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

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