Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Oy! Theh goes my Ulsah!!

Ulcers! Sister Ford has ulcers! We just got out of the hospital where she had a camera shoved down her throat and they found a scar from a previous ulcer and the beginnings of another ulcer. They also think something actually IS wrong with her gallbladder. Transfers are tomorrow and she's getting shipped away but she'll be back on Wednesday for the gallbladder tests and then in a couple weeks for the results. I think she's going to be transferred to Charlestown because otherwise she wouldn't be able to come back and forth without putting a lot of miles on the car. I'm really going to miss her. We have so much fun together and I can't imagine having another companion who I have more in common with. The only differences we have are that she hates peanut butter but loves peanuts (I'm the opposite), she's never been sick, I'm always sick and in my heaven I'll be a mermaid while in her heaven she'll be a unicorn. That's basically the only ways we aren't the same person. The worst part about transfers is the not knowing. Even if you don't mesh completely well with a companion, at least you know how your dynamic works and how to go about things together. With a new companion comes new quirks and new temperaments. You lose your personal jokes with your last companion. You have to do all the get to know you questions all over. The first week or two is just awkward. You go from "Hi, I've never met you before," to, "You can't ever get rid of me" right away. It's stressful to think about. But I've loved all my companions so far and I've worked well with almost all of them so I know it won't be too bad. At least I don't have to get to know a new companion and a new area and a new ward and new investigators. That's even more to deal with.

This week has been more cleaning up after the tornado and some teaching and some community service outside of tornado clean-up. Oh yeah, and I've had the flu. When it rains it pours... then it hails... and then it tornadoes. But I'm actually starting to feel a little better today which is good because we have so much to do after we're done here at the library: packing, cleaning, saying goodbyes, plus Sister Ford is supposed to be resting today after her procedure, though I don't think much resting will be done with our checklist looming. But that's later. Now, I have some stories.

On Saturday we went and volunteered at a fundraiser chili cook-off for a non-profit program that is for illiterate adults in Washington County. It teaches them to read free of charge. It seems like something I'd love to volunteer for when I get off my mission. I can't right now because our mission schedule doesn't allow for as much time as would be needed to volunteer. But, the Sisters who were in Salem last year at this time volunteered and so they called us to see if we'd be willing to help out.

 It was fun. We were in charge of the children's games. There was a duck pond thing and a corn-hole game. It's a fun game kind of like a giant bean bag toss that's very popular in Indiana and Kentucky and probably other farm places. It seemed like forever since I'd been around kids. They're hilarious. We're not allowed to hug or be alone with kids but since this was a huge Bingo hall that we met in, we were allowed to be with the kids and not be alone with the kids. The people in the chili cook-off all came and set up their tables and decorated the tables and dressed up. It was insane. There was this one booth where the dad dressed up as Willy Wonka and his wife and three daughters were all Umpa Loompas. There were pioneers. There were cheese-heads. The people in the community paid a ticket to get in and then they could walk around and get whatever chili they wanted and try all different people's. Then there was voting and prizes. Since we volunteered we got free tickets for the food. The lady who was in charge (who looked like a larger version of the red-head from In Living Color told us to get a bowl and try out as many stands as we wanted. I'd been eyeing the cheese head stand for a while because I figured their chili would have something to do with cheese. Then I noticed that the man behind the stand (who was wearing a giant cheese hat) had a long, wiry ponytail. A while later I caught a different angle of him and realized that his ponytail was actually a string wrapped around his dreadlocks. Plus, he had a mustache that was so light that it was skin colored. It was nauseating to be honest. 

After seeing him I decided I didn't want to go to the cheese-head stand. I was afraid of getting one of his hairs in my chili. Sister Ford just brushed my concerns aside and talked me into trying the chili because that wasn't going to happen. So, we try the chili (by the way, people in Indiana chili is made up of noodles, tomato juice and sometimes meat and sometimes beans. It's nothing like our chili out west). The chili was actually pretty good and I just didn't look at the man as I ate it so I was fine....... until I got about 3/4 of the way through my bowl, then I saw it: a hair. GAG. Gag-gag-gag-gag! Ew. I'm getting sick right now just typing it out. That bowl of cheese-hair chili soon found itself hitting the bottom of the trash can. YUCK. I changed my mind. I'm actually glad Sister Ford is leaving. Not really. But I'll never forgive her for talking me into eating dread lock hair. The people who won the awards weren't the people who deserved it. Instead of awarding the group with the best taste, people just voted for whatever booth their church put on. The biggest church (Westside Baptist where Randy had his memorial) was the winner. Whatever. It was still fun to be with the kids.

Sunday after church another work party from the ward went out to Pekin. This time we went into the area where that family died. They have a little memorial set up that's only distinguishable from the rest of the rubble by its caution tape surrounding it. There's these things that look like weird art sculptures that are twisted shapes of metal and debris every hundred feet or so. Those are what used to be mobile homes. There are foundations that have nothing left of the house that used to be there. It's nuts. I'm sending pictures. We got these really attractive vests we got to wear that say Mormon Helping Hands. I also have a shirt of the same design. It's neat to be able to help in something like this. Though it feels like what we're doing is so insignificant. At one point yesterday we were at the "home" of a lady whose house lost its roof and windows and had some cracking in the walls and the inside is just messed up. We were cleaning out the insulation from what's left of the woods around her house. It was everywhere. I don't think we'll ever get it all. 

The crossroads for Salem and Charlestown

The Pekin Church Rescue effort - Sis. Brooke is in there somewhere

Sis. Ford stand between 2 volunteers - the pictures above were online and in newspapers
When we got there someone said, "You have a beautiful view up here." She replied, "We didn't used to have a view until the tornado." Then she started crying. Her husband had build their home (a genuine log cabin) all on his own and now he's determined to rebuild it. It kept them safe during the storm which is the most important thing. But it's still hard to watch people deal with losing almost everything else. I found some sheet music and some puzzle pieces and a checkbook and all sorts of things out in the woods. Sister Ford found their headboard. There was this tree that was bent but not at an angle, but in a perfect arc. At some point I'll send home all the pictures I've been taking. It's all so crazy. I'm so blessed to be able to be here right now. I'm so grateful to be able to help in any small way I can physically and I hope that I'll be able to help spiritually as well. These people don't even know what they're missing. I mean, they know that they're missing a roof or a car or a pantry. But they have no clue what else they're missing. The gospel is going to be able to fill in any gaps that are left after their physical needs are met. Please pray that the people in Pekin will have their hearts softened.

Sorry this is going to be short, but today is a busy day. Oh yeah, one more thing.

Brother Vonnahme was a Catholic before he found the church when he was 26. And before he graduated high school he thought he wanted to be a priest. He was getting everything together so that he could become a priest when he discovered girls. Or as he put it, "I was seriously considering becoming a Catholic priest; then I got my first taste of lipstick. I discovered the wonder of girls and I haven't looked back since." Speaking of the Vonnahmes, Sister Vonnahme went into the hospital yesterday morning and by the afternoon they had transferred her to the hospital down in New Albany. She has pneumonia, a urinary tract infection, a bladder infection, and a gall stone. They also thought she had a minor heart attack for a while but I'm not sure they think that's what it was anymore. She's going to be down there doing tests for the next couple days. It's really sad. She's "disgusted" that she won't be able to say bye to Sister Ford but we told her that Sister Ford would visit her when she's here for her doctor's appointment so that cheered her up a bit.

Extra Blessings: Bon-Bon
Quote of the Week: "The hearse ain't gonna have no U-Haul on the back of it."

Thank you for your continued prayers. I love you all and I think about you and miss you more than you realize. The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson

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