Friday, December 20, 2013

The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer is Singing Loud For All To Hear (ALSO: Address Update!)

231 Oakview Dr.
Double Oak, Texas
Oh boy.

So, transfers are fun. My new companion is Sister Heap. She and I came out together! She's from San Diego, so we reminisce and stuff. But the all-time best thing we do here in Lantana is CAROLING. Oh my gosh!! Heap and I carol as a companionship and sometimes we drag families out to make them introduce us to their friends! I haven't sung this much consistently since "Hello Dolly". So I really hope I sound good.

I always knew music was an important feature and prominently displayed tool in our religion's culture... but it's fascinating to watch it work as a missionary tool! Doors that would usually shut are wide open! We get to see so many people! And it's awesome to watch them warm up and feel the spirit. It's like having the heater slowly turn on. All of a sudden, the lights come on. It's a wonderful life....

Lantana's just about to bust wide open. Our investigators are solid, although they prefer an inch by inch form of progression. Which... is fine. if they're deciding to be baptized, then I'd rather they be solid and convicted. Sister Heap and I just have a lot of conversations that go like this:


With this new area, I'm really excited. I wish I had more to say, but our lessons like to punch. I will say this. My new favorite person in the area is Dakota. He's 7 years old and has ADHD as bad as I did when I was 7. So teaching him is literally my favorite thing ever because I understand everything going on in his brain and everyone else doesn't. Also, he understands things the way I do. I just really want to take him home with me.

Oh! And guess what? 2 things: there are folks in my ward that know Clark and Joanne!! They're super close friends with them, they're the Tim family. They're super sweet! And Sister Heap and I taught seminary today. Dude, I have NO idea how I got up at 5 every morning.

Love y'all! Have a sweet week!
Sister Gunson

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sister Hannah Lantana (AKA Transfer Time!)


Well... the day I have most feared and dreaded has arrived... I'm being transferred from my beloved Justin to serve in Lantana. It's right by Lewisville, according to my ZL. I'm excited, because now I get a fresh start... but it's so hard to see the people I love SO MUCH stay here while I have to go elsewhere. it's okay. That's what mission tours are for.

This week was been the weirdest week of my mission, probably my life. I was able to go get my eyes checked out after having weeks of eyeball-pain... turns out I need glasses. By the time we got out of the office... freezing rain had started in. We started to drive cautiously home and then our ZL's called and said "get in the apartment now please." We headed back to our apartment and tried to be proactive.

Now, where we live, we live outside of our area on essentially an island. We are surrounded by dangerous freeways and highways that cannot be walked, 10 miles outside of our area. We were given permission to walk... however.... Given the circumstances, there isn't much we can do.

Did you know that there's a limit to how many times you call your potentials and Less-Actives? Well we didn't. We bugged everybody in the area book at least 7 times. We walked around our apartment and tried to hand out pass along cards. We called our Less Actives again. We taught people over the phone! We ran out of things to do to stay proactive within the first day.

Yes, first day.

Because there was so much ice on the roads (yeah, not snow, ICE) we were on lockdown for 3 and a half days. No church on Sunday; members were dropping off dinners like St. Bernards because we couldn't even get members to drive us. So... we went a little stir crazy.

This week was weird, man. Really weird. Napper and I had a lot of bonding time, though. Surprisingly, we didn't kill each other.

Have a good week!
Sister Hannah Lantana

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gobble Gobble

So far Hannah is still at the same address:
8299 Small Block Road #622
Northlake, Texas 76262-3332
Hey y'all!

One of the coolest ways to feel the spirit is when you have ADHD. All of a sudden... you're focused in on what's going on AND you understand every word of it. I freaking love teaching our investigators because basically all of them are under the age of 20 with severe to moderate ADHD. We all get along so well...

Peyton and Tori are back on the map!! They now teach us the lessons... which is really funny. They started teaching Plan of Salvation and they started with death. They forgot the pre-existence or our mortal existence... they said "Okay, so, it all starts with death..." Well... we know what we need to work on now.

We're still waiting on Cailee to get permission... Due to all the headachey legal complexities, I don't think I'll ever be a lawyer. Sorry Gunson clan, I can't carry on the tradition of criminal judiciary. SO MUCH HEADACHE.

Sean-- and his brother Ben-- were treated to probably one of the best lessons ever. Sister Napper and I were on fire. It was at the end of the day, we were tired, but we sat down and let them teach themselves through questions and allegories. If you didn't know.. that's the best way to teach. They're scheduled for baptism on the 19th!! And they're really funny to watch. Sean reminds me of people back home, so it's fun for me to teach my friends. Kind of. Does that make sense?

My boots got a hole in them. A pretty wide hole. But.... That's okay because that's what duct tape is for. (pictures attached.)

I went on an exchange with the Spanish sisters over sunday and got to go to church in Spanish... That was really cool, man. Pretty dang sweet. I love Spanish cultures.

Hope y'all had a happy thanksgiving! I sure did! We picked the right house to have turkey with...., a most excellent meal was had and I am fat and happy.

Have a great week!
Love, Sister Gunson


Monday, November 25, 2013


Okay, so this story totally deserves to be told.

Like I said, we went tracting. And as we knocked on this door, we saw this dog, shivering on top of the stinkiest, oldest comforter ever. Sister Napper knocked furiously on the door while I tried to bundle this dog up. The poor thing was shaking and it's eyes just said "You're really sweet, but I'm going soon anyways." Napper and I definitely cried. We said a prayer... and then we called Animal Protection services. As we were coming back around, we made sure it was still bundled up. Napper and I were ridiculously torn up about it the rest of the day. Magnificently, it was also the day we found a new family to teach.

The importance of this story, however, is that later that night when I was praying... My heart was broken over this dog and we had just gotten out of a very heart-warming/breaking lesson with an older LA widow. I'm a slobbery mess and it just got worse when I realized that every soul we seek out shivers just like that dog. Holy moly, I felt so bad when I realized that.

It was a very emotional day.

Love, the bleeding heart animal protector Sister Gunson
UPDATE FROM LACEY: The dog is still alive! Hannah sent me a photo:

And since we're talking about animals, here is another animal photo.
"Yes, that is a member's cat. We put baby clothes on her. Her name is literally Fat Cat. Fat Cat lost weight. Actually."


Happy Thanksgivin' Y'all!!

This week, I got to study leprosy. How often do you get to say that...?  It's really nasty and awful.... I'll come back to that in a minute.

The first of this week felt like weird. There's just no other way to explain it. I felt homeless. Nowhere felt like home, not even Santa Barbara when I pictured it. I felt like a ghost, wandering around Justin, shouting pleas into a vacuum. I talked to Sister Napper about it and all she had to say in consolation was "I feel like that too. Have this whole week." We both sat there and looked at each other and tried and tried to figure this out. We thought "Maybe we're getting transferred?" and "Maybe the world is ending?" But eventually, we figured it out.

The Devil is the single biggest hater in this world and world to come. Like... DOOD.

We figured out that Satan knows the epic miracles and awesome work we have here to do in Justin. He tried to stop it by (trying to) drive wedges between me and my comp. That didn't work-- we're too awesome for that. So now he's trying to separate us from the ward and the area. We were having none of that. So instead of perpetuating our weirdy feelings.... we went tracting. Naturally, the night we decide to tract all day, it's a whopping 31 degrees. AND remember when I said you can't measure heat by thermometer in Texas? Gotta go by Heat Index? Yeah, well, same goes for the cold. Gotta measure wind chill. Dang you, humidity, you fun-sucker. But you know what, in spite of all that, we found an entire family to teach. BOOYAH

So, back to leprosy.... Bishop asked me to give a talk on Sunday about giving the Savior my thanks through my mission service. Pretty sure I could have taken the entire sacrament meeting on that. But I talked about the 10 lepers Christ healed and the one that turned back around and gave thanks. That's when I decided to pull out Jesus the Christ and read up on leprosy.

Dude, it's death incarnate. But more important than how gross leprosy is is the quote that went along with it: "What happens here in figure must happen in the reality to our souls because of the death of sin." However disgusting the body is when leprosy is eating away at it... that's what's happening to the soul when you decide to place yourself outside of the circle of light that is the gospel. Fortunately, we are all able to be cleansed from such abysmal spiritual maladies. Having experienced that phenomenal joy of being released from that agony... giving my 18 months is like a piece of cake. It's so small, yet so uniquely mine to give. This Thanksgiving, I love being away from friends, family, school, work, everything that the holiday is "supposed to be" about because I'm discovering what it's really centered on and what we're thankful for. It's not to celebrate the inevitable annihilation of an indigenous culture with gluttony... but to praise God-- from whom all blessings flow.

I miss you all... but I kind of don't. ;)

Gobble gobble!
Sister Gunson

PS: We saved a dog this week. We were rewarded by not getting tagged by fleas. God is good.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

No Limits, No Coincidences, No Fear

Ollo!  *Explanation from Janet:  That's how Mega Mind answers the phone.

Have you ever asked yourself "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" I think I asked myself that once and it probably had something to do with theatre. But asking it in a missionary setting...? It changed everything.

We had a Zone Conference this week. Basically, the cultural hall of the Denton stake centre was transfigured all day. It was a great day all around, starting with some epic news!! Somebody I taught in Hurst got baptized on Saturday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sam Cripe, probably one of my favorite investigators, FINALLY got baptized. MAN. We were waiting forever. Apart from that, Zone Conference taught me to "remove the glass walls." Sometimes we set limits for ourselves that aren't actually there. I've decided that since with God, nothing is impossible, then what's stopping me?

Breaking limits happened all over this week. Cailee's mom is a couple steps closer to giving permission and after an entire transfer and a half of trying to get inside a less active member's house-- when members have told us that we can't get in.... they let us in. And fed us dinner. There's a good reason though why they haven't let people in though... We might've picked up some fleas. So when we went to dinner that night (yeah, we double-booked... Sisters can do that too...) we ate on her porch. Totally gained her trust though, once we explained the situation.

We also had Stake Conference this week! And it set everybody on FIRE. We'd been praying for some help with the work from the members. Thank you Stake Conference for being the cattle prod we could not be. Holy Moly it was awesome.

We had lunch with a recent convert on Sunday who bore such powerful testimony that I started tearing up. Honestly, he reminds me of you, Daddoo. He even has a goatee. He was given the Melchizidek priesthood on Sunday and... it's really cool to see how far people can come. He said "there were just too many coincidences, too many miracles for this to not be true, for there to not be a God." When once upon a time he was the epitome of a trucker. He still drives Peterbuilts, but now he has the priesthood. Brother... there are no coincidences. Not in this line of work.

My reasoning for this week then is if there are no limits and no coincidences.... there should be no fear. No crazy random happentsances to make you think twice, no actual wall to run into, you shouldn't be afraid to talk to anyone and everyone. Try it sometime-- the proof is in the puddin'.

Love y'all! Have agreat week!
Sister Gunson

Happy news!!

Hey y'all!

TRINITY GOT BAPTIZED. TRINITY. GOT. BAPTIZED. OHHHHHHHHHHHH my gosh. Finally. She's been waiting for a really long time!!!!!!!! When she went in for her interview, Elder Beckstrand (our new District Leader) said that she was excited and bubbly the entire time. During her baptism, she split her face in half, smiling so hard! Everyone was so supportive.... we were driving around in her neighborhood yesterday and we saw her totally having a party by herself. Just enjoying some sunshine, jumping, dancing around on her driveway... She was confirmed and received an astonishingly beautiful blessing. I'm so thankful for the ward and all they've done to help her progress.

I haven't been too clear about her, so I've decided that I'm going to start over from the beginning and re-tell this sucker.

At the beginning of last transfer, Sister Napper and I had the really strong impression that we needed to concentrate all efforts on our LA/PM (less active members/ part-member families) group. As we worked to strengthen the ward, we saw the benefits: LA's came back, we found good friends, and we found lots of new people to teach. One day, we were out "hunting" and we knocked on the her family's door. Trinity's gramma opened the door and said "OH thank goodness! I was just about to call you guys! This one wants to get baptized!" she pulled Trinity out of the doorway and introduced her to us. Trinity said "I went to primary a lot before and I really want to get baptized." From Day 1 of teaching her, she soaked everything up, like a sponge. She believed it was true, probably before we said it. She openly shared her testimony and feelings with us, describing what it felt like when she prayed and how she felt the spirit. When we asked her to read her scriptures, she decided to start at the beginning. Of her quad. Which is the bible.... she made it 11 pages in in 2 days! She understood more than anyone what this gospel could give her.

This is exactly what Christ meant when he said "Of such is the kingdom of God." If all of us were to be like Trinity... The world would be so happy. So peaceful. She accepted it, knew it was true, because she was so humble enough to receive the truth. She's an astonishing example to her family. She's an astonishing example to me. I want to be Trinity when I grow up. I wish I came home dancing and jumping from church.

This all being said, I'd like to ask if everyone could pray for Cailee and the Bishop of our ward. It's going to be an intense week, and everybody could use some prayers. I know God listens, hears and respects every prayer.

Well, I honestly can't remember what else happened this week. Trinity kind of takes the prize for best thing to ever happen EVER. OH! We found a stray husky yesterday and tried to take him back to his owner but he didn't have a collar. I didn't know how fast/long/hard I could run until I found myself sprinting after this dog.... And I had legit Thai food yesterday. Yeah, that's what happened this week.

Y'all have a good week!!
Love, Sister Gunson

Monday, November 4, 2013

If You Build It, They Will Come.

Hey y'all!

A little while ago, my companion and I were talking to the bishop of our ward. We wanted some guidance and counsel before we continued forward in our work. We decided that the best plan of action was to strengthen the ward. Our bishop said: :"If you build it, they will come." We have been building it, and the party just showed up this week.

Among the many many MANY miracles seen this week, my favorite one has to be Sean Taft. He just moved in with a aprt member family and is probably the most sincere investigator I've seen in a really long time. He has questions like "I'm scared of death because I think I'm going to Hell" and "repentance doesn't work for me." So maybe those aren't questions so much as they are statements that lead to teaching.... But we had a really powerful experience with him yesterday as we invited him to be baptized and take the lessons. He agreed to both and we're starting in on his conversion process! I know he's going to be real with all of this because his drive comes from the realization that hope might be around the corner. He reminds me a lot of someone back home. He's so teachable.... I'm so thankful I get to be a part of this!!

It has been a struggle to live these past couple weeks though. I don't understand God's plan. I don't think I really will. For a while, I was scared to wake up because I dreaded the next morning. But Paul has some good advice: Romans 5:3-4 says: Not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope." I wish Heavenly Father didn't trust me so much sometimes. And one day, I will have joy in suffering. I know, it sounds SUPER weird, and I kind of can't believe I'm saying that, so, I'm just gonna quote one of the greatest wizards of all time, Ronald Weasely: "You're gonna suffer.... but you'll be happy about it."


Here's to another week!
Love, Sister Gunson

What happened this week?

Editor's note:  When Hannah uses the word "transfer" it appears she is referring to the entire 6 week period between transfers.  She is going on a second 6 week period with the same companion and is still in Justin.  In another brief email to me she wrote in answer to my query about her location, "STILL IN THE BEST PLACE ON EARTH! Seriously. I cannot WAIT to take you and Dad here!!!! I see things and places and I'm like "my family needs to see this." It's..... almost better than Disneyland. Maybe better.... probably better." Isn't it amazing that no matter how hard a mission is, a good missionary would still rather be there than anywhere else in the world.   And Hannah could really use your prayers right now, btw.
I sat down to write this and I thought that. Hm. I guess everything goes by in a big blur. I'm so anxious to write everything down in my journal because I know I'm gonna forget it. I've finished my second journal, my 3rd transfer, and my 6 month... Starting in on the third journal, 4th transfer and 7 month and I don't know what number email this is. So....

First of all, we've had to move Cailee and Trinity's baptism dates. Just to the next week, but it was a bummer to cancel their interview and have our DL go "WAIT WHY?!" Well, that's what happens when people's agency interfere with other people's agency.

I've talked before (MANY a time) about how much Agency, as awesome as it is, gives me a rash. I love to choose! I love choosing to serve a mission, choosing to leave my family for a bit to serve the Lord. I love choosing the right! But I DO NOT like it when other people's choices make it so someone else can't choose. Trinity is on the straight-track to the waters of baptism. I don't know of anything that could possibly move her. Cailee is much the same way! She's so solid, the epitome poster-child of what missionary's call "the elect." And yet her mom has denied her permission to get baptized. She sees Cailee's personal improvement as being distant or whatever, the blood rushing to my head in anger impaired my hearing.
NOT A FAN, Adversary. NOT. A. FAN.

On the upside, we had interviews this week. I had been struggling a lot with my ADHD the latter-end of this transfer. Especially during prayers and studies. I hate the fuzzy brain! It separates me from God and spiritual development!! So I talked to president about it and he gave me some very good advice. He helped me see the line between killing the natural man and myself and how to overcome my obstacles.

I'm really not sure what else happened this week. The campers are setting up (already) for race weekend. Oh yeah, forgot to mention, I'm right by the Texas Motor Speedway and Nascar is coming to town. Napper and I are rooting for Matt Kenseth. Sort of. We don't really know who he is, we just saw his name on the giant electric marquee. But he's number 20 this year, so we're excited!!! He's one of the best!... Apparently? Anybody want to do some research?

Love, Sister Gunson

Monday, October 21, 2013

I'll Find A Way

Hannah's address is still:
8299 Small Block Road #622
Northlake, Texas  76262-3332
This transfer's theme was "hot mess" for good reasons. And so, in comparison with other weeks, we had a really nice break. Quite pleasant, one might say.

First of all. Cold front. Coming in nicely. We wear tights almost every day and I have a good reason to wear my scarves. Me likey. We freeze, but I still look fantastic because I'm not dripping in sweat and gross-nast. It feels like CA.

Second of all! I met my 3rd GA! [a "GA" is General Authority, meaning one of the global church leaders as opposed to the local ones]  Elder Rafael Pino of the 70 came into town! It was so cool, he and his wife didn't speak English and so they had translators. It's awesome to have that kind of experience where it doesn't matter what language is spoken, the spirit is the same. I know all my foreign missionary friends are like "psh, n00b" but really! I thoroughly enjoy that experience without having to learn another language myself.

I ended up taking 4 pages of notes with Elder Pino. Everything he said was just GOLDEN! But what I remember most was the love that was felt. You can always tell when someone is truly Christ-Like because they will be the happiest person ever. They'll laugh, be sweet, be funny.... good company to have, really. Elder Pino struck me very hard about what love really means. Everybody thinks that love is something fruity, something hearts-and-flowery. Little do people realize that Love is pretty dang hardcore. When you love something (or someone) you find a way to do what is asked and you're happy doing it. You're happy to burn your ships and bridges to the homeland so that you can stay here and grind away. You're happy to see people who smell like smoke, have scary tattoos, and who manage to find a button-up shirt and make their way to church on Sunday. You're happy to go down scary country roads just to find that one Less-Active. Love takes you miles and miles farther than fascination or even obsession ever could. Look at the Savior's perfect example and tell me that's not hardcore.

I'm really impressed with Trinity and Kaylee. Speaking of miles, they've made lots of 'em in spiritual progression. I'm stunned silent everytime they talk! There are some Less-Active members of that family and it's SO COOL to see the spirit come upon them as they decide to get back into it. Kaylee's fiancé (Shawn) has gotten happier and lighter. He stands up to shake our hands now. He's worried when he comes home late that he might've missed us. Keanu (Trinity's other uncle), at 14, understands how Satan works. He understands WHEN Satan works. And his mustard seed of faith is growing into an impressive tree that I want to take shade in.

When faced with a difficult decision to obey a certain commandment, Kaylee straightway said "Well, I'll find a way." I wonder what would happen if every missionary ever had that mindset.... But tying it all in together, Love makes you find a way. It's so easy to say "mmyyyehhhhhhh well....... I don't want to" and so very difficult to say "well, I'll find a way." Heck, Christ found a way. Joseph Smith found a way. Sometimes that way is reeeeaaallly difficult. But if you really love it, how difficult is it?

I understand how my mom puts up with me now. Well... Kind of.

Have a great week! Love somebody!!!
Sister Gunson

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I Would Walk 500 Miles and I Would Walk 500 More

Hannah has a new address! Send her stuff, if you are so inclined. Letters are her favorite.
8299 Small Block Rd #622
Northlake, Texas
Begin transmission.
Hey Y'all!

So, before I get into this week, I'd like to tell some funny stories. One: I got hit on again. A truck literally pulled us over as we were walking and straight up asked if either me or Napper were single. Single to the glory of God, sir, thanks.

Second: Our favorite family in the ward had us over for dinner and as we were leaving, they took their 4 monstrous pugs on a walk. They were running everywhere and as the husband was trying to corral them, their flock of guinea hens started coming out to join the party and it was a site to behold.

Third: I ate alligator. We found a Cajun restaurant and had some 'gator po boys. So. Good.

Fourth: Dad, I had Babe's and it's nothing to scream about. Just big servings.

So, this week started out with a break-up from Peyton and Tori's mom. She said that they're moving "too fast" and that their dad wants them to wait. A while. All of this by text, no less. It was a harsh blow to see that, once again, Agency is at it's most pill-ish. Our ZL's (zone leaders) even called us and said "WHAT HAPPENED?!" But they left us with the reminder that God deals with this everyday and there are still prophets and miracles. We just have to wait..... I hate wait.

With that dark cloud looming over the week, for some reason, the energy-sucker came to town and left me and Napper void of much muscle-movement. We're eating right, we're sleeping during the allotted hours... what's the deal?! We try and push and power through... by the time we're done planning, we basically crawl to the shower, crawl to the bed... 5 seconds later the alarm clock rings and it continues.... ad nauseum. This leaves us thinking "WHAT GIVES?! We're doing the very best we can, why is this happening? Is this going to be... forEVER?!" We're very confused and I'm left thinking "Am I killing the natural man, or just myself?"

It was a really rough and really really weird week. IN addition to the missionary work, one night, as we were coming home, we saw 3 women, looking for these 2 teenagers. One of them was deaf and we had to communicate through a notebook. The deaf woman saw us and frantically scrawled "I'M A MORMON TOO" on the page. Immediately, we asked her for her bishop and her home-teacher's numbers. Her daughter had run away and, because we're not actually people, we couldn't run out with flashlights and search. We did the best we could, but eventually, her bishop told us to go home and that they would take care of it.

It just reminds me of what we're really out here to do. As missionaries, we have to find those who are hopelessly lost, those who are hopelessly low. Some of them don't even know it. PMG (Preach My Gospel) tells us to "find the elect" and that the elect will be those who will listen, yearn and thirst for the gospel we bring them. One might be so inclined to ask "why in the world would you do this to yourself? What could you possibly get out of this?"

At the end of the week, our littlest investigator, Trinity, brought a friend. Well, her uncle did. We gained a new, elect investigator!! Her name is Kaylee, and she wants to get baptized "really really bad!" At church on Sunday, about half a pew was full of Trinity's Less-Active family, among them her uncle and her uncle's fiancé (this is Kaylee). We asked the gramma (the responsible adult in charge) if we could teach her too. Kaylee jumped at the chance and said "YES! I want to, please teach me, can you come over tonight?" Later that night, as we were teaching both Trinity and Kaylee, the spirit settled so strongly. Shawn (Trinity's Uncle) and Keanu (Trinity's other uncle) were so involved and even supplied parts of the Restoration story that they remembered. They even testified of it's truth! Both Trinity and Kaylee easily identified the Spirit and knew exactly how it testified to them that this was true. By the time we asked Kaylee if she wanted to be baptized, she looked at us like "Why didn't you guys ask me before?!" She said "YES! Please, I want to really really bad! We've been talking about this all day!"

Despite a supreme lack of energy and emotional strength, I would walk over 1000 miles, knocking on door after door for these small moments. They're few and far between and they're worth more than all the bad days in the world.

But do your missionaries a favor and give them a bottle of water while they're walking, okay?

I love y'all! Be good!
Sister Gunson

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Awaaaaaaaaake Myyy Souul

The only thing I'm trunky for is Mumford and Sons, thanks for asking.

Well folks, General Conference, to a missionary, is better than Christmas. You get SOOOO much good loot, spiritually fed, and by the time you waddle out of the house, you're so happy, you don't mind waiting for a forever till it comes again. Texas was even cold this weekend so Sister Napper and I got to break out our boots and socks and cardigans. I never really stopped wearing scarves.....

Well, some good news before I launch into my General Conference findings, we have another new little investigator who, of her own desire, wanted to take the missionary discussions and get baptized!! She's 9 years old, her name is Trinity and she invited us to invite her to be baptized. Man, I love kids out here. They say stuff like "yes m'am" and "pleased to meet you."

Now. Conference.

If you couldn't tell, this theme was "Brace yourselves, storm's a-coming." But because the prophets and apostles are speaking (essentially, Christ) we didn't get talk after talk of "brace yourselves." It was really cool to me because my question to Heavenly Father was "Okay, what do I need to do in order to become who You want me to be?"

A mission breaks a missionary down and builds them back up again the way God wants them to be. Lately, the chink in the armor that the adversary has tried to exploit has been my worthiness, my strength, my ability to endure and my ability to grow stronger. I think a lot of people forget that the final step in repentance is forgiving yourself. I hadn't done that yet and was carrying a needless weight around. This particular conference not only witnessed to me my own abilities and potential, but it gave me all the things I need to do in order to get better, to gain "spiritual stamina" as Elder Maynes said.

The question throughout my mission--and as President Monson says, our entire lives-- is "Shall I falter or shall I finish?" My all-time favorite scripture has been and probably always will be 2 Nephi 4:17-29. That's why I love the Mumford and Sons song "Awake My Soul" so much. Not just the banjo frenzy, but because of Nephi's own personal lament and hope in lieu of.

Sometimes, I think Marcus Mumford must be a Mormon. So many good songs, so many gospel correlations.

So what did YOU learn from conference? (Hopefully to do more MEMBER MISSIONARY WORK)
Love, Sister Gunson
Editor's note for those not of the Mormon faith:
1."trunky" means to miss home (comes from packing your trunks)

2. General Conference happens twice a year.  It's an entire weekend--5 sessions, 2 hours each--when we get to listen to our leaders teach us.  We can go to our chapels and watch on a satellite feed or go in person to the conference center or listen/watch on the internet or cable channels at home.  It is simultaneously translated into I don't know how many languages (a lot).  It is always very inspired and inspiring.  It is on for those of us who like to listen multiple times, in case you would like to hear some of the talks.  The prophet spoke several times.  He can also be quite funny.

3.  The scripture to which Hannah refers is from a prophet named Nephi.  In this particular chapter he is lamenting his own personal weaknesses but then declares his faith and regains strength through Christ.  I personally have relied on the last 3 verses quoted below.  It has given me power when I thought I had none. As follows:

" 17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great agoodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

 18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

 19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

 20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.

 21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.

 22 He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.

 23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.

 24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.

 25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.

 26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

 27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?

 28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

 29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

 30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation."


Hi!  Sorry I wasn't able to send out Hannah's letter last Monday.  I was in Italy (I know, poor me...).
Hannah also sent me personal letter and is very, very grateful for all the letters she receives.  THANK YOU!!!!!  She even got a card from a friend in Lithuania! (Thanks, Simonas!)
Also, I would like to share this part of her letter to me because it really moved me:
"....I've discovered a love for HIM that propels me forward, to do the things I think are hard and painful.  It's not just swallowed up in Him--my wants just take a backseat and I joyously put them there.  I'm growing stronger and I can FEEL IT!!!!"
Love y'all,
Hey y'all!

Okay, so, um, cool story, PEYTON AND TORI ARE GETTING BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!! I've already started in on the Heavenly deal-making to make sure it's gonna go through. And because that's basically the big event that happened this week, I'm gonna talk about that today.

For the first time in my entire mission, Sister Napper and I went on a split. I took a member, she took a member, and we divided and conquered. She went to re-activate some less-actives, and I went to take on a 13 year old, a 12 year old, and Rocky's rival. When we get there, because I don't have another sister to balance teaching with, the member gravitated towards Zela and I began teaching L3, by myself. Let me repeat: I am, for the most part, alone in this lesson.

L3 is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's the easiest lesson in PMG other than the 10 commandments because it's my purpose: Faith, Repentence, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost, Endure to the End, amen. I taught through an analogy of growing plants, and at the very end, I asked if they wanted to be baptized. They both were enthusiastic!!

Their mom said "Okay, but you guys have to know exactly why you're choosing this church to get baptized in." Tori said "Well, I guess if I can't get baptized in their church, I'll get baptized in another." and Peyton said "That's not how it works. They don't do it right. I'm getting baptized into this church!" and she pointed at my nametag. So I said "Okay guys, how about we set a goal to be baptized on this date, okay? And then you have to read your scriptures and come to church, we'll come twice a week and teach you everything-- that sound like a deal?" Peyton turned to her mom and said (rather forcefully) "Kay, Mom, we're going to church on Sunday."

Now, their mom is an epic woman-- and a less-active who's a little firm in her in-activity. So she's been supportive, but also testing the girls to see if this is actually something they'll do. So she challenged Peyton and said "Why? Why is this church different from others?" Peyton quickly said "I actually feel loved here. I'm happier, the people worship God differently, they mean it. It's better than the other church."

I have never seen more fierce resolve in anybody I've ever taught. I don't think anybody's ever had to fight for it as hard as she has. I am so proud to be her spiritual sister. Every time we dish out a commitment, she says "done." She's on FIYAHHH!!!

I'd really like to be that kind of person... To just say "done" whenever God asks me to do something.  I've come to really learn and love my covenants and the ability we have to make those 2-way promises. God never said the way was easy, but the yoke is light. So that's the way we gotta go.

Dude this is so hard but it's so good.
Love, Sister Gunson

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Salvation and Soccer

Sup yo!

Jeffrey R. Holland said that missions are not easy because salvation isn't easy. Both truly are wine presses-- which I tend to interpret as things that pressure us into whining. I tried not to complain about this week, instead I took a deep breath and just did it. And you know what happened? I enjoyed some grape juice from the wine press.

First of all: on Friday, the clouds split open and dumped water all over Justin. The creeks rose and flooded, I wasn't dry the entire day, and it was AWESOME. It was awesome because after it rained and rained and rained and rained.... a Texas cold front came on. Since Friday, it hasn't been humid-- AND it's been in a 74-82 degree range. Guys, it feels like Santa Barbara. My new companion, Sister Napper, is also from California. Saturday was a great day for us. I had a Cherry Coke Zero and a cloudless blue sky and lots of work to do. It was the best day I've had in a long while.

Second: I cannot even BEGIN to thank all of you who took the time effort and money to send me a card!! I really appreciate all the sentiment and encouragement and thoughtfulness. It's nice to know that even though I'm so far from y'all, I still merit enough importance for a sweet Birthday card. Shout out to the ones who gave me pictures of Santa Barbara: they've been pinned to my wall and they make me smile :)

Third: I'll probably be bringing Peyton and Tori home with me. We went over this week to watch the Restoration movie (the 20 minute one) and we re-invited them to be baptized. Even though they said yes, their mom still won't set a date, but I asked them why they wanted to be baptized. Tori said "Well... I want to go back to live with my Heavenly Father! I don't want to NOT live with Him! I want to live again." Peyton said "Yeah, I want that remission thing you were talking about last week. I want to start over."
Not only do they understand what we taught last week, but they REMEMBERED. It stuck with them and they believe us!! My favorite part was when we were walking out of the house back to the car, Sister Napper turned to me and said "Wow, those girls really love you."
I'm adopting them.

Fourth: I really really really REALLY like teaching kids. Not just Peyton and Tori, but we went over to a member's home on Sunday. I'm pretty close with these members, so I LOVE going to their house. More often than not, I end up playing with their 4 kids while my companion has adult conversations with the husband and wife. Well, one of the boys asked me if I would teach the Plan of Salvation through soccer-- so I did. They were SO into the lesson, and you can bet they're gonna remember it! I taught them some volleyball drills once and when we came over again, they wanted to show me their "moves."

Hard week, but good times.

Have a great week! And thank you all again!!! :)
Love, Sister Future Soccer Mom

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Quarter-Length Sister Mishie VS. the Dark & Deep Questions of a 13-year-old

Hey y'all *voice crack*

If there was ever a time when I frustrated one of you people with my endless, dark, deep concerns, I apologize and I want you to know that I feel your pain now.

But first, the other cool thing!

There was a time (9/11) when Neil L. Anderson of the 12 decided to come to Colleyville TX and give us a 2-and-a-half-hour training. So. Stinkin'. COOL. Not only was the ENTIRE FORT WORTH TEXAS mission there.... but the ENTIRE DALLAS TEXAS MISSION was there!!!!! I haven't seen this many missionaries in one room since the MTC and it was INCREDIBLE. Elder Anderson is clearly a jovial sort of fellow. We all got to shake his hand and as some Dallas elder was walking by, he said "I'm never washing this hand again."

Elder Anderson touched on a lot of things that concern most (all) missionaries. First, not getting discouraged and second, the Atonement. He told us that in order to be successful, we can't look at numbers, we can't look at our investigators, we have to look at ourselves. We cannot expect to go mile-by-mile, instead, we have to "pull ourselves up, inch by inch. It's like rock climbing."

He then talked about the Atonement. He said that "there will a come a time in your life when the Atonement will play a very deep role in your life and it will suddenly become very VERY real to you." Growing up in the church, I knew ALLLL about the Atonement. I knew the science of justice being appeased while mercy still reigned. And it was nice. It just wasn't real. I had experienced the miraculous power of change in my life, assuredly! But it hadn't walloped me in the back of the head yet.

Well, Elder Anderson's prophecy happened a lot sooner than I think he expected.

The next day, we went over to my favorite little investigator's for a lesson. I say little because they are 12 and 13. Peyton and Tori remind me why I want to have kids... and then why I shudder at the thought of me ever reproducing. They're very opinionated, almost as loud as me, and they have TONS AND TONS OF QUESTIONS. I love them dearly and I'll probably take them home with me.

We got there just as they were finishing dinner, so we sat and chatted with them while they hurriedly tidied. Peyton looked up quite suddenly and said "Did you guys hear about the 9th grader who died yesterday?" Chantry and I looked at each other and said "No.... what happened?" Peyton recounts the story of his suicide and then says "I'm so confused. I don't know why anybody would want to kill themselves... So.... Because he killed himself, is he going to hell?"

I've heard just about every single weird question that would make the most stalwart missionary balk. But nothing could possibly prepare me for the innocence of a teenager, asking questions about death and the afterlife. Immediately, Chantry and I switched our plans and went into the most in-depth lesson of the Plan of Salvation I have EVER taught. And probably ever will teach. Because at every turn, at every angle, they would catch us off guard by saying things like "I had a cousin that died in his mommy's tummy-- will I get to see him again?"

As we went home, I started thinking about my experiences with death. The eventuality of it, the Church's stance of peace and happiness not normally associated with the passing of a loved one... I used to think that I had a good grip on the afterlife... But nothing makes you feel Heavenly Father's love like telling a 13 year old that she's going to live again and that she has no need to fear anymore.

Makes me really love my family, quite frankly. Also makes me cry. Again.

Please send a box of tissues,
Sister Weepy (Gunson)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mission Log, Stardate 9/9/2013: Suck it up

Hey y'all!

This week started out with me down in my faith and a little surly and uncaring. I was pretty grumpy with last week's not-success and this week's bleak outlook. BUT THEN. Superhero-Slash-Companion-Sister    Chantry saved the day by telling me (politely) to "suck it up." And you know what happened? Faith grew, we worked harder, better, faster, stronger and my feet got SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO tired.

Now, at the beginning of the week, I was supremely frustrated with what felt to me to be a lack of heavenly communication. I was like "God, I'm here to do your work, do you want me to do it or not because I need to know where to go." It's easy for any missionary to be discouraged in such cases. Except I know better and so I turned to the scriptures. After much studying (and a forwarded email from one of my missionary cousins) I came to the re-conclusion that it is a slothful missionary who sits with the Ultimate Source Book closed and asks God to point out the directions. SO what did we do?

Tracted. In the not-so-sweet heart of a Texas summer.  (Tracting is knocking on doors.  Door after door after door.)

There's a Scandinavian folk tale (not sure if it's Swedish or Danish) that talks about this fire sprite that leads travelers on by promising them treasures and what not if they only follow them. These sprites are not benevolent, they lure them to their death of literally running ragged. That's why I'm glad the spirit of fire I follow is God's. Every promise He gives me cannot nor will it ever be hollow. I know that at some point, I will get everything God has promised me as I faithfully follow and do the best work that I can. Some days when we're out tracting, it feels fruitless and the sun beats down and it gets SO UNBELIEVABLY HOT. But I've noticed that my body keeps putting one foot in front of the other. I'm walking, I'm knocking, and I'm doing the work the very best I know how. How comforting to know that God is aware and mindful of everything I do. How comforting to know that the judge of my trial is omnipotent and loving. How comforting to know that I can sleep after I finish planning. The greatest comfort of all is the knowing part. I feel that, although my faith may not be as mighty as Alma's or Nephi's, my faith has become perfected in a few good things like the knowledge of God and my Savior, my purpose, His plan for me... you know. The things I teach about. Salvation and stuff.

And when you put the two things together (the trials with the end results) and you're whining because your feet hurt and it's hot and it's utterly hopeless, then there's nothing more to say then "SUCK IT UP."

Fake it till you make it, cuz once you make it, IT'S AWESOME SAUCE COOL BEANS :D

Enjoy your Santa Barbara weather! (ingrates)
Love, Sister Gunson

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Almost 20 yr. old vs. Drunk, Belligerent Husband; BONUS ROUND: Shady Tattooed Agnostic

Hey y'all!

Sorrynotsorry about not emailing yesterday, but I had important rugby-related things to do on my Pday! Also, it was Labor Day and the libraries were closed.

Just a warning, this email will probably (read: will) be a downer.

This week felt like I was in a boxing rink and I was getting pummeled on all sides. My proverbial face feels like applesauce and you don't want to know how my spirit feels. Towards the end of the week, I could barely keep my hands up to guard what's left of my face and it's safe to say there was a definitive K-O.

I don't know if I've mentioned how difficult my area is, but it's bad. Really bad. Haven't had a baptism in 5 months. Barely had investigators to boot. So we've hunted out of the holes in the rocks. We've tracted, hunted potentials, former investigators (heretofore known as "formers"), less active members (heretofore known as LAs) and part member families (heretofore known as PMs), you name it, we've done it. The only thing we haven't done yet it rent a billboard. And what do we get for our efforts?

We found this AWESOME former that a companionship just dumped because she was busy the time they went over. We knocked on her door, asked if she was still interested and she looked at us like we were stupid when she said "Uh... Yes please!" We're thinking "Awesome! Golden Investigator!" and she is! She's eager to learn, she wants the truth like a drowning sailor wants a life jacket. Her husband? Not so much. We went over for a return appointment later in the week and he husband didn't let us talk. He was drinking a huge can of beer and asking us the stupidest most frustrating questions. He kept saying "Well, how do you KNOW Jesus died for you, how do YOU know that YOU were called to serve a mission? How do you KNOWWWW..." and so forth. Normally, I'd love to answer these questions, they're the answers I know best. But because he wasn't asking them to learn, he instead took the spirit away and hurt his wife's spiritual progress. We tried to teach her and ignore him, but it's a little difficult to do that when he pulls out his phone and says "Here, lemme play y'all a song" and starts blasting some Satanic-y sounding hard rock. At this point, Sister Chantry and I were at the end of the rope. I said "SIr, we're teaching your wife. I'll listen to that song later. Please excuse us." He shrugged it off and went back to watching TV with his beer and scream-o.

Not to be "discouraged" from the effort, we went tracting on Saturday in-- you guessed it-- 108 weather. Chantry and I are thinking "God's gonna bless us with a new investigator, look at the sacrifices we're making!"


The very last door we knocked at seemed promising. But as we talked to this guy (Chantry and I nick-named him Shades because he wouldn't take off his sunglasses the whole time we were talking.... Untrustworthy salt of a fellow). Again. He wouldn't let us teach. He tried to tell us how to teach, and then he argued everything we tried to teach him. He started telling us how wrong we were to believe that we need to work for Salvation. He said "You guys are missing the point. We're all sinners, Christ saved us, so we're good!" and I'm like "You're missing the point, take your glasses and pride off, lemme teach you about the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and let's start with James 2.." But... I didn't say that. I'm wearing the nametag, I have to be congenial.

And it gets so flippin' HARD. We got back to the car, Chantry was trying to be funny and said "well, that went well!" and I burst into tears. I haven't sobbed this hard since the MTC. I was frustrated with myself, my area, the people I have been called to serve. I just sat there and bawled. Chantry almost slapped me. She was like "get it together, Gunson! You're a good missionary and this is what Satan wants, so let's go teach this person and have a good day!" That's what we tried to do.

Except Sunday night found us both in hysterics as we sobbed out our frustrations and emotions. I was on my knees, could barely breathe, thinking "OH MY GOSH THIS IS SO HARD." We get rejected every day, our numbers are low, we feel very alone sometimes and the only thing we have to comfort us are the scriptures.

When Monday came, I found myself burning off mass amounts of steam while playing sports with my elders and the Denton South zone. I came home just dripping in sweat, peeling my clothes off and laughing my head off. Sometimes you gotta live for Mondays. Because that's when you can let out all that stress with some good ol' runnin' around.

This week was super hard and we're gonna do another fight this week. We'll see how it goes, right?

Get through this week if it kills us!!
Love, Sister Gunson

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Cool Story, courtesy Mama Gunson.

Hi y'all! I got a short handwritten note from Hannah yesterday in which she relates the following and I just had to share:

I was having dinner w/ a family (the Mendoza's) and the dad was saying that there was an area president that gave 2 talks that impacted the rest of his life. His name? Robert E. Wells. I was like "Hey...that's my grampa..." He's like "YOU'RE KIDDING ME?!" So he thought that was cool. Heck, I think that's cool!!!

Dad, wherever I have travelled in Central and South America (and even here in Santa Barbara) I have met people who were grateful to you for changing their lives. I thank you for changing mine. Love you.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mission Log, Stardate 8/26/2013: Semi-Educated 19-year-old vs. 32-year-old Emotionless Objectivist

I've often remarked to Sister Chantry that what I miss the most about Hurst was the regular sighting of crazy people. My favorite story (from Hurst) has been Melvin Price, who, in the span of 2 weeks had emergency catheter surgery, buried his father, was evicted from his apartment for his enormous amount of "recreational" pot and called the cops on his friend-- who had just shot his girlfriend 5 times in the head in a drunken stupor. But Justin never ceases to surprise me... In the words of Melvin, 'Man, you would not believe me if I told you the things that have happened to me, but.... Ima tell choo guys anywayss."

You may have been wondering about the email title? Well. Sister Chantry and I decided to call former investigators. And we call this guy up and he's at first pretty excited... but then he says "I love discussions! I'll have to get my notes together!"

Apparently, this dude has studied Metaphysics and Episcopology and a bunch of other big words and sound agnostic and scary. Not only that, but he begins to ramble about how he believes in Ayn Rand's school of thought, known as "Objectivism." In case you haven't guessed, this guy is not exactly... about us. About God, rather. THEN he starts asking questions like "How do you reconcile your faith in God with your ability to reason logically?" and "Can you explain the logical paradoxes of having a both vengeful and loving God?" But before he asks me these questions, he says "Now, before I ask these questions, I'm going to assume that you're, what, 20? Maybe 21 years old. And you've probably had some schooling done... so as a Semi-Educated young woman..."

Semi-Educated? SEMI-EDUCATED?! The things I know about religion would BLOW YOUR MIND UP, SON.

 I didn't, however, say that.

Instead, this conversation happened:

I asked him to read the testimonies of the 3 and the 8 witnesses of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith's. He gives me this response:

"You know... I don't believe in subjective evidence. It didn't happen to me and I've read them before and it did nothing for me, so I'm not going to."

To which I said: "Sir? May I speak boldly with you?"

"You can speak as boldly as you want! If you offend me, I'll give you a hundred dollars!" he said.

"Paul, you got nothing from those testimonies and will continue to get nothing from anything we say because your heart is not open. Quite frankly, neither is your mind."

From his tone of voice, he basically said "Who do I make the check out to." But what he actually said was:

"Actually, I do have an open mind. But you're right, I don't have an open heart. Years of air-force and being in Iraq has hardened me like cement. I've seen what happens when emotion clouds judgement and when people make decisions on "faith" so, no, my heart is not open. I don't believe in emotion."

I bore testimony one more time and then told him that we were here to teach people of Christ. I'm not here to debate and discuss, I'm here to find, teach and yes, baptize. I am to testify of Christ and bring hope to the hopeless, life to the spiritually dead, and help people become eternally happy. If he is closed off to that message, then we will not be meeting with him.

I have no certificate or other piece of paper that gives me religious credit, but I do have a Ministerial Card that allows me to preach. I do have a letter signed by the president of this church and prophet of this world that declares me worthy and able to teach.

Joseph Smith was Semi-Educated. When you consider what that man has done for this world... makes you think twice about using the world's standard of measurement.

Semi-Educated? I think not.

Mosiah 2:41, brothers.
[And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.  For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.  O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.]

Love, Sister Gunson

PS: I went on a "Zebra Exchange" with an Hermana. My accent totally makes up for my lack of vocabulary, so THANKS MA.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mission Log, Stardate 8/19/2013: Somebody in Texas is praying for cool weather -- and they have faith to move mountains

Hey y'all!

A missionary will classify things differently. A good week will never be measured by accomplishments and fun will never be measured by how many times you felt happy or laughed. By missionary standards, this week was a good, fun week.

This week was good because we worked hard. It was fun because of a 20-year-old evangelist.

Sister Chantry and I have this thing where we don't really take no for an answer. We do a lot of tracting because of the low investigator count, and so with each door, we ask 3 things: can we share our beliefs, can we share a scripture and a prayer with you, do you know anybody on this street that has just moved in... Obviously, I'm generalizing, but that's the situation. Joseph Smith said to his brother that if they wouldn't let them talk, then they would write their testimony down and paste it all over their doors and windows. Obviously that's illegal in this day and age, but that is the kind of attitude the Justin sisters have adopted. You may not want to know about what we believe in, but you're gonna know that I believe.

My convictions about the doctrine that we preach were put to this test as we tried to teach, what I call, a "lazy Christian." They believe that they can't do anything for their own salvation, God's done it for them already. Now that just bugs me. Mostly because James 2:21, but also because it just doesn't make sense... If Christ gave His life for me... why in the world would I allow myself to be lulled into complacency and hide the devotion I have? I know I am an unprofitable servant, BUT Heavenly Father has given me the opportunity to glorify and serve Him. Knowing all that He has done for us -- and continues to do, I might add -- what makes you think sitting on your butt is what He wants you to do?

I just don't understand some people.

It's been fun, it's been good, it has been so real and it is flippin' AWESOME and the best thing I could ever do. Go team go!

Keep on keepin' on!!
Love Sister Gunson
Note from Mama Gunson:
I asked Hannah what "Justin sisters" are and she said that's the name of their area.

And in case you missed it, her new address is:
8299 Small Block Road #622
Roanoke, TX 76262

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mission Log, Stardate 8/13/2013: Duty Calls

Hey y'all!

Remember last Monday when I said I was going to Lewisville? Well. Have I got a story for you. Wednesday (transfer day), I made it safely and soundly to my new area, a tidy place called Flower Mound (we call it FloMo for funzies). Now, my last area, Hurst South (River Trails) was a complete ghetto. I killed 4 cockroaches that found their way into the apartment that smelled like cigarette smoke (which, by the way, drenched my clothes in that smell, so as I get into FloMo, my companion says "Sister, why do you smell like a casino?") and I was used to people being interested in talking to us only because they figured they could get some money from the "church ladies."

Flower Mound is the precise antithesis thereof.

Every neighborhood is like Montecito and Beverly Hills had a baby in Texas. The homes are huge, my apartment is nice (I have a gym and I don't have to kill cockroaches). I can't tell you the kind of shock I experienced after my first lesson teaching a wealthy woman.

Now here's where it gets twisted.

Friday (my second day in FloMo) I get a call from President Ames. Lemme tell ya, getting a call from the mission president is like driving by the cops. You may not be doing anything wrong, but you're still apprehensive, checking yourself, making sure you're perfect.  Undaunted, I answer the phone:

"Hello! This is Sister Gunson!"

"Hi SIster Gunson, this is President Ames."

"Hi President, what can we do for you?"

"Well, this is kind of an interesting call for me to make. Sister Gunson. this call is for you."

Not gonna lie, I thought he was going to tell me Enzo had died.

"Alright President, what do you need?"

"Sister Gunson... You're being transferred. To Denton."

"..... Transferred?"

"Yes. To Denton."

"... Denton, huh?.... Sounds great!"

Out of respect for the situation that called me out to Denton, I won't say much more than duty has called on me to be a slinky. This one year at Girls Camp, the YCL's had a cheer to remind us to be flexible. It  went: "BE. A SLINKY. BE-BE A SLINKY!" Just to remind us to bounce back from whatever adversity we're in the midst of in that moment.

They say you're not called to a specific area -- rather, you're called to be a missionary and you get put wherever you'd do more good than damage. There's an awful lot of peace knowing that the Lord's will is being done. As I've said before, all that's left for us to do is to decide whose side we're on.

I now serve in the Denton zone, Justin Ward area. It, too, is a drastic change from the neat and spacious homes of FloMo. It is pure country. To get to anywhere, we need to first cross fields upon fields of wild sunflowers and pastures. I saw a cow and excitedly moo'ed (because my mom does that and I decided to keep the memory) and it was quickly made apparent that if I moo'ed every time I saw a cow here in Denton, I wouldn't have time to teach. We technically live outside of our area, right next to the Texas Motor Speedway and every Friday, I'm going to go to sleep listening to the soothing sounds of "VROOOOOOOOOOM VROOM VROOOOOOOOOMMMMM." I teach in everything from trailer parks to rancher mansions and I never thought I'd say this but I am RIGHT AT HOME. For whatever reason, I'm in love with this wild country.

This goin' be fuuuuuuun.

Be good!
Love, Sister Gunson

PS: I'm in the same zone-ish thing as Elder Mann. *fist pump*
Hannah's new address is:
8299 Small Block Road #622
Roanoke, TX  76262

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mission Log, Stardate 8/5/2013: Girl, Look At That Testimony

Hello friends and family of Sister Gunson,

Her letter this week was a bit disjointed and came in spurts spanning several emails because she was in a rush to go play volleyball.  So I’ve cut and pasted and attempted to smooth it out some.  And I have to say, as a returned missionary myself, I am SO happy she is out having fun on her preparation day!  So I forgive her apparent contradictions and free use of slang and encourage you to do the same :)

Now, from Hannah:
Hey y’all!

Okay, so, I got boots today. And I was deciding between the red ones or some more conservative camel coloured ones. And I thought, “Which one would Mom agree with?" and I knew you would have agreed with the red ones. :)

 I don't have my address though..... Boo.

We’ve been working with Alvin since we got here. That was in May. That was at the very beginning of my training. Now, 12 weeks later, I watched him be baptized and confirmed, knowing full well that he was aware, ready, and excited to take this new step. He bore his testimony to our District Leader, Elder Weaver, and talked about how he felt like he was joining a new family. He's very lonely (he lives by himself) so you can imagine what it would mean to us to hear him say "I know I'll never be lonely with the Spirit."

I remember hearing Mom talk about one investigator she taught and how she saw his countenance literally change. Alvin is just like that. When we met him, he was skittish, didn't like church, didn't understand what we were saying, and there was a time when we thought we would have to stop meeting with him. But now, he's making my District Leader cry, affecting an entire ward with his spirit, and reminding me exactly what eternal life means to people who have never heard this message before. One of the things that'll stick with me till the day I die is the way he said "Celestial Kingdom... that's where we wanna go... And people will be able to learn in the Spirit World, right?" He looked like... a child. A child that, on the first day of school, looks up at his parent and asks "You'll be here to pick me up, right?"

We think that, perhaps, he's lost someone. Someone important to him that he can't wait to meet on the other side. Alvin is a darn good reason for me to be out here. I've never seen somebody smile as big as he did when he came out of the water. His face near split in half.

Well folks, the church is true. And there's nothin' y'all can do or say that'll make it not!

In companion studies this week, we've been talking about how physically working out is incredibly similar to spiritually working out. We like to think that we're personal spirit trainers for our investigators. Little do they realize, however, that we're in the process of training ourselves. Now.

So last week I mentioned that I thought I was a patient person.  I realized I’m not.  In fact, one of the most infuriating things I've had to deal with has been my lack of patience. I don't like waiting at stop signs or red lights, I hate long lines at Disneyland, and I get frustrated when I can't run a 3k in 10 minutes after only a week of training. Strengthening my faith and growing my testimony (and the ability to teach) is incredibly similar to working out in a gym in order to strengthen and grow my muscles.   And my trainer (God, for those of you who might have been wondering) put me through the workout of my life this week.

First, you need resistance. You need to literally tear your muscles so that they can build back up. Then you need consistency, cuz you can't do 10 pushups one day and call it good for the week. You need discipline to do the hard things, diligence to get through discouragement, and then you can see results.

So. Everything kind of went wrong this week. We had lessons turn into fiascoes; we had people ask us questions like "do Mormons eat babies?" and the weather is steadily getting hotter and more humid. I had an investigator start ranting and raving about how awesome Twilight was too. I thought I had good self control  back home when I didn't "accidentally" ram Priuses on the road with my big, red truck, but the fact that I kept my mouth shut during her tangent proves that God works mighty and unthinkable miracles.

The weirdest thing happened to me this week too. After 11 strong weeks of getting up, exercising, studying, planning, and then working from 11am - 9pm.... I got up on Thursday and was hit by a 13-foot wave of apathy. I didn't even know that could happen!! I was so confused and frustrated with myself and the things going on in my mind could only be described as a knock-down, drag-out steel cage death match between me and Satan. He wanted me to quit and I just couldn't.

It was also really hard because to finish my training, I had to check my progress on a little number chart. I went through it and felt like I sucked. I was like "this needs to be worked on...I'm not always doing this...I'm bad at this..." I looked at the chart and thought "man.... I suck." This was the same day that Monster Apathy hit me so I was... less than effective during our planning for the day. At lunch, feeling rather defeated, I sat down at my desk with this progress check and thought "Kay, well, if I suck, what then must I do?" So I went through the list and wrote down everything that needed to be improved upon. I've added this to my personal study every morning where I pick one and work on it every day. Monster Apathy has been held at bay, so I think it's working!

After a while of doing the same workouts, in order to get better, you gotta switch things up a bit. So I'm being transferred from Hurst South to a zone called Lewisville. I don't know my address yet, but as soon as I do, it'll be given and then I expect mass amounts of letters and care packages because I assume y'all love me. Or something.

I get your letters (from friends, family, home ward members) and I think about how great it would be to write novels of thank-you's and personal replies. But quite frankly, on my “day off” (which ends at 6pm) I'd rather be beating the elders into oblivion in sudden death matches of volleyball. I pray for you all by name at the end of the day and I send love and best wishes to you all. Please don't think I'd forgotten about you when I don't write you back. Y'all can see me in 15 months (who's counting?)

Be safe, love your neighbor, eat your vegetables, burn everything but Shakespeare.
Love, Sister Gunson

From Janet:  Can anyone explain that last part to me? Burn everything but Shakespeare?  Whaaaat?
Oh, and it took me a while because I’m slow on the uptake, but I finally figured out what her email title means.  It’s like what one friend would say to another at the gym about someone’s muscles...only, not... Anyway, I’m sure you all got it.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mission Log, Stardate 7/31/2013: The Sour Patch Kid

Hey y'all!

So, you know that commercial for Sour patch Kids (the candy, in case you didn't know) where it says "First they're sour.... then they're sweet." Yeah, agency is a lot like that.

I like to think I'm a patient person. Especially coming out into the field. The only person I've been frustrated with was me and my problems. Until a couple days ago. A couple days ago, we tried to teach a Spanish gentleman (who refused the Spanish Elders we brought) lesson 3. He didn't want to talk about faith, repentance, baptism by immersion and enduring to the end. He wanted to argue. We'd testify-- very strongly, by the way-- of the truth and divinity of the Book of Mormon, Christ's Atonement, Joseph Smith's validity and calling. He would come back with "Well, you know, like I was saying, there's been a lot of scandals with the Catholic church..." or "Well, you know, like I was saying, a lot of people don't believe in Mormons..." yes, I know a lot of people don't believe in the Mormon faith, I know that there were a lot of wars started over religious beliefs and I don't want to know about the catholic fathers going off the deep end. But dag-nabbit, the church is true! I told him "People may reject us, but that doesn't mean we're not true. People rejected Christ."

Agency, you're such a headache.

The mission is such a high-stress job. We had several heart-attacks getting Delores and her daughter Samaria into the baptismal font and confirmation chair. I felt like a rubber band being stretched out, inch by inch. The other elders in my ward kept teasing me as I paced the hallways, waiting for them to walk into the church. Although they had made it to their baptism, we weren't sure if they would come back the next day to be confirmed. I'm pacing back and forth during the opening hymn and Elder Kaelin says "huh. Sister Gunson. You look kinda stressed." I almost decked an elder. Sarcasm is funny and all, but not in these situations.

I felt like an umpire. They sat back in the pew after being confirmed and I felt like standing up, looking over at Satan (who was probably moping outside the door) and yelling "SAFE! SAFE. SAFEY SAFE SAFETY SAAAAAAAFE!"

Obviously they're not. Because agency is such a pill. But it's nice to know that we have a ward whose Texan hospitality knows no limits. They flocked to this duo like Mormons to General Conference. Within an hour of being confirmed, they had been given much-needed clothes and dinner invitations. Texas. You should try it some time.
In my personal studies, I read (for the thousandth time) Jacob 5:75.  For those of you who don't know how I ended up in Texas for a year and a half, lemme explain.... no, there is too much, lemme sum up.

5 years ago at EFY, I read this scripture and I heard the smallest of whispers say "You're going on a mission." The spirit has the remarkable ability to whisper, but pierce the heart to its core. Over the next 5 wild years, I have never forgotten that impression. I knew that somewhere up there, it had been decided a long time ago that I was to serve a mission. I find myself in the heart of a ghetto in Hurst, Texas, signed up for 18 months, and while others might think:  how... did I get here?" I know exactly how I got here.

Agency. Freaking agency. I CHOSE to sign up, I flippin' ASKED for this, I practically BEGGED. Despite the next roller coaster I went through-- where I wasn't always a bright and shining example of the believers--  I have been found worthy to lift where I stand. And I get the wonderful privilege of watching others make good choices. I watched Delores and Samaria go down into the water and come back up; I watched them be blessed; I watched them take discussions; I watched them accept what their souls knew was true.  I get to watch Alvin (yes, ALVIN) be baptized on Saturday. From May to August, we've toiled and trialed over how to help Alvin gain the unshakable resolve that he's now enjoying. The man that wouldn't come to church, that wouldn't give up drinking, that couldn't decide to be baptized now goes through Ensigns in a day. You wanna know how that happened?

Agency, you Sour Patch Kid.

Love y'all!
Sister Gunson