Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Tell the world the Black Story"

We teach this black family and one day we were in the middle of a lesson and the little boy comes in and is like "momma! can we have waffles for dinner" and she's like "no." then he was like "can i have fried chicken!?" and she was like "no baby I'm making ribs"
then he was like "well can we at least have poptarts"
i almost peed.

Welcome to Gotham!

SHOUTOUT TO MY BEAUTIFUL MOTHER WHO TURNS 26 THIS WEEK. You babe. I just want you to know that you are my superhero. There is no way I would be out here on this mission right now if it weren't for everything that you have done for me. 
I think that all moms are superheroes. This week in relief society, we had a lesson on parents and I kept getting all teary-eyed because of all the mothers who felt like they were failing as parents. I couldn't help but think of my angel mother who was often too hard on herself. Mom, you are perfect. I love my mother. God loves mothers. Everyone, go kiss your moms. 

OKAY. Everyone prepare for an epic novel. I'm sorry for those of you who are about to suffer through and read this. It's going to be... well, epic. 

So first and most important, did you all know that Pittsburgh is where Batman was filmed!? Because I did not know that. So now it all makes sense that the Lord called me to serve here. My mission call is Gotham. I AM BATMAN. So it's like, not a big deal or anything. 

Nextly, I just want to say that I love being in the field. It's something new and exciting every single day, and that is fabulous and just what I need. 

So now I'm going back to the beginning. 
Leaving the MTC was hard, because I had to say goodbye to a lot of really good people. But, one good thing that happened the night that we left is that Brother Jones gave us a ride around campus on the golf cart. 
I was hanging off the end because there weren't enough seats for me to sit. I've never felt more alive. We were driving all over the grass in front of Thomas S. and causing massive mayhem. It was beautiful. 

My plane rides were good. I got to go from Mexico to Atlanta with three of the elders from my district in the MTC - Elders Shin, Munson and Lundgren. When we got to Georgia I had to say goodbye to Elder Shin and Elder Munson, so that was hard all over again. But I was just too happy to finally be going to Pennsylvania. 
When we got off the plane in the airport and made our way over to baggage claim, I was greeted by a firm hug from Sister Johnson.
I love my mission president and his wife. 
The first thing that we did once we were joined by the missionaries from the Provo MTC was to drive up to an overlook and to see the whole city. 
It was gorgeous and there was a rainbow stretching across the city... I wish I had a picture but I forgot to pack my camera cord because I'm a genius. 
Anyway. We had dinner at the mission home and I saw a cardinal and a bunch of fireflies! It was magic. I couldn't even believe my eyes! 

Then we had the transfer meeting to meet our new trainers. Guess who I saw there!? Elder Kevin Johnson. 
What a champion. All the new missionaries had to stand up and introduce themselves. When I stood up Elder Johnson let out a warcry and I blushed bright red. What a bum. 
Anyway! My trainer is Hermana Tolman. She's really nice but she's not a very good driver so...I can't wait till the end of this transfer where I'm allowed to drive. Haha. 
Slight interjection here. Let me just tell you about the dumbest thing that we do as missionaries. It's called backing. So the "co driver" (me) has to stand out of the car and wave my hands and help the driver back the car. Mind you, we have one of those fancy backing videos in our car so it's not really necessary... I guess I understand the principle. I just feel so stupid doing it. I get a lot of funny looks. Being a missionary is awesome but it's also pretty awkward. Oh well, I'm really good at being awkward. 
Other than the driving my companion is awesome! I got assigned to an area called Lebanon and it's kind of sketchy but there are a lot of people to teach here so I am not going to complain. Also, Elder Lundgren is in the same zone as me! We are hopefully getting together today as a zone to play some sports, but who knows for sure. 

So here in Lebanon everything is really old. It's nice but it's also not nice. Our apartment, for example, is just a little struggler. Some beautiful, blessed child of our Father in Heaven decided that they could just take a house and split it into four and make it into an apartment building. 
It's wonderful. Our bathroom used to be a porch. 
The nice thing about our apartment, though, is that we have our own washer and dryer. However, it's incredibly creepy because it's completely unfinished and we're like 13% sure that we have a basement dweller. There's kind of this lump of things over in the far corner that we've never gone and looked at. Pretty sure it's where the blessed little lad rests his head. We lock that door at night. 
We lock all of our doors at night, dad. Don't worry. 

The best thing about our area, though, is that if you go far enough out, you will see a lot of beautiful Mennonites, which is a dream come true. We were teaching an investigator named Titus the other day (he's crazy. He's been to jail. I love him.) and we have to teach him out on his porch and this Mennonite buggy just comes gallivanting by. 
Best day of my life. 

I am getting plenty of opportunities to practice my Spanish out here, as well. We have a couple of people from Mexican and I can communicate really well with them. But a lot of Spanish speakers in Lebanon (pronounced Leb nin) are from Puerto Rico. The fun thing about their Spanish is that's it's 
1. Really really fast
2. All slurred together
3. They don't finish their words (ie Nosotros would be said nosotro) 
It's madness. 
It's Sparta. 

Here's an awkward story for you. We have this member named Sister Fornasch. The members take such good care of us out here. In all the time I've been out, we've only had to make dinner once. They feed us so well, it's awesome. So we were headed to Sister Fornasch's home for a dinner appointment. I was super excited to meet her because my trainer told me she was a convert.
What she didn't tell me is that she is also from Cambodia. 
I couldn't understand a word she was saying! Have you ever listened to someone with a Cambodian accent!? 
It was so intense. I just had to sit there smiling and nodding. Until she asked me a question and I had no idea what to do. The awkwardness in that room... coulda cut it with a knife. 

But boy, oh boy can these people in Pennsylvania talk. They love to go on and on. I feel like in the MTC all I learned was how to get people to start talking, and now I have to learn how to get them to stop. 
They're all really sweet people though. I love them. 

We picked up two new investigators last week and it was awesome. One of them is named Savannah. She has a special place in my heart cause she was my first "new investigator". We met her when were contacting someone that we had run into on the street while tracting one day. We went to teach him and she came into the room in the middle of the lesson and stayed and was super interested in the Book of Mormon. The other guy (Frank) ended up leaving mid lesson which was funny, but what are ya gonna do, you know? Here's the cool thing, though. We were teaching Savannah about the Restoration on our second appointment and I got to invite her to be baptized and she accepted! It was incredible! So I'm 1 for 1 now and I guess you could say that's a pretty impressive track record ;) 
We are supposed to teach her again tomorrow night but I'm going on splits with the Sister training leaders so I don't get to teach her and I'm so mad! :( 

But anyway! I think that's most of my stories. I mean, obviously I have tons more, but I don't want to bore you all to death. I want you guys to know that I love missionary work! It's so good to be out here in the field, getting real things done! The people in Pennsylvania are incredible. Pennsylvania is gorgeous! There's so much corn!

Oh, did I mention that Lebanon is right next to Hershey? So we are going to try to go to Hershey park for one of our Pdays.
Be jealous. 
I also think that we might be JUST close enough to the DC temple to have a member take us. It has to be a 2 hour drive or less, so we're going to find out for sure. I will keep you guys posted. 

But! Yesterday we got to meet with Elder Anderson from the 70 and I just want to share with y'all something that I learned before I go. We were talking about the importance of the Holy Ghost as we are teaching. As missionaries, we know that our investigators will never really be converted if the spirit is not in the room while we teach. 
This work (and this gospel) is spiritual work. We can't understand it or teach it without the Spirit, because we are bearing witness of truth and knowledge of spiritual things. We talk about our spirits that existed in the premortal life. We talk of the Savior and His atonement that will heal us spiritually. We talk about the importance of treating our bodies with respect because they house our spirits. It's all spiritual. This is a work of faith and a work of the Spirit. 
If you want to work on your faith, do things consistently that invite the Spirit. We practice humility and charity before we can hope to develop faith, and then faith brings hope and knowledge. 

The gospel is cool.

I want to leave you with my testimony that this is Christ's church, and it is so true. I would not be out here preaching to these people every day if I did not know it is true. If you don't have the same knowledge, ask God. He will never hold back from His beloved children. 
Maybe even meet with the missionaries ;) Just a thought... haha.

I love you guys! Thank you for your support! 
Talk to you all next week. :) 

Love, Hermana Bills