister, which means I am on sites all day from 9-8.
My companion and I live in a house with 6 other sisters, and we are with sisters all the time on sites all day. Plus we are surrounded by senior couples that I LOVE. P.S. The sisters in my house are SO FUN. It's like a constant party. Part of me doesn't feel like a missionary anymore--- it's just so completely different from the field that I can't even compare the two. But I am starting to really love it.
Oh- guess what we do for service? We dress in pioneer clothes and go help out at the Lakeland Historical Society's Pioneer School----- I've been teaching 5th graders how to make taper-stick candles. It's actually really fun. I told one of the kids this morning that I am from Utah, and he acted shocked and said, "Are you serious?? You've got to be kidding me. You look like you are from California." Whatever that means. Kids are funny.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A taste of tracting

It's been an interesting week, complete as always, with a lot of tracting.
Today I thought that I'd give you all a little sampling of what tracting in
Brunswick entails. I will give you a few examples...

Scenario 1: "Hi we're missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints........... No, we AREN'T associated with the fundamentalist group in
Texas, but we DO share a message about how the gospel of Jesus Christ has been
restored to the earth."

Scenario 2: "Hello, we're sharing a message about Christ today...... No, we
DON'T share a husband, but we DO know that you can find more peace and love in
your own marriage by reading this book that we have, The Book of Mormon."

Scenario 3: "Hi, we're missionaries teaching people that the gospel of Jesus
Christ has been restored to the earth......No I don't know him personally, I'm
sorry that he dropped out of the race as well.... but here's hoping for 2012."

Scenario 4: "No. We aren't Jehova's Witnesses........I love Christmas too,
believe it or not, we COMPLETELY support blood transfusions, and you are sure
welcome to come to my birthday party this year."

Scenario 5: "Hi we're teaching people about another testament of Jesus Christ
that we have...... No, John Smith is definitely not the author of the Book of
Mormon. Pretty sure he was too busy with Pocahontas."

I hope that those scenarios gave you a small taste of what each and every day
bring for me. What a delight.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Guess what's behind door #2

The other day we were tracting on a nice little street. A woman came to her door, we told her what we were doing, she said "No thank you, I'm a born again Christian, but thanks anyway." I hand her a pass along card, and then as we are about to turn around and walk away we mention that her house smells amazing, because it did. She says, "Oh thanks! Well, come step in for a minute."
We walk through door #1 and we are standing in her mudroom. As she is about to open door #2 to get to the rest of her house she says, "I have a lot of cats, I hope you are okay with that." For a brief moment, I hesitate. I hate cats. But hello, I've dealt with many cats in the past few months and I'm sure a few more won't kill me anytime soon. And plus, she was letting us into her house... and that is gold.
As I kept walking, I almost fainted in disbelief. Nothing, no nothing, could have
prepared me for what lie behind door #2. EIGHTEEN furry feline friends. Yes,
EIGHTEEN CATS. No I am not even kidding. Keep in mind, this is in a one
story- two bedroom house. Sister Knecht and I looked at each other in pure
disbelief. I felt like I was in a zoo. 36 eyes stared at me, and 72 legs
started circling us in the middle of the room. UNREAL. Bless her heart, this woman's entire home is catered to her cats, all of which have biblical names. There are liter boxes all over, and cat furniture in every room. Literally, this place is cat heaven. The most incredible part about the whole thing is that it didn't stink at all. In fact, like I said before, it smelled incredible. Not only is she a cat lover, but she is also OCD about cleanliness. I wouldn't have even thought she owned a pet if I couldn't feel a few of these creatures trying to befriend me and rub up against my leg. We stood there in pure amazement for quite some time, and finally Sister Knecht asked if we could capture them all on camera. "SURE!" She was so excited, she whipped out a couple cans of Fancy Feast and in seconds all of the cats had come to play.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Strange things are afoot in Brunswick...

It happened last night. It was a dark and stormy evening, and we found ourselves on Clemson Rd. We had picked out a former investigator to visit, intent on tempting them with the prospect of eternal bliss. Mission failed, despite our irresistible charm. Shoot. We got back to the car and Sister Knecht took a phone call as I perused through the area book, deciding who our next victim would be. Just then, a police car pulled up, going uncharacteristically slow. He stopped and stared into our car, and then continued on his way. We quickly turned off the light and decided to get out of there. We weren't looking for trouble. The cop was hovering a little ways down the street in this nice, pleasant, middle class neighborhood. We continued driving a while and then realized that the cop was following us. I'm busy formulating escape plans (not that I have a good track record of escape plans actually working in the past when I've had interactions with cops) and Sister Knecht is freaking out ranting, "What the heck! I didn't do anything wrong! Why is he following us?" He didn't let up. Then, all of the sudden, sirens are blaring and we are being summoned to pull over. We are both freaking out at this point. In my head I'm thinking about all of the cop shows I've seen with shady policeman who have their own agendas. Maybe he saw two vulnerable looking girls and decided to have some fun? Or maybe he hates Mormons and is going to harass us? Start beating us? As you all know, my imagination can sometimes be quite overactive, and at that moment it definitely was. He comes up to the window and in the low, husky, impersonal voice that all cops seem to have, asks us what we think we are doing.
Officer 'I like to shine my bright light in your face like you are a criminal' Jones: "I saw you guys parked in front of that house on Clemson Rd, with the light on looking inside and talking on the phone."
Sister Knecht interjects, "What house?"
Officer 'I like to shine my bright light in your face like you are a criminal' Jones: "The house you were parked in front of. We have reason to believe that some suspicious activity is going on in that house. Can you explain yourselves?"
Sister Knecht: "Well, we had just visited 1156 Clemson, the house on the corner. We have nothing to do with that house."
All of the sudden Officer 'I like to continue shining my bright light in your face like you are a criminal Jones realizes that we are wearing name tags: "Oh, I see you are with the Church of Latter-day."
Sister Knecht: "Yes, we are."
Officer 'I'm finally going to turn off my bright light now' Jones: "Okay, well you ladies have a nice evening." Then he walked away.
I am absolutely positive that if we hadn't been wearing missionary badges, we would have been hand-cuffed and taken away.
Honest to goodness.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My first baptism

This past weekend I had the first baptism of my mission. It was awesome. It was really wonderful. I don't even know what else I can say to adequately describe it. The actual baptism part was quite funny... Rose Marie had to get dunked a couple times and she was crackin jokes the whole time. I loved it. She kept calling herself the pregnant angel in her baptismal dress. It was hilarious.
After her baptism she was just beaming. She was so happy, and you could just see it in her. She kept saying how it was better than she even thought it would be, and that she felt so clean... like a brand new baby. Later that night Sister Tingey and I stopped by her house and she ran over and hugged us both. She started bawling and said in between sobs, "You saved my life, and you didn't even know it.... I'm so glad you weren't Jehovah's Witnesses on my porch!!" I feel extremely lucky and blessed by the Lord to have had the opportunity to find and teach Rose Marie, and watch her be baptized in my first transfer as a missionary. It was a great way for me to start my mission, and a great way for Sister Tingey to end hers. Just being a part of that made all of the really cold, miserable days here in Brunswick so worth it.

Missions are crazy

Missions are crazy. Wait... maybe it's just me. MY mission is crazy. The other day Sister Tingey looked at me and said, "I've been serving for 18 months now and I've never had stuff like this happen to me until serving with you! " There you have it. I honestly believe that God keeps letting crazy things happen to me to keep me laughing everyday. I LOVE IT.
Here are a few of this week's highlights...

The night before Valentine's day and we were on our way to contact a referral. Sister Tingey missed the turn off and so she pulled into a parking lot to turn around. What she didn't realize was that the driveway slanted downhill. Mix that with the incredibly icy conditions of Brunswick Ohio in February and we've got ourselves a little problem.... The car is now completely stuck in ice. We are talking six inches of snow/ice that doesn't break when you walk on it... wonderful. It's also 19 degrees outside, and the wind is blowing. I get out of the car and we start trying to back it up, etc. We stand there hypothesizing whether we can back the car up 30 feet and over the curb, but realize that we will undoubtedly high center the car. Not a good idea. I get behind the car and start trying to push. Pathetic, I know. This does not work either. The tires are now spinning out of control and we've got smokeeverywhere. Sister Tingey is frustrated at this point, and I think the situation is completely hilarious. What makes the story even better is that we are in the parking lot of Christie's Cabaret and the "Simply Explicit Adult Boutique". We call Elder Hedilious, who is over all the cars in the mission. He laughs when we tell him what happened, and where we are. He tells us to find a shovel, and someone to help us. We try on our own for a few more minutes and both laugh as we realize what we have to do....... actually go inside to find a shovel. It was hilarious. We decide we will try the boutique rather than the strip club. Please picture two missionary girls in long skirts and puffy, hooded coats entering an adult boutique. It was insane. It was straight up disgusting, and I'm pretty sure we both looked like dear in the headlights. Yuck. Luckily, the woman at the desk had a shovel so we got out of there fast. There were however, last minute McCreepster Valentine shoppers who I'm sure got a kick out of two wide eyed sister missionaries entering the devil's playground. As we are walking out of the store I am laughing so hard I can barely contain myself and I start to lose my balance. I'm holding this huge metal shovel that weighs half as much as I do and my feet start slipping out of control. Next thing I know I've landed on my back, and thankfully the shovel had managed to miss my face as it landed. This only made me laugh harder, and I was stuck for about 5 minutes before I could actually get up.Finally we get back to the car, and we start shoveling. Okay, Sister Tingey is shoveling and I am still laughing. Just as she had shoveled us out and we were ready to Rock and Roll out of there, some guys show up out of nowhere and offer us assistance. Perfect timing. Out of control.

We were visiting a less active ward member the other day, and when we got ready to leave she told us to flip our car around in her yard. We do this every time that we visit her. Sister Tingey turned the car around, and we are halfway through the yard when the tires start spinning. OH NO. We look at each other and realize we have a problem. I jump out of the car, only to find that the front wheels of our car are sunk about a foot in wet mud. I start sinking in the mud and now we're in trouble. We try everything.... backing up the car, finding cardboard to put under the wheels to give it traction... nothing works, and by the time we are done trying Sister Tingey is CAKED in mud. It was so funny, and of course I'm laughing uncontrollably at this point and she is half laughing/ half ticked off. So... we knock on Sister Moorman's door to explain to her that we've basically ruined her front yard. Luckily, she doesn't care at all and claims this sort of thing has happened before. She calls her son to come and dig us out of the mud. He gets there twenty minutes later, takes one look at the car, and tells us to call Triple A to get a tow truck. TOW TRUCK??? You've got to be kidding me.... At this point I am dying. Sister Tingey is mumbling under her breath as she sponges off her coat and I am laughing so hard my stomach hurts. A little stop by, turned into a 4 hour ordeal, as it took the tow truck over an hour to get there, and an hour for them to drag our car out of the mud. Priceless. LOVE IT. By the time the car was on the driveway again, the yard looked like it had been bombed by a crater. Note to self: NEVER ATTEMPT TO TURN AROUND ON THE GRASS IN OHIO!

I learned that Urine is the new cure-all.... just like Windex. Urine. I'm not entirely sure how the subject even got brought up... I think that Rose Marie noticed a little patch of dry skin on my finger and she told me to use urine to heal it. WHAT???? The conversation got crazy... she truly believes that urine cures everything... she claims that she washes her face with it mixed with soap every morning and its kept her wrinkle-free. She claims its an old mining town secret, and that it truly works. I almost wet my pants when she was sincerely explaining her theory to me. My challenge for all of you: try it. Stop spending money on expensive face creams.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


This past week was great! I think that yesterday was the best day I've had thus
far on my mission. Guess what happened? You'll never guess.... We actually
set a baptismal date with our investigator Rosemarie for Feb 16th! Crazy,
especially considering the fact that there hasn't been a baptism in the area for
over 8 months. I have been working so hard, and the Lord is really blessing us
here. It is amazing to see just how prepared some people are to receive the
gospel, and how it can be such a quick process. I really felt guided to knock
on her door just over a week ago, and now she is ready to get baptized. It's

Not to leave you without a funny story for the week, get this: We go over to Rose Marie's and we figured we would take Sister Chokan and she could help fellowshipRose Marie since they are around the same age, early 60's. Just picture this for me please: we are sitting around the kitchen table and Rosemarie and Sister Chokan have found some common ground:
Lovely. Just lovely.
As they are discussing the logistics of phone calls, letters, prison life,
falling in love with bad boys, etc. I am at a complete loss for words.
I have nothing to add to this pot of goodness, and neither does sister Tingey.
As I'm sitting in complete shock to everything I'm hearing
(patiently waiting for my turn to teach the plan of salvation),
the cat, Astro, is on my lap. Yes, for some reason every time I am
there he won't leave me alone. Me, the only one in the room that despises
animals. Go figure. Well, I've gotten accustomed to Astro sitting on my lap,
but just then something crazy happened. He started convulsing all over my lap
and coughing and wheezing. I must have looked like a deer in the headlights,
because Rosemarie said, "Oh he's fine... he's just coughing out hair balls...
just slap him on the back sweetie." OH MY GOSH. I can deal with a cat on my lap now, but helping a cat wheeze out hairballs is a different story. At this point in time I started wondering how a good girl like me got herself into this one. Missions are crazy. I would probably never have the opportunity to experience 75% of the situations I find myself in if it weren't for a mission.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Missions are really funny!

I never thought I would laugh so hard every day.
Here are a few things that have made me laugh this week:
1. We found a man that missionaries had spoken with about a year ago. He was
totally normal (at least I thought.) He has a nice little family, and lives in
a normal house. We were talking about God with him, and he was really confused.
We talked to him for about an hour trying to explain God's role in our lives.
He looked at us with complete confidence and sincerity and said, "I never told the other sisters this, but do you want to know what I really think? GOD IS AN
ALIEN AND WE ARE HIS SCIENCE EXPERIMENT." The sad thing is that he was
completely serious. We talked with him for a while longer, but he wouldn't
budge. As we left the house Sister Tingey and I fell onto the snow because we
started laughing so hard. IT's sad that he really believes that, but a good
story. Sister Tingey said it definitely makes top 5 crazy theories she's heard on her mission.
2. We tracted into a lady yesterday that was baptized, but left the church. We
asked her politely what her name was and she wouldn't give it to us, complaining
that the church kept tracking her down. She had this wild look in her eye as
yelled, "If Osama bin Laden was Mormon, you would have already found him!!!"
3. The other day we tracted into a catholic deacon. I gave him a short little
shpill and he started screaming, "YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST!" I said,
"Sir, the central focus of our church is Jesus Christ." He replied with "THEY TELL YOU WHAT TO SAY!!!!" hahahaha. Big brother is watching.
4. We were teaching a lesson at Rosemarie and Tina's the other day. Rosemarie
loves her cat, Tina loves her dogs. Rosemaries cat was climging all over me,
and Rosemarie told me to just love it. I was grossed out, but tried to pet it.
Eventually the cat made it's way to my shoulders and sat on top of my shoulders
for a good ten minutes. It was DISGUSTING. It was the nastiest thing I've ever
subjected myself to. At the same time, Tina's little dog was running around
with a mad case of diarrhea. hahahahahaha. Oh the joys of pets.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Greetings from the coldest place I've ever set foot!

Cleveland, Ohio. Where to begin? I have been here for 7 days now. Here are some of the highlights of my first week in Brunswick.
My first full day in Ohio started with a drive to Kirtland. We got a personal tour of the Kirtland temple. It was amazing. We got to go to the attic where many revelations were received, and Carl Anderson got to give us most of the tour and so we talked about the importance of the Doctrine and Covenants and the revelations given in them, and the great significance of the Kirtland temple. We got to sit
in the chapel and read about when Jesus Christ visited Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdry in the temple. It was a very spiritual experience to be sitting in the temple in early morning, watching the sun come through the windows and thinking about the events that took place there. Afterwards, Carl asked me to get up and
lead everyone in "The Spirit of God" because the saints sang that song in the temple. It was an experience I'll never forget.

Let me tell you... I think that I had to start my mission in the bitter cold of January, because it's all going up hill from here. It has to. Saying that it is freezing is an understatement here. It is miserable outside. For the past three days it's been snowing (we are talking almost blizzard), and slushing cold rain. I spoke with a woman and she said that she's lived all over (she moves every 9 months) and this is the COLDEST PLACE SHE"S EVER SET FOOT. Figures, doesn't it?

A true trademark of a Brunswick home is a goose statue in the front yard somewhere. Everyone has statues of geese in their yard, and many homes go so far as to dress up their geese in clothes. Sister Tingey once served in an area where a home had 365 outfits for their goose. In order for the goose to be truly authentic, it has to have it's nose, or ear, or some other body part broken off. hahahah. hilarious.
I'm sure Christmas time here is great as far as yard decor goes, because it doesn't have to be christmas for these people to get creative. I've seen statues of dogs, naked men, angels, animals, sillhouetes of human beings, and other indescribably unique objects in the front yards of Brunswick. A true blessing to keep me laughing as I tract.

Tracting is cold, but it's also humorous. I have developed a lot more respect for missionaries that are called to serve in the states. It's tough. People can be really mean and hardened. The other day a woman started screaming at us that had a full on beard. I couldn't even pay attention to what she was saying, becuase I was so engrossed in the curly black and gray hairs hanging down from her chin. That same day we met a true gentleman. We knocked on his door and started talking about Jesus Christ and he interjected, "I don't need Jesus.... I NEED THE BOOZE." Amazing. Sister Tingey and I both stopped immediately to write that one down.

The sisters before us had met with a woman a few times named Dorothy, and so we've met with her about three times this past week. I am so in love with her. She is 88 years old, and has about all the sass in the world. She is hilarious. We taught her about prophets and showed her a picture of President Hinckley. She said she liked his smile. hahaha. We've been reading the Book of Mormon with her and urging her to pray. Yesterday we were teaching her about the plan of salvation. She started getting a little emotional and said how that would be wonderful to see her daughter again that died and see Jesus again. She has been meeting with a Jehovah's witness for about six years now. Yesterday she told us that she's beginning to hope and think that we are right. She was raised Methodist and that means a lot to her... I think it's just going to take some time. She prayed for the first time out loud the other day and it was the coolest thing I've ever witnessed. She thanked God for sending us to her, and she told God that she thinks the things we are teaching her are true. What a gem. LOVE visiting Dorothy.