Monday, February 27, 2012

Honk If You Love Liberty

 There's this Liberty Tax place that pays this woman to stand out on the sidewalk near an intersection, dressed as the Statue of Liberty and hold a sign that says, "Honk if you <3 Liberty". Not that unusual. But this lady is. She has long, bushy hair that used to be bleached blonde, probably in the summer time. So she has six inches of dark black roots and ends that are frayed and orange. She doesn't wear the crown right so the spikes don't form in an arch but droop and curl over her eyes. Most times that we pass her she has the sign between her legs and is digging under her gown for something in her pants pockets or drinking hot chocolate or texting or talking on the phone. It's not the ideal image of Lady Liberty. But she makes me smile and while I don't like taxes all that much, I love liberty, so I honk when I see her.

We had a great lesson with one of our Forever Investigators named Wende this week. When you have gone through all the lessons several times, you kind of just start making up lessons of your own or reading with the investigator or doing whatever the Spirit prompts you to do. This week we read Alma 24 with her and talked about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies and how they would rather die than commit a sin that they'd repented of. We challenged her to pray about something that she could give up and "bury" and she immediately said that she wanted to give up alcohol. She said that for the last couple years she's been meeting with the missionaries she always thought it was ridiculous that we had rules saying we couldn't drink but a couple weeks ago she got a really sore throat and couldn't drink her nightly glass of wine and she said even though she was sick she felt a lot better from not drinking. She felt like the Lord was gently pushing her in the direction of giving it up and that the lesson was exactly what she needed to finally decide to quit.

 There's this fireside that President and Sister Woodbury put on at the mission home on the last Sunday of every month for investigators and recent converts. Since I've been down in   Corbin for most of my mission, I've never had the chance to come up for any of them because it's a three hour drive to Louisville. Now it's only a one hour drive so we can go if we can get a ride and get a recent convert or investigator to come with us. Last night was the first time I've been able to go and it was really nice. Usually the speaker is a convert and then after the speaker they open up the floor for testimonies from the investigators/converts. It was a really neat experience and a great experience for our recent convert. President and Sister Woodbury actually were the speakers this time and decided to tell conversion stories from their ancestors. One of Sister Woodbury's ancestors was the daughter of Parley P Pratt. She used to fall asleep between Parley and the Prophet Joseph when he came over to talk and she'd sometimes end up sprawling herself across the two men. She said that absentmindedly Joseph would sometimes start playing with her ringlets and twisting them between his fingers. She talked about how much she loved the prophet. Then Sister Woodbury said that that girl's granddaughter used to tell stories about pioneers and travel around Utah to speak and she'd always end by shaking everyone's hand. That granddaughter was Sister Woodbury's grandma. She ended the night by shaking everyone's hand and saying what her grandma said, just one person farther: "You just shook hands with someone who shook hands with someone who shook hands with the Prophet Joseph." 
It was cool. It made him seem a lot closer for some reason. He really did exist. He shook hands with someone who shook hands with someone who shook hands with Sister Woodbury who shook hands with me. Basically I'm a celebrity now and will shake hands with you when I get home for a small, but reasonable fee. Our recent convert's biggest hero is Joseph Smith so it was a perfect night to bring him. This man's name is Brother Hobson. I've mentioned him before. He's trying to get some names ready to take to the temple for his dad and other people that have passed away. And ever since he has, Satan has pulled out all the stops to try and keep him from getting there. It's ludicrous. Brother Hobson keeps calling us and saying, "I wouldn't believe if I wasn't living it." He's just had one thing after another after another. The latest thing was that he had this woman he was CRAZY about run into him and ask him to go drinking with her and then spend the night afterwards. You have to understand that he's a recent convert and that is something he would have loved to do a year ago. It was very hard for him to turn her down. Then she showed up later that night on his doorstep, drunk and wanting to come inside. He said that the only thing that kept him from letting her in was thinking about everything that Joseph Smith went through for his testimony and knowing that if Joseph could endure all of that, he could pass up on this woman. We were so proud of him. And when he got to shake Sister Woodbury's hand we were so excited for him. Afterwards we asked him how he felt and he said, "That was cool, but it wasn't the first time I've shook Joseph's hand. We were best friends in the pre-existence." Haha. That could have been true, except neither of them had bodies in the pre-existence so the most they did was probably air-five each other.

We tried to visit this less-active lady we'd never met the other night and when I called to see if it was alright if we come out to her house she said, "Oh no, Honey! There's wild animals out here. You can only come in the daytime." Two days later when we got to her house, the driveway of which we passed probably five times, was a cabin buried deep in the trees. She told us about the bobcats and coyotes and wolves and snakes and foxes and raccoons. I mean, this lady said they literally WON'T leave their house after dark. It was nuts.

We were eating at a member family's house and the husband and wife were telling us about their love story and the Sister said, "When he asked me to marry him I threw up. Seriously." I was like, "You threw up?" "I was nervous. I knew it was coming all day and hadn't been able to eat much and then he took me on this date but never fed me so when he finally asked me, I threw up." How romantic. Haha.

By the way, the lady at the computer next to mine keeps falling asleep. Her head will slowly 
 start to droop forward in increments until finally her nose hits one of the keys on her keyboard and she wakes up and knocks something off the table. She had to climb under my feet to get her pen a couple seconds ago. It was awkward. She looks exhausted. It's sad but funny.

Brother Winslow came to church again this week and the Vonnahmes usually sit with him but they were sick so I sat with him because he's blind and needs help with the Sacrament and he can hardly hear so he just needs help. There was a youth speaker who is this boy that doesn't look twelve, but thinks he's 25. In the middle of his talk Brother Winslow leaned over to me and tried to whisper, but loudly said, "That little girl sounds like she's about 12 years old!" Haha. I died. I said, "She's not a girl, but she is 12." It was awesome.

I think Luke is my favorite Gospel. I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure. Luke has all these tender details that prick my heart in a unique way. I love reading it. I also love Jesus the Christ. How did Talmage walk around with a brain like his? It must have hurt to have so much knowledge and that vocabulary. I borrowed an thick Oxford Dictionary from Brother Vonnahme and there are words he uses that aren't even in there. I didn't understand why the Church approved this 
 book as one of four books we missionaries are allowed to read outside of the scriptural cannon. I thought it would be a good book, but nothing to extraordinary. This book is insane. Every page tells you more about the Savior than you've ever realized. Every page makes non-believers look so blind. I don't know how he does it, but I love it. The Savior has literally been given life in my thoughts and my feelings because Talmage has brought him to life. He takes what I read from the scriptures and adds context and fact and historical information and pulls details out about the personality and the love of Christ that my reading hasn't been able to penetrate on its own. I love reading it. And I love the big words he uses. And the notes at the end of each chapter are fascinating. It's not light reading and it's not something you can take with you on a vacation and read in a couple days. But the benefits and the rewards of reading it are impacting me like crazy.


Something else that has opened my eyes this last couple weeks is a talk that both Mom and Dad individually felt inspired to send me. Unbeknownst to each other they individually sent it to me and it really has changed the way I look at repentance and the Atonement. I don't know if we can ever get a firm grasp on the Atonement. It seems like I learn something new about it every time I study. I know people recommend talks a lot and whenever people recommend them to me I skim through them and think they're nice and maybe this talk won't affect you all the way it's affecting me, but I have to give you the link just in case. You know how you can hear something over and over again but for some reason when you hear it the 1,000th time it clicks. It's like a whole new piece of information. You've been shown and told this over and over again, but it's so new to you when you finally get it. I've started seeing my goals differently because of this talk. Christ already conquered all of my sins. He paid for them. I don't repent to try and pay Him back. I can't pay Him back. What He asks of us isn't to pay Him back. It's to make of ourselves what we can't if we're weighed down with sin. I used to think that trying to reach heaven was trying to somehow get me with all my faults and my weaknesses to somehow be allowed into heaven by the grace of God. That's not the case. What I'm supposed to do is do away with my faults and my weaknesses and become someone that is welcomed into heaven, not allowed in against its better judgment. It's about more than cleaning, it's about refining.

Not to be bossy or anything, but if you have the chance, you should feed the missionaries. We sent around a calendar in Relief Society yesterday for the month of March and out of roughly 20 people we got two dinners. I'm sure you're all busy, but it's nice to be let into members' homes and fed and interact with families. No judgments or anything, it's just a thought.

Carly is getting married on Saturday! I hope everything goes perfectly. I wish I could be there!

Extra Blessings: Hayley & Otis
Quote of the Week: "I like you, but I'm not going to die for you."

Lent starts today. 40 days till Easter is here.


Sis Nelson

Monday, February 20, 2012

Vernon & Erven

Erven Stone Nelson! This whole time we've been thinking that Val had a basketball in her stomach but it turned out to be a pink, blonde, blue-eyed Stone! Hurray! I need pictures upon pictures of him and of Val and the girls and Joel and everyone. I also need a list of all the things Big Erv has come up with about how Stone is hard headed or steadfast and immovable or whatever other corny jokes he's come up with about his name. And don't worry Val, I'll have a song for Erven Stone, too; I just need some time to think about it because I want it to be the right one. So now the Nelson babies go:5,4,3,2,1,0 (Nixon,Lily,Miles,Violet,Lorenzo,Stone) The stair steps continue! Paige, Nick, I'm looking at you two to keep the trend going.


This week has been a much better week than last week. As you can already tell, I have a new nephew! Violet is now a big sister and Lily is now the biggest sister. And Enzo has a new best friend. It's all so exciting to think about. Aside from the New Nelson... Salem also has a new investigator!

His name is Vernon Dursley. Fine, fine. His name is Vernon Smith but we refer to him as Vernon Dursley whenever he's not around because we've already met a Rowena in Salem and now we have a Vernon and we're just hoping to collect the whole bunch. I might just die if I meet an Albus! Or a Remus! Or a Lucius! (Basically any of the "us"-es.) So, back to Vernon Dursley. So, we had a blitz with the Charlestown Sisters, (CharlesTOWN, not Charleston) Sister Noakes, the Sister from Las Vegas who used to be in Berea near Corbin and Sister Wood who is actually a Sister from the Temple Square mission but is here for three months doing her "outbound" where she gets to see what it's like to be a proselyting missionary instead of a visitor's center missionary. She knows Kelsey Andersen who is also serving in Temple Square. We always go to lunch together after district meeting because they're so fun. Well, we did a blitz and they came to Salem for the blitz. Sister Noakes and Sister Ford went and visited a less-active that we see every week while Sister Wood and I went looking for a less-active that hasn't had much contact with the church for years.

It was quite the adventure. We took Carmen (our GPS) and headed out into the midst of Washington County looking for a lady by the name of Evelyn Smith. When we turned down Canton Rd my heart leapt! This is the way to Amish country! Sister Wood is a much bigger fan of my "Baptize the Amish" Campaign than Sister Ford so we were really, really excited. It was completely dark outside because out in the country they don't have street lights. So, Leroy had his brights on and we wound through the trees, passing a dead skunk every mile or so, keeping our eyes peeled for Amish people. We passed a yellow street sign that would normally have had a stick figure woman crossing the street but instead there was a depiction of a horse pulling a buggie! We both got the chills (not to mention we were listening to the Hymsney CD while this happened so we already had chills, but when we saw the sign, our chills got chills!) A couple miles later we couldn't find the mailbox for Evelyn and we weren't quite sure where to go so we pulled over to study Carmen when the car that had been behind us pulled up next to us and rolled down its "winder", a wonderful hillbilly accent came from the dark car, "Yuns lost?" "We're looking for Evelyn Smith." The lady in the car excitedly put out her cigarette and said, "Evelyn Smith? I know right where she lives! Foller me!" She sped off and I hurried to keep up with her.

A few turns later she slowed down in front of an old trailer and honked her horn and pointed. We waved our thanks and she sped off into the blackness. Sister Wood and I got out of the car, not knowing what to expect. Would Evelyn be mean? Would she tell us to leave? Would she even answer the door? Would she sic her dogs on us? We shut our car doors and finally were able to listen to the sounds of the night around us. In the distance we heard clip clop clip clop clip clop clip clop accompanied by the sound of tires rolling on a dirt path. We glanced at each other. Amish people! We waited and pretended like we needed something in our car so that we wouldn't have to go knock on Evelyn's door. The clip-clopping got louder. Finally, over the crest of the hill we saw a dark figure emerge. The horse came into view first, then the buggie. There were two men in it, dressed in black, wearing hats and sporting wiry neck beards. As they passed we smiled and waved and said, "Hello." They nodded in response. And then, as quickly as they had come, they were gone, over the next hill. Sister Wood and I were beside ourselves with excitement. Taking that as a good omen, we confidently knocked on the door of the Smith trailer.

Immediately a chubby, little girl with unruly hair came to the door and stared at us through the screen. I asked for Evelyn. She ran away. Then a large woman came to the door, followed by six dogs of all different colors and sizes. She opened the door and told us not to be afraid because they don't bite and ushered us in. We found chairs and were instantly sharing our laps with three dogs apiece. The little chubby girl was pretending not to notice us but trying to get the dogs to play with her instead of us. There was a large man in the corner of the room on a couch looking at his laptop. The lady, Evelyn, sat down and started talking to us like she had expected us and we were old friends, not two strangers that had knocked on her trailer in the middle of the woods late in the evening. I at once noticed her teeth, or lack of teeth (two on top and two on the bottom) and felt completely at home. A genuine hillbilly! They aren't extinct up here! They're just a little harder to find than they are in Kentucky. 

The three of us fell into easy conversation and she told us about joining the church and then how she fell out of activity and how she still loved "the Mormons" so much, but just hadn't been able to get to church in the last few decades. We read from Alma 40 with her because she had lost a niece recently. As we got more and more comfortable in there, her son who was in the corner started piping up and adding his comments. We asked him his name. "Vernon". Sister Wood and I caught each other's eye (she's a big Harry Potter fan, too). We talked to Mr. Dursley about religion and asked him if he'd been baptized or not and he said that he'd been baptized in the Westside Baptist Church in Salem and had attended for three years but had quit because he never felt comfortable or welcome there. He had a hard time putting his feelings into words. He finally said, "You know how in a church you should feel the Holy Spirit? I couldn't there. It just wasn't right for some reason. So I stopped going." "Well, would you be interested in finding the right church where you did feel welcome and did feel the Spirit?" "I'd be very interested." Hurray! We have an appointment with him on Friday so I'll let you know how it goes next week. As we were leaving Evelyn told us to watch for deer. "I've hit five myself. They're sneaky." Noted. Then, Sister Wood and I headed out to the car and as we did we heard another strain of clip clop clip clop clip clop. We looked at each other again. More Amish people! Basically the same scene from before repeated itself except this time there were three neck-bearded men in the buggie. Perfect bookends to a wonderful lesson with Vernon Dursley. We took it as another sign of good things to come.

The next morning Sister Wood and I tracted the country which means that you walk for a mile and then come to a house and knock it and then walk a half a mile to the next house and knock it and keep walking and then every once in a while knocking a door. We tracted for two hours and knocked 5 doors. Seriously. But it was fun and we talked to some nice people. The people in the country are a lot nicer than the people in the town. Mainly because they're shocked that you found them and that you walked to find them so they feel bad turning you away without at least a little conversation. We talked to a mortician that drives all the way to Louisville every week for church because it's like the biggest church in the state or something. They have a gym and a coffee shop and a restaurant and over 50,000 people attend weekly. He said he likes it because it's so impersonal. He likes being able to talk to God on his own terms and not have the church bother him throughout the week or expect anything extra from him. Our church is definitely not what he's looking for then. He was very friendly but very sure that he wasn't interested in what we had to say.

Chuck Bass - cheesy actor
 This one house we walked to took us about a half mile and then the driveway was about 3/4 of a mile up a hill to this enormous house that looked like a giant set of Lincoln Logs. The lady that opened the door immediately asked, "Are you looking for Tammy? Cause she's not here." "We're not looking for Tammy. We're missionaries--" "Well, I don't live here." "Well, we're not looking for the person who lives here, we're missionaries--" But she seemed to think that we would only have wanted to talk to Tammy and then faked a sore throat and pretended she was worried about getting us sick and then shut the door. I felt like saying, "Lady, we just trekked a mile and a half to get up here, at least let us tell you what church we're from." But I didn't. Instead, Sister Wood and I walked back down the driveway and went on, glad to be missionaries that have the truth. Upon meeting up with Sisters Ford and Noakes later in the day we found out that they tracted into a man that apparently looks just like Chuck Bass. It was probably a good thing that I hadn't tracted into him or I would have had a hard time remembering I'm an unattached, decidedly romance-less missionary.

Laura and Shawn came to church again this week and Sister Ford and I were there, too, so it was extra awesome. They also stayed for all three hours which they've never done before. This recent convert that we've been working with came to Sacrament Meeting for the first time in months as well. So did Brother Winslow. It was a good day at church.

Still no word from Laura Mullins. Please keep praying that she'll call us back. She has so much potential.

When the people moved in next wall and started smoking, our landlords bought us an air filter (named Phil). When the lady was trying to figure out how to work it, she got out the instructions and thumbed through them and in disgust said, "This isn't in English! ... oh wait. Yes, it is. Nevermind." Haha. I don't know how she didn't recognize that the words were the language that she learned from a child and has spoken and read for nearly 50 years, but she didn't. It reminded me of something Mom would do.

Extra Blessings: Carly & Brynn, Otis, Sister Clemons, Judy & Dad
Quote of the Week: "When he asked me to marry him I threw up. Seriously."

I found out this week that someone that greatly impacted my life and means a lot to me, passed away. A lot of people seem to be dealing with the loss of a friend or loved one lately. I've been imagining what it will be like for these people, some more prepared than others, as they have their interview with the Lord. I keep picturing my own interview with Him. How awful will it be to have to meet our Maker in stained and spotted clothes. I hope I don't have to. The Holy Ghost has been given to us to sanctify us so that we can stand spotless before Him at our judgment. How sad if we pass up the opportunity to do so, to be cleansed. I hope that my clothing I'm given to wear will be white and pure like the driven snow. I know it can be if I will use the Atonement consistently.

I love you all. I love being a missionary. I love Erven Stone!

The Church is TRUE! Share it!


Sis Nelson/Aunt Brookie

Poke Your Hontiss

Hello. A lot of this week was spent in our house because Sister Ford is still quite sick. Still, there's not really any dull moments in my life. Sister Ford and I can talk for hours and not get bored so it's perfect that we're the ones that would be together through these last weird transfers.

An elderly couple moved in next door this last week. And by next door I mean next wall. We live in a duplex thing where it used to be one house and then they put up a flimsy wall and turned it into two places. As luck would have it, the people next wall are chain smokers. Another lucky thing is that Sister Ford (who has never been sick and never been allergic to anything before meeting me) found out that she's allergic to smoke. Our landlady came over and put that putty stuff on all the openings and doors that lead to the other apartment to try and stop the smell and the smoke and the cancer to seep through to us, but it didn't help that much. So, all our clothes, couches and carpets now smell like we live in a casino. The landlady bought us an air filter (we named him Phil) and he works pretty well. But he only works for the room he's in. So we have to carry him upstairs at night when we go to bed. And we'll be in our main room and be fine but if you walk into the kitchen or the bathroom, the Smoke Monster has full reign. 

(Sad side note: Sister Ford has never seen LOST and therefore doesn't know who the Smoke Monster is). Sister Ford isn't going to complain about it anymore though because she's not too bad if she's next to Phil and she'll probably be transferred next month anyways. Oh, ALSO: Sister Ford has never had a bloody nose... until we went to the Roberts a while ago. She go the bloody nose as we were petting their dogs before knocking on their door. So, we're out in the middle of farm country with no Kleenexes or anything. I knocked on the door and the first thing Sister Ford had to say was, "Hi, can I use your bathroom, I have a bloody nose." It was HILARIOUS. Poor girl. She was the healthiest person. Then she was paired with the unhealthiest person. Haha.

So, we have these people that the missionaries have been teaching for a couple years that won't get married and don't come to church but want us to come teach them once a week. Yesterday Sister Ford was so sick that we MISSED CHURCH. This is the first time I've missed church since I've been a missionary. Well, that couple that won't come to church... came to church... on the one week we didn't. Sister Ford cried. I laughed so that I wouldn't cry.

Even more good news: yesterday I was going to run out to the car to get something and I opened the door and watched as a man tried parallel parking in front of our car (our car's name is Leroy, not Luh-roy, but Lee-roy). Well, the man didn't do a very good job because he backed into our car. There was a loud popping noise. He pulled forward and saw me walk over and then he got out and looked at the damage. There wasn't much, but the bottom of the front fender was cracked in half. He said he didn't think that his car could have done it. Uhhh.... So, we exchanged information, except for his insurance because he couldn't find any insurance cards in his car that hadn't expired. He lives across the street so he can't hide from us. But still. If I had opened the door thirty seconds later, he would have hit it, looked at the car, and ran inside so that we couldn't prove anything.

There's this dog that lives somewhere in the vicinity of our house. I don't know where he is, but if I ever find him, I might kill him... or his owners. I've never heard a bark like this dog's. I actually can't even call it a bark. It's a pain-filled, desperate, "I'm being bludgeoned with a hammer"-type yelp. It's horrible. And I don't know how his vocal chords haven't fallen out by now because it's a broken record. It's this painful cry over and over and over and over and over and it never stops. It sounds like he's dying. But he won't ever actually die! Someone needs to put the poor thing out of its misery. If not him, then me, please.

Since Sister Ford and I have been cooped up in our house a lot lately, we've done a lot of talking about nothing. It could have been cabin fever or maybe a real fever, but the other day Sister Ford went to say yamaka and tomahawk at the same time and ended up saying "Yamahawk". This sparked a rather lengthy dreaming up of a Jewish super hero that wore a tomahawk disguised as a yamaka on his head.


Sister Ford's favorite Disney movies are the two movies that Mom never let us own or watch after we saw them in theatres because she hated the animation/stories: Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The only memories I have of those movies are: "Poor the Wine and Cut the Cheese!", God Help the Outcasts, Colors of the Wind, and Sis thinking it was pronounced "Poke Your Hontiss". 

Otis passed the sacrament for the first time last week. He said that he felt like he was back in Military because he was trying to walk in such a straight line. He loved the temple.

There's these things that sound like the T-Rex from Jurassic Park and look like a donkey on steroids called Mammoth Jacks. One of the members here has one and it is HUGE. You need to look them up. While we were at this member's house, the wife told us how she very, very much wanted us to be honest if we didn't like something she fed us because if she could tell that we'd lied to her, she'd make the exact same thing the next time we came. She assured us an reassured us that she wanted to know if we didn't like something and that she wouldn't be offended. So, when she gave us fruit I decided to eat what I liked and not take any blueberries. She noticed and asked me why I didn't take any. I gulped, scared, "Because I don't like blueberries." She gasped, "What don't you like about them?" "Umm, the way they taste." (Isn't that the only answer for why someone doesn't like a certain food?) "Oh, well, don't you know that blueberries are good for you?" I didn't know we were talking about nutrition, I thought we were talking about if we like a food or not. I just tried to change the subject and vowed never again to fall into the trap of being honest about food preferences on my mission.

Extra Blessings: Otis x 3, Malachi, Dad, Rex, Nina, Paige, Grandma Bonnie & Grandpa Rex
Quote of the Week: "This isn't in English! ... oh wait. Yes, it is. Nevermind."

There's a difference between belief and faith. Satan and his minions believe in Christ. Belief doesn't save us. What Satan doesn't have is FAITH in Christ. Faith is our beliefs paired with righteous actions. It's proof of what we believe and what we cherish and respect. People who think that their knowledge will save them, need to open their eyes and stop giving themselves excuses not to be obedient. I'm included in that bunch. Faith without works is dead. I don't care what the churches out here say otherwise.

I know this sounds like a grumpy email. I didn't mean for it to sound that way. I love being a missionary and wouldn't trade this opportunity for anything. Even Elvis... probably.

Just kidding. Even for Elvis.

The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson

Monday, February 6, 2012

"Tuwatha, Tuwatha -- Willow!"

Since I've been in Salem, Sister Ford and I have added three new investigators to our teaching pool: Laura, Ruby and Randy. You already know about Laura. Ruby, we're going to be dropping soon. And Randy was a former investigator that the Sisters worked with for 9 months. He's the brother of a recent convert, Brother Hobson. Brother Hobson is the guy that I sent the video of with the sour spray. Anyways, Randy has been battling cancer for about two years now and sadly, but at the same time mercifully was able to escape his devastating pain when he passed away early Tuesday morning. This week has been spent with Brother Hobson and with Rowena, Brother Hobson's mom. She's a wonderful lady who suffers from Alzheimer's. She's had a hard time dealing with Randy's death, believing it happened and so forth.

Saturday, Sister Ford and I met Brother Hobson at Westside Baptist Church and put together the picture displays and set up all of Randy's UK memorabilia (which of course I loved since Randy was the only UK fan I've met up here). Randy chose to be cremated so it was technically a memorial service, but it's basically the same thing as a funeral. This was my first non-LDS funeral and you can call me biased, but I prefer them the "Mormon" way. (Randy and Brother Hobson's other brother, Mark, commented that our display we set up seemed very "Mormon" because they focused on Randy's family instead of just him). Anyways, it was nice, but I didn't really feel the Spirit all that much. I guess I've taken for granted that even though funerals are very sad, you always feel the Spirit there, comforting you.

There wasn't too much of it at this one. I agreed with the preacher that Randy was in a better place and out of pain, but it wasn't all that comforting after that. The preacher had only met Randy during the last few months of his life and didn't really know him all that well. He tried sharing memories they'd had together but you could tell he was pulling from two or three instances. They didn't open with a prayer. There were really bad jokes dispersed between a couple of Bible verses, then he had everyone sing an A Capella rendition of "Amazing Grace" where one of the verses was literally "Praise God, Praise God, Praise God..." over and over again. I did like that he encouraged everyone to let go of the bad memories, the hard memories and hold onto the good ones. Then he had everyone bow their heads (which I've seen done at churches in Corbin) and close their eyes and then said that if there was anyone in the audience who hadn't accepted Christ into their life to raise their hand. After about a 30 second silence there with our heads down, he said we could all get up and go to the meal that had been prepared. And then it was over. It was very interesting. It wasn't a bad day, but it made me sad for Randy's family that they didn't have as much peace and hope that I've felt at funerals done the "Mormon" way.

Sister Ford has been really sick this week. She's had pleurisy which is something that people with asthma experience a lot. And I remember the first couple times I felt it how scary it was. Basically, it's really sharp, intense pains like you're being stabbed in the heart when you move or breathe. Haha. That sounds dramatic, and it is. But it's not a heart attack. It's just really painful. She woke up with those pains and asked me about them and we called the Bishop (remember he's a doctor) and he told her it's a pleurisy virus that's been going around lately. She also might be anemic. We went to the doctor this week (where I got to sit in the waiting room for two hours and die of boredom while she got her blood taken and so forth). It's been quite the switch. Sister Ford NEVER gets sick. Ever. So she's having a hard time with the fact that she has to rest and can't do what she wants to do. It's sad, but also a little funny to watch as she's almost shocked that when the doctor tells her to stay in bed and rest that she can't walk around and stay awake all day, but she really is tired and weak. I do hope that she'll get some results this week though because I don't like seeing her in pain and she and I both hate sitting around not having any progress in this area not because we don't work but because we can't work. Sister Ford keeps saying, "Couldn't Heavenly Father have had me sick while you were sick?" I think he could, but there wouldn't be any irony in that. And since we're both writers, our lives need to be filled with irony or else we won't have any inspiration to draw from when we start writing stories back at home. Though I don't know if that's the best thing to tell her right now so I just say, "We'll just pray for health." and then I tell her funny stories while she's in bed. I've also juggled for her a couple times. I've started to sing some opera for her but she gets really emotional when I do and insists I stop "for her ears' sake". She just doesn't want me to see her cry. Sometimes having this voice is such a gift that it turns into a curse. Ces't la vie.

So, I hear that Mom, Dad, Rex and Nina are the new poster family for the Romney Campaign. Doesn't surprise me. If you're lucky you'll make it onto the Colbert Report. If you do, I want his autograph, please.

I can't wait to hear about little Gunnar Turbo Erven or whatever he ends up being named. There's this family in the Salem Ward that had a little girl this week and named her Willow. Maybe the baby will grow up to marry a man named Mad Martigan. Send me pictures of Gunnar, please!

Blind, deaf, and booty-short-wearing Bro. Winslow
Last week I forgot to explain the quote about the blind man driving a tractor. I've talked about Brother Winslow before. He's the man who wears the booty shorts who is blind. Well, he's blind but he won't let anyone do anything for him. He's very independent and lives on his own. He built his own elevator in his house. I've ridden on it. Well, he needed to jump his car and he has this jumping machine in his garage but it was behind his tractor and instead of letting me lift it and bring it out of the garage, he jumped his old tractor and then backed it out of the garage onto the grass and then brought the machine out, got an extension cord and jumped his car. Then he put the machine back in the garage and drove the tractor in again, blocking the machine from the car if in the future he needs to jump his car. It was crazy. Sometimes I don't believe he's blind. But other times I'm convinced he's blind because of the horribly positioned holes on his shorts. He got on the tractor and took his stick and banged it on either side of the garage door so he would know where not to drive and then just backed up. It was crazy. Sister Ford and I didn't really know what to do with ourselves. Then, once he got out the door, he turned the wheel really hard to the left so that the tractor backed off the driveway into the grass and he barely missed the potted plants and his boat. He's nuts. I got a picture of him the other day in some new shorts he has that don't have any holes in them. He came to church for the first time since I've been here yesterday and it was the first time I've seen him in a shirt and pants. He's hilarious.

Last week in PEC, the brethren were talking about a less-active man that is apparently a cross-dresser... who's mom died last winter. The man sitting next to me commented on the whole new wardrobe he inherited at her passing. It was awful and hilarious.

This week Otis sent me a huge box and inside it was a GIANT slab of deer sausage. It was perfect. I just imagined him sitting there, thinking, "What's the best thing I could send Sis? Well, what's MY favorite thing in the world? Deer sausage. She'll love deer sausage, too." Biggest BYH.

Sister Ralph wrote me and told me that she spoke to Willard and he told her he went to the temple with 17 family names last week and that one of those names was his wife, Mary's. He said he could feel her there when she was baptized! It makes me cry! I can't wait till he gets to go to the temple in July and be sealed to her!

I've been struck this week with how the Lord has given the Saints every tool we need for happiness. If we feel abandoned, if we feel like the Lord isn't delivering something He's promised us, we shouldn't ask why we are missing out. We should re-evaluate ourselves. If we aren't getting answers, we need to fix our prayers and our scripture study. If we aren't getting a blessing, we need to get rid of a distraction to make room for the blessing. The tools are all at our disposal: prayer, fasting, repentance, church, callings, scriptures, temple, etc. The Lord doesn't mess up or keep things from us. We're the ones that get in the way of our progression, not God. He loves us too much to hold us back.

Extra Blessings: Paige, Otis & Sister Ralph
Quote of the Week: "Yamahawk."

I love you all. I think about you all the time. Monday afternoons are never long enough for me to be able to write everyone I want to. But I think about you and am grateful for you. The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson