One score and maybe two years ago, in a barren land far, far away from the hills of Kentucky, in a home that is now occupied by a Skeksi named Derek, his Gelfling wife Lindsey, and their Podling children, there lived a half-Lamanite couple called the Larkins. In later years they would have three children join their family. But at that time they didn't have any. So, to fill the time until their kids would join them, the wife, Laura, took a liking to keeping a little girl who lived two streets away named Brooke. Brooke loved being with Laura. Her days at Laura's were spent singing and twirling and coloring and eating Nilla Wafers with frosting. One of Brooke's favorite things about being at Laura's was being able to play Laura's electric organ. Brooke would smash and squash those keys as fiercely as her 4 year-old hands could pound keys. As she played she could just feel herself becoming the next Phantom of the Opera. These were glorious times. One day tragedy struck: In the midst of one of Brooke's powerful, moving organ sessions, her arms flying, and notes ringing out in poetic chaos, she was overcome with the passion she felt for the music and lost her balance atop the bench on which she stood. As she fell to the stone floor beneath her, the bench itself toppled, shoving the wheels at the bottom of the bench's legs directly in line with the trajectory of little Brookie's big toe. The two collided. The unfortunate angle at which the wheel hit Brooke's toe somehow managed to slice into her, removing her toenail entirely from her body. The girl hit the ground and the nail bounced and ricocheted along the tile until it slowed to a stop and rested amidst a puddle of blood. Naturally, Brooke began singing out cries of agony. Laura, puzzled by the shift of sounds came running to the girl's aid. Through time, young Brooke recovered. The nail grew back, but never again in the same way it had before.
Twenty-three years later, Brooke recorded the following story:
At the beginning of this week, my toe began started giving me trouble. It was sore. Within a few days if anything touched it, it pulsed with pain. I figured this must be the dreaded "ingrown toenail" I had heard so much about from people like Joel and Dad but had never experienced for myself. I racked my brain to think of what it was I was supposed to do to take care of it. I realized that I had no idea. I would just laugh at Joel or Dad's pain and then go back to watching Rugrats or Doug or whatever it was that Nickelodeon was playing at the time. So, I called Adam. I figured that since he's lived all over the world with the army that he'd know all about them and what to do to get rid of them. I called him up and asked how to tell if I had an ingrown toenail and we decided that I did in fact have an ingrown toenail. I asked how to get rid of it. He said to come over the next day and he'd get rid of it for me. Sounded good to me. So, the next night I hobbled into his house wearing a pair of slippers because anything else was too painful for me to wear on my foot. I don't know what I was expecting. I thought it would hurt, but I didn't realize HOW MUCH it would hurt. I mean, when he sat down all he had in his hands was a pair of fingernail clippers so it couldn't be that bad, right?
Wrong. He started in with the clippers and I started grabbing onto the couch to hold myself still once I realized how badly it was going to hurt. Then he pulled out his pocket knife. That's when I started freaking out. He told me to calm down and told me whatever I did not to move my foot or he or I would get cut. I was like, "Isn't that what you intend to do with that knife: cut me?" Maelyn offered to sit on my leg to keep me from moving it. I thought of Joseph Smith and promised that I could hold my foot still as long as they'd let me watch the whole thing so that nothing would catch me off guard. Sister Ford sat next to me and offered her hand as a squeeze toy and believe me, I squoze that hand purple. They gave me something to bite on, but that didn't stop my yelling and trying to bargain with him to stop and my accidental outbursts of humming the Star Spangled Banner to try and keep me from yelling non-missionary words. The poor dogs. You know how they have 6 of them? Well, three of them were terrified and three of them were smothering me trying to lick me and make sure I was ok. My cat, Delilah even came over and tried to calm me down. It was not a pretty sight, I'm sure. Maelyn's dad is always home but stays in the back bedroom and they bring him all of his food and he never leaves the place. Even he came out to see what was going on. Of course we were all laughing the whole time (it was the only thing I could do to keep myself from crying). But then Adam told me that if I needed to cry I could because this was the worst ingrown toenail he's ever seen. How? How did I get such a bad toe? The only thing I can think of is how when I was little the entire thing was ripped off and I couldn't walk forever. The nail has never grown in a straight line since. Anyways, Adam got to the point where he asked Maeyln where the razor blade was so I begged him to stop. Just for a second so that I could psych myself up so that I wouldn't freak out and kick and either lose my toe or make him lose his finger. I have no idea how long we were sitting there with me singing/screaming and the dogs howling and Maeyln and Adam yelling at each other at how to do it and Sister Ford silently allowing me to squeeze her hand in two. It seemed like a half hour. But Sister Ford just told me it was really only about 15 minutes. Phew. It was crazy. The only other time I've been in more pain that's intense pain like that in such a concentrated amount of time was when I lived in China and kept having to go back to the dentist to get those medicine-less route canals. Yikes. It was only AFTERwards that I found out that most people go to the doctor and get all numbed up and make a procedure out of getting those things removed. I can see why. When I asked Adam and Maelyn about it they said, "Yeah, some people go to the doctor to get them removed, but out in the country we use a razor blade. It works the same way and it's not near as expensive." Gosh. So, I had my own hillbilly operation this week, thanks to Dr. Lay and Nurse Collins. Maelyn's dad said he was most impressed with my ability not to curse. So, maybe this will open doors for him to actually start learning more about the crazy Mormons that are always at his house that he's never cared enough to talk to. By the way, my foot is feeling loads better.
We had a good week with Adam and Maelyn, despite my operation. Adam still has some fundamental questions about the priesthood and Joseph Smith though so we're trying to resolve those by reading the Book of Mormon with him. Maelyn seems to be doing a lot better lately. She finally had a moment where she felt like she recognized the Spirit talking to her! She was so excited! And now she's more determined to feel it again. They came to church yesterday which always makes things better. Sister Ford spoke in Sacrament Meeting and I gave the Sunday School lesson so it was nice not to have to worry about people offending them over the pulpit like happens a lot out here.
We added a new investigator this week who is the mother of three and whose husband was just this week deployed to Afghanistan. She seems like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. Hopefully she'll let us back in like she said she would. I know she'll find peace through Christ.
The Corbin Sisters came up this week for a blitz and we had a great time. When they came they had two presents for me: a jar of peaches from Sherry and a t-shirt from Otis. They're the only two people who know I'm in Berea and I think it's hilarious and sweet of them to both want to send me gifts now that they know I'm so close. The shirt Otis sent me is so adorable because he sent a note with it about how he's been looking and looking for this ever since he met me and just barely found one. He knows I like UK and UK's colors are blue and black. But he also knows that my favorite color is red. Red is the color of UK's rival. He's been trying in vain to find me a red UK shirt ever since. I guess he finally found on the other day and bought it and couldn't wait to send it to me. It's red tie-dye. I love it. And him.
There's a young couple I think I've told you all about here named Michael and Jan and they have a little baby named Skylar. We're working with them on getting married and after we told them about eternal marriage they decide dthey wanted to get married now so that one day they could all go to the temple. So we've been trying to help them start making plans for their wedding. Jan told us that she wants a John Deere wedding dress... we suggested maybe a John Deere sash to go with her wedding dress. She didn't know what a sash was so we explained it to her and she decided she wants a John Deere sash that says, "Jan and Michael" in tractors AND she wants a John Deere wedding dress. She also insists that she's wearing camo boots under her dress and they're getting married on horses... So if any of you see any John Deere sashes/dresses, let me know.. haha.
I think Berea is the first area I've been in where visiting less-actives is actually productive. Sister Ford and I have visited about 10 less actives in the last two weeks and about 7 or 8 have actually come to church because of it! It's a miracle! I don't know what's different out here that wasn't in Corbin or Salem, but something's working. And we're getting referrals out of them, too. Hallelujah!
I haven't done quotes of the week in a couple weeks because I've been too depressed, so I figured I'd make up this week with a bunch that have happened this week. I'll just go ahead and explain them now, as well. No extra blessings this week, but that's to be expected. No one wants to waste a stamp on the poor lonely girl who they'll see in a week or two... haha. Don't feel bad, I'm just joking. I've slowed my letter writing down, too, because I'll be able to call/see you all soon enough.
Sister Ward who is very timid and serving in Corbin was telling us about her personal scripture study and said, "I've decided I want to be bold like Moroni" and then she added once the realized the rest of Moroni's story, "But not to the point where I threaten their life!" Haha. Like we assumed she'd ever threaten anyone's life.
Sister Ford went and started her study early the other morning and I didn't understand why so she explained, "I wanted to motivate myself to exercise to I ate a brownie. It didn't work."
The blind guy, Shirdy, had us and Adam and Maelyn over the other night and he asked Adam, "You ever been in a room when a baby was born?" Adam said "no". Then Shirdy paused and thought for a second and said, "Then where was you when you was born?" Haha.
Sister Ford is too funny sometimes and it makes me laugh real hard and then I start coughing and wheezing because I'm an asthma child. The other day she was making me laugh so hard that she finally said, "I'll stop being funny so you don't die."
There's a lady we teach who takes care of her father-in-law all day and whenever we leave their house he says, "Make sure you take him with ya in the back seat! Jesus, that is." Don't worry, we do. Though it has sparked a new question in me: does Jesus need to wear a seatbelt? He's God so he can't get hurt, but he probably obeys traffic laws, so I'm not sure.
When Sister Ward and I were on our splits this week we were led to two or three houses of people who didn't accept our message, but who I could tell were very spiritual people. They all seemed to be genuinely happy that we were out doing what we're doing and commented on how much they respect Mitt Romney. I know that it must have been hard on several of you when Romney lost the election this week. But I've seen first hand the great publicity he gave to the church. Eventually we were led to a man who opened the door and talked to us about Mitt and said that he was sad he had lost and then took a Book of Mormon and said that he and his wife and two children are looking for a church right now and that he wants us to come back. I hope you all don't feel like you failed or anything. I know I've been silent about the election because I'm such a Scrooge when it comes to politics. but I want you to know that I am grateful for Mitt because of the doors has literally opened for me as a missionary because of his stellar example of how much of a role Christ plays in the LDS members' lives. He did much more good than you all can see right now. But I promise you that this wasn't really a loss in regards to missionary work which in my own objective opinion is the greatest cause we can be a part of in this mortal probation.
I love you all. I know that Christ died and now lives for all of us! Hope is a commandment! The Church is TRUE! Share it!
Take Him with ya in the back seat!