I'm officially a human. I've experienced what my ancestors for hundreds of centuries did on a constant basis for survival. Last Monday I killed, skinned, cooked and then ate a rabbit. I'm now in the process of tanning the the rabbit's hide. The only sad part about the day is that Sister Clemons got a little sick watching it all. But she still asked me to get a hide for her and tan it so that she could have one so I don't think it traumatized her too bad. (too badly? I can't remember which is correct.) Willard thinks it's crazy that I can kill a rabbit but I can't kill a bug. I think it's crazy that he can eat possum but he won't try Chinese food.
Speaking of Willard, we cleaned his house this week and put up pictures of the temple and Jesus and his favorite Book of Mormon heroes and he loves it. Claiborne gave him a blue cowboyish suit jacket to wear to Church and he LOVES it. He wore it all day yesterday, even after church was over.
Sherry had her baptismal interview yesterday which was a miracle. Every time that there's an interview or a baptism it's like everything goes wrong in the life of the investigator. For some reason I'm always terrified that the person won't show up or will back out at the last minute. It's so stressful. But, she came and it went well and I really hope the baptism goes well on Saturday. She finally told all of her family besides her son who is [in the] Holiness [religion]. She still doesn't want to tell him about it because she knows he'll get all worked up over it. But, she told her other son, Jerry Wayne and her granddaughter, April and her brother Reid (who we all call Grubworm) and they all said they'd come. Grubworm is one of those people I love who is really grumpy but if you aren't afraid of him he likes you even if he tries to pretend like he doesn't like you. You know those people? Anyways, he's one of those people. The other missionaries are really nice and quiet around him and I just poke fun at him. He calls me Wanda. I asked him why and he said because I look like a Wanda. At first I was offended and then I realized I might actually look like a Wanda. Do I look like a Wanda? Anyways, I'll update you next week on how the baptism goes this Saturday.
Do you remember how last week I told you about how that lady thinks I'm part of the FBI? Well, this week I asked one of our investigators what his middle name was and he said I'd never guess it and told me it starts with an E and ends with an R. I right away guessed Edgar but he said it wasn't it. Then I said Ebenezer. Then he said that he'd meet with us again if I guessed it correctly. He told me to call him in a couple days. I called him in a couple days and said, "Is Elmer there?" He was like, "How did you know that?" "... am I right?" "How did you know that?" "... I'm really smart?" "No. Seriously, have you been reading my mail?" "That's illegal." "Have you?" "Why would I drive all the way to your house just to find out your middle name?" "Are you with the IRS? You're undercover IRS, aren't you?" Haha. What is it with people thinking I'm an undercover government official?
We didn't know where to tract this last week so I looked at a map and saw a street named "Verbena" and it reminded me of "The Parent Trap" and warmed my heart so we decided to tract it. It's an awesome street and I feel good things are going to come from it. Thank you, Hayley Mills. Thank you.
This week we also cleaned someone's house and I got the bathroom because my sense of smell isn't as good as Sister Clemons' and honestly, I was in a bad mood for the rest of the day. I don't know if this bathroom has ever been cleaned. If it has, it was years ago. Spiders and hair was the least of my problems in there. I didn't even think I'd be able to find the white porcelain under all the scum and stains and... grossness. Sister Clemons cleaned the entire house in the time that it took me to clean the house. But I still think I got the fuzzy end of the lollipop on this one. And so does Sister Clemons. She couldn't even walk into the door because it smelled so bad in there. Bleah. I don't know what it is about missionaries: Elders are the moving service and Sisters are the cleaning service. I'd rather move someone out of a house than clean it.
There are a couple things that Kentuckians/Hillbillies can't do:
1- They can't make Mexican Food.
2- They can't whisper.
3- They can't give directions.
I know I mentioned the Mexican Food last week and since I just talked about cleaning the bathroom my stomach can't handle much more description on that subject.
Whispers: They can't. They just can't whisper. I don't know if it's a physical problem with their throats or if it's a psychological problem or what. But they just can't whisper. Relief Society is the worst for it. Basically every week in Relief Society I strain my ears for 45 minutes while the people around me talk about whatever they please, thinking I can't hear them. I've learned to live with it and just laugh. But a couple weeks ago we had a visitor from the church out west and when the lesson started and no one got quiet and just talked through the whole thing she looked around like, "Am I the only sane one here?" I just leaned over to her and said, "Don't worry. I know. I know." She asked if it was always like this. "It is. They think they're whispering." She eventually started laughing after her shock wore off and then she and I helped each other decipher what was being said by the instructor when we couldn't quite hear over the babble.
Directions: "You know Falls Rd? Just take that for about 2 miles and you'll see a big church on the left and then you'll go a little farther and you'll go down a hill and at the bottom you'll see a doublewide and you'll turn and drive for about a half a mile and then you'll see a tree that was struck by lightning. Turn there. Take that up the hill about a mile or so and when you pass the field with all the boats in it you'll see a blue house, turn there. The road splits again. Take the one where the old goat is tied up by the dogwood tree. It's the 3rd trailer on the right. Don't get out of the car, just honk till we see yuns so we can tie up the dogs. They bite." You think I'm exaggerating. I know you do. I'm not. Those are the kinds of directions I get. I'm lucky if I can get them to tell me which direction I turn at the dead tree or the old truck or the pile of tires. Seriously. And there aren't street signs on half of the streets. So, even if people knew the names of the streets, it wouldn't help me a bit.
I think I've told you about Otis. He's the one who lives with the lady who thinks I'm with the FBI. He's the one we mowed his lawn and fished with. He has horses and chickens and all that. He's one of my faves. He calls me "Sis" which makes me feel right at home. I'm sending pictures of him so you can see him because I love him so much. He has a little sort-of grandson who isn't really any relation to him but through a dna mix-up was apparently his roommate's grandson for a while until they found out he wasn't but they were already attached to him so he spends every weekend and holiday with "Otie" as he calls him. His name is Malachi and he's adorable and has the strongest accent I've heard out here and he's a cowboy through and through.
Anyways, we were up with Otie and Malachi and Autumn on Saturday and we were outside talking while we were burning a tree stump. Did you know that's how you clear a field? You burn the stumps. Otis and Autumn are what mission lingo would call "forever investigators". They've been talking with missionaries for two or three years now and haven't really made any progress but every time they're dropped the missionaries end up picking them up again. Sister Ralph and I only picked them up because I accidentally called him instead of a different Otis and when he answered the phone he asked when we were coming to see him so we scheduled something and we've been meeting with them ever since. He's awesome. Anyways, back to Saturday night. Malachi came out with a tie clipped on to his t-shirt and said, "Look! I get to wear one of these if Otie or Autumn ever dies." "Malachi! Don't say that!" "Well, that's the only time I ever wear one of these." "No! You can wear that to church." "I look good in it, huh?" "VERY good. You have to come to church tomorrow now so you can have a reason to wear that tie." "What time does it start?" "9:30." "We'll be there at 9!" Haha. I looked at Otis. So did Malachi. "Can we go tomorrow, Otie?" "Well... sure." Hurray!
And they CAME! I think Otis only planned on staying the first hour but I was a brat and took Malachi into his class and introduced him to the other kids and he was really excited to stay so Otis stayed for the second hour. Then he tried to leave after the second hour but Willard told him to come to priesthood with him and that he'd like it. So they stayed for all three hours! Malachi LOVED it. He wants to come back next week. I asked Otis how he liked it all and he said that it was really great. He said that the third hour was "very rewarding" which I think means that it was good. The guy we killed the rabbits with is the guy we've wanted to fellowship Otis and while we were at church we all set up a time to have a lesson at his place this week! (By the way, that family with the rabbits are the Gross Family. That's honestly their last name: Gross.) It was so wonderful to have Otis there! We usually see him only once a week because he lives so far away but he said that Friday was too long away before we saw him again so he's meeting us down in London on Tuesday. We're so excited about him and Malachi!
Sister Clemons and I were talking about how weird it is to be teaching all these people that are older than us because we feel like their parents. I worry about them and pray about them and get excited over their little accomplishments and stress about them and nag them and push them and pick at them and fix their hair and wipe their face and do everything short of changing their diapers and giving birth to them. When they're struggling, we're struggling. When they're happy, we're happy. It's like backwards parenting or something. They're our little sheep and we're trying to watch over them and keep the wolves out as best we know how.
We taught Wayne again and he's trying to quit smoking and has started reading the Book of Mormon. We'll let you know how that goes... and by "we" I mean "I" because Sister Clemons doesn't write these emails, I do. I'm just used to saying "we".
We've tried to meet with Danny, Molly. the cute kids with the divorcing parents, the deaf people, the lady who just had a baby and the man we tracted into who wasn't wearing clothes but Satan is trying REALLY hard to keep these people away from the truth. I just wish he'd give us a day or two break so that we could round them all up and bring them into our fold. Pray for us.
Ok. I know this is long. But this is the last thing, I think. This week we got to do a blitz. A blitz is when one set of missionaries goes and works the area of another set of missionaries along with them. An exchange is when one companion in two areas switch around for a day. As Sisters we don't ever get to do exchanges because it's only with a District Leader or Zone Leader that people exchange and we're not allowed to be alone with Elders. But, this last week we got permission to do a blitz with the Sisters in Berea. It was so awesome. It made a lot more sense to me as to why all the Elders get so close to each other even when they aren't companions. When you do an exchange you get to know them and know their area and you get close to them. It was awesome to be able to see how another area works and see how different missionaries knock doors and do their studies and stuff like that.
Sister Edgerton is training Sister Noakes in Berea. Berea is a college town with a lot of people not from Kentucky in it so it's really artsy and not at all like Corbin. Sister Noakes has been out one transfer longer than Sister Clemons. Sister Noakes is from the East side of Las Vegas and Sister Edgerton is from Boise, Idaho. When we got there, Sister Noakes and I went and tracted while Sister Clemons and Sister Edgerton looked up formers. Then we went and walked around Berea campus and contacted people there and found some GREAT potentials that I'm really excited for the Sisters about. Then we taught a recent convert of theirs named Marvin who is from Liberia and it was really fun to see them treat him similarly to the way we treat Willard.
Then we came home and played ping pong after we did all the other things we are supposed to do at night because for some reason they have a ping pong table in their apartment. In the morning we all studied together and split up again and went tracting and Sister Noakes and I visited some formers and potentials and it was so uplifting and motivating. It made me feel so much more connected to my mission. I love Corbin but I've been pretty isolated out here. It was neat to interact with other missionaries and see how others work in different places. It made me really like those other Sisters, too. It was great to see that there isn't just one way to tract, but many ways. Same with study and contacting. It was really, really awesome. In a couple weeks they're coming down to Corbin for a blitz again and we can't wait.
This week I've had something from Conference stuck in my head. Obedience is more important than Sacrifice. I think a lot of times people think that if they give some big sacrifice that it makes up for their disobedience. But we've not only been asked to be willing to die for the truth, but to also live for the truth as well. Christ made a huge sacrifice, but he also was completely and exactly obedient before, during and after that sacrifice.
There's a place here in my district called Irvine but it's not pronounced like Irvine, CA. It's pronounced Irvine as in Erven as in Erven Tebbs as in ET as in Papa Elf. It makes me happy whenever people tell me to take the "Erven" exit to get to district meeting.
Extra Blessings: Mom, Paige, Shannon & Sister Ralph
Word of the Week: The words "stroller" and "shopping cart" don't exist here. They're both either called "buggie" or "carriage".
I love you all and love this gospel and am so happy to be on a mission. To think that I almost gave up on being a missionary. How awfully sad that would have been! Thank you for your belief in me, and your prayers and support and love. I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father loved me enough to say no to my request to serve a Chinese-speaking mission and sent me on a Hillbilly-speaking mission instead. Corbin is the Promised Land!