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.