Monday, January 2, 2012

"There are no cats in America, and the streets are paved with cheese!"

Week 2 in Salem has been better than Week 1. I still miss Corbin. But I'm starting to feel a little less foreign here.

Monday night we went to a member's house, the Roberts. They have a tradition on the day before Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas with a family called the Mullins. They get together and eat and play games like Guesstures and Catch Phrase. They always invite the missionaries. The two families have daughters that grew up together that are now in college and that's how they all became friends. Their daughters always dress up like it's Halloween for the occasions. They say, "Special occasion means special outfit." This time one of them was the Ghost of Christmas Party and she was a skeleton in a flapper dress and the other was one of Santa's helpers. The helper wore these things called pony boots (I think). Look them up. They're these platform boots that don't have a heel to them. They're pretty crazy. Anyways, the Mullins aren't Mormon and Sister Roberts made it very clear not to push them because they're very comfortable and active in their church, but to try and fellowship them. So, that's what we tried to do.

 It was lots of fun and I of course love those two games and the Mullins kept saying that I have to stay in Salem till next year so that I can come play again. When it was time for Sister Ford and I to leave, we stopped and shared a spiritual thought. Earlier that day Sister Ford had gone to prepare one but felt like I should give it instead. When she asked me to prepare one, Romans 8:35,37-39 popped into my head. Then I thought that maybe I should do a Christmas scripture instead to show the Mullins that we love Christ. But I just felt really good about Romans 8 so I stuck with it. Anyways, when it came time to share the scripture, I did. I was nervous because even though the Mullins were friendly towards me, I could see in the husband's face that he was going to scrutinize whatever I shared. 

At the end of the scripture I bore my testimony and they thanked us for the thought and everyone kind of started talking again. Then I looked to my right to Mrs. Mullins who was sharing the couch with me. She had tears running down her face. I was shocked. She started to quietly tell me that that was the exact scripture that had been shared at the funeral of one of her friends who just committed suicide. She said that she's been praying and worrying over him to the point where she can't sleep and can hardly work. Her religion says that if you commit suicide you go to Hell. I told her I went to a Lutheran school when a friend of my committed suicide and that our teachers had told us the same thing. Then I told her that I don't believe that we can judge who goes to Hell and who doesn't. She said it's been hard for her to accept that such a sweet, troubled man would be sent to Hell over a moment of weakness. She cried and cried and we hugged all while the people around us chatted. No one bothered us. It was very tender. I told her that the reason that the members of our church are able to have hope and happiness after death is because of what we know about God and His plan for us. I said that we'd love to share with her more about what we believe next time they're over at the Roberts'. She said, "You should just come on up to our house." So, we set a time for this Thursday. It was a miracle. A huge blessing. I can't wait to meet with her and teach her the Plan of Salvation. She called and said we might have to reschedule because her husband and daughter might want to join in the lesson as well. Miracles. Miracles. This is the first new investigator that Salem has had in months.

The next day we got another new investigator. Her name is Ruby and she's great. She said that if the Book of Mormon is true that she'll get baptized. She had already started reading before we met her. I don't have time to talk about her today but I will next week.

There's a man who we visit named Carol Winslow (remove one letter and his name turns into Carl Winslow from Family Matters). You need to know what Brother Winslow looks like. Imagine Jeff Bridges. Imagine him doing an old prospector accent. Imagine him in nothing but white booty shorts that have holes all over them. Put him in a wheelchair. Make him blind and almost deaf. That's Brother Winslow. He's awesome. We sit outside with him and we're freezing to death and he's in his booty shorts and is still burning up. It's amazing. He's hilarious. He joined the church a couple years ago. He's a sweetheart and loves to be read to from the Book of Mormon. He calls me Bo.

On probably Tuesday or Wednesday night we had gotten home and finished planning and I was in the kitchen playing solitaire when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was gone by the time I moved my head to get a better look. I got scared and so I watched the spot where I thought I saw it. After a couple seconds, it came back out and ran across the floor and tried to get through our closed broom closet door. A MOUSE! I screamed and jumped up on the chair. Sister Ford ran downstairs. I couldn't really talk. I pointed. She didn't believe me that there was anything. Then it came back out from under the dryer and tried to get through the door again. She screamed. Then she walked out of the room ABANDONING me. I screamed some more and told her to get it. She said she didn't know what to do. Finally I convinced her to call the landlords (they're in our ward). They said they'd get some traps and be over in a little bit. Sister Ford was in the other room and I was alone in that room on the chair screaming every time the mouse came out. It was horrible. The Blackwells finally showed up and set up some traps with, not cheese, but peanut butter on them and told us by the morning he'd be dead. I got brave and ran into the other room. Then I remembered that in order to brush my teeth I had to go back through the kitchen. It was horrible. I took an umbrella and banged it on the ground, ready to stab the mouse, if he ran out. Luckily he didn't. That night we prayed that the mouse would die. He did. The Blackwells came back in the morning and took him and threw him away. All was well again. But it was a stressful night. Ever since then I've had that song from "American Tail" stuck in my head. "There are no cats in America! And the streets are paved with cheese!"

We visit a lot of less-actives. We made a list this week from the Ward Directory with the Ward clerk. There were 85 less-active households and only 30 active households. It's crazy. One lady we visit would be active but she's in the nursing home. She is so overweight that she can't take care of herself. It's really sad. She's a sweetheart. She can't even adjust herself if she gets uncomfortable. She's been in the nursing home for 9 months and has only had her hair washed 2 times. Isn't that awful? There's so many things about her life that are HORRIBLE that I'm not going to get into on here. But to top it all off, not one of her children called her or anything for Christmas. And still she loves the Lord and all He's done for her. It's amazing.

There's this other less-active named Sister Naugle. (Her husband is an invalid named Irvin.) She's really grouchy and stole my heart because she always gets disgusted by people and threatens to throw up over it, which is something I do. She likes to talk and gossip about how everyone in the ward talks and gossips about each other. (Verbena). She's really funny. People here think it's hilarious to offer you a cold beer and then have it turn out that they were offering you root beer. Brother Vonnahme does it all the time and laughs every time he says it. So, it was as we were drinking a cold beer with Sister Naugle that she said, "I can't find my weed recipe!" And Sister Ford and I looked at each other like, "She has a WEED recipe?" Then when she found it we realized that she meant a recipe for a concoction you can spray on weeds to make them die. We had thought she meant a magic brownie recipe or something.

Oh, one more awful thing: we were talking to this lady who lives in this trailer park and she mentioned her son in Iraq and started talking about the most horrifying things ever and I really thought I was going to throw up: Camel Spiders. Look them up. I had no idea things like that existed and I've been traumatized ever since. I can't get them off my mind. It's horrible. Ugh.
Also, people love telling ghost stories here. I just flat out have to plug my ears because I can't handle them. I wish I had done that with the Camel Spiders but that one snuck up on me. So far my nightmares haven't had them in there, but I'm not holding my breath.

Extra Blessings: Dad, Otis x 2, Grubb. (Sidenote: Otis apologized for the wrinkled letters he sent me but told me that he gave them big hugs before he sent them. Biggest BYH ever.)

Instead of Word of the Week, I'm going to start 
Quote of the Week. What I'm going to do is give you a quote and then not tell you anything about it till next week's email. Good idea?
So, this week's quote of the week is: "Hold on. Let me put my pants on!"

I love you all. Beware of pride. It's the source of all our troubles. Don't fool yourself into thinking you know better than the Lord. The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson

Monday, December 26, 2011

So, I think I might be a witch. Here are some reasons why:

1) My hair resembles Hermione/Hagrid
2) Ever since I'm not allergic to them anymore, I've been obsessed with cats. And I seem to have the magic touch with them. Everyone's always like, "She usually won't go to anyone." And I'll be holding the cat like a baby with it purring loudly.
3) I don't really laugh; I cackle.
4) My wardrobe is mostly black.
5) I love magic and I'm AMAZING at it.
6) I was born right before Halloween.
and 7) I live in a place called Salem. Salem, Indiana. (Indiana... Massachusetts... same difference.)

I wouldn't be surprised if my skin started turning green soon.

So, yes. I have been transferred. Salem, Indiana. It's not at all what I imagined Indiana to be like. For some reason I was thinking it would be more of an urban state. But I'm in a town a little smaller than Corbin. The area that Sister Ford and I cover is about 1/4 the size of the Corbin area. Indiana is a lot different than Kentucky. Everyone has teeth here! It's crazy! My first day I just looked at everyone's teeth like "Wow! There's so many in there!" Also, people don't have accents here. A couple people have slight, very slight accents. But for the most part they sound just like you and me. The land is a lot more open here. Not really many hills. There's trees but they don't cover everything like they do in Kentucky. The trees have their own space and the fields have their own space and they don't fight each other like they did in Corbin.

Something interesting here is that if you're cooking a nice meal (for instance a Christmas Eve dinner or a Christmas luncheon) you have to have deviled eggs and macaroni and cheese or it isn't a real nice feast. (Kind of like how you would need rolls and a salad at one of the meals out west. Everyone here loves IU. They also hate my UK keychain. But, too bad for them. I was a Wildcat before I got here. And besides, what in the world is a Hoosier, anyway? Dad told me that we have a bunch of ancestors from around here on the Tebbs side which is cool. So I'm on the lookout for some handsome/beautiful, intelligent people with messed up feet and toenails. I'll keep you posted.

Corbin is one of the most progressing (meaning most success) areas in the mission. Salem is one of the least progressing areas in the mission. (See Genesis 41 to understand what I'm anticipating.) I'm sort of joking about that. Sister Ford is excited to find people here and so am I. We're going to work hard. But we'll find people. In Corbin we ran from teaching appointment to teaching appointment and never had any time to tract. If we did, it was for five minutes and we'd find an investigator every time. We have about 20-25 investigators with 8 of them real potentials for baptism in the next months. Here in Salem we have 3 forever investigators, none of which are willing to change their lives to be baptized. So, there's a stark contrast. Wish us luck. Or better yet, pray for us!

Sister Ford is a cool girl. She's from Layton, UT and she and I are creepily similar. Sister Ralph was her last companion and she would always write me and say how Sister Ford and I should serve together because we'd get along really well. She's an English major with a creative writing emphasis. She's left-handed. We have the same taste in movies. She loves musicals. We both love a certain drink that we shouldn't but we both do anyways... (Dr. Pepper). The more we talk the more we find in common. Oh yeah, and we were both trained by Sister Ralph. (Let's be honest, my first trainer didn't really train me. So in the mission we say that Sister Ralph was my Step-Mom, which makes Sister Ford and I step-sisters.)

I haven't met all the people in the ward yet. But there is one couple I have to tell you about. They are the Vonnahme's. They're hilarious. We ate Christmas Eve Dinner with them and then last night when they got back from their family stuff they had us over for chips and crackers. They're so sweet. They joined the church in their 20's and are now in their 70's. Sister Vonnahme is about 4 feet tall and she is EXACTLY who Martin Short based his Jimminy Glick character off of. She changes tone of voice five times in one sentence. She doesn't ever finish a thought. She asks questions and doesn't wait for the answer. She does outrageous facial expressions. She grabs onto whoever is next to her and pretends to faint. She loves everybody. She's constantly worried about how comfortable you are. She's a riot. Her husband, Brother Vonnahme is hilarious and mean and reminds me of Mermaid Man from Spongebob. He says off the wall things and then laughs twice really loudly and then stops and has a serious face like he wasn't laughing. He tells jokes with cuss words in them and Sister Vonnahme can't ever hear the joke so he'll repeat slowly and loudly the cuss word and then she'll get embarrassed and faint all over again. I want to video them for you.

I loved talking with the family yesterday. I'm so glad that you got to talk to Grubworm and Sherry and that Grubb had a good experience getting the Holy Ghost. Please call Otie and Willard. Let them all know I love them and miss them like crazy!

I love you all. I'm so grateful for the Savior and his choice to come to earth and be born to the circumstances He was born into for me. I'm grateful that He paid for my sins. I'm grateful that through Him we can all be together again someday. This is His church. I love you all. The church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson

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