Saturday, May 31, 2014

Murphy's Law

I'm sure you're all familiar with the idea that "anything that could go wrong, will." It's referred to as "Murphy's Law" and being previously immersed in a culture that embraced it and prepared for it (theatre) I thought I was pretty adapted to it.

Usually when you say things like that, some force for either good or bad takes that as a challenge.

Sunday night, took a look at our week and it was JAM PACKED. Our days were filled with appointments with NEW people and exchanges. It was lined up to be the most awesomest punch-the-adversary-in-the-face, kick-butt week a missionary could imagine.... And then none of it happened. With the exception of one lesson with "the Joker and Harley Quinn"... everybody cancelled because of things out of everyone's control. Cars broke down, daughters got sick, grandkids needed to be taken care of, fiances fell down flights of stairs, work called them to work an extra 4 hours.... you name it, it happened.

With "the Joker and Harley Quinn", that lesson was a little bit less than effective because our exchange (a member of our ward who went with us) must've been frustrated with the Joker because he shoved every single commitment in PMG (asides from following the example of our Savior and being baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority) down his throat and it was not so lovingly done. We went back 2 days later to make sure everything was okay. It is-- and they both are going to quit smoking this week!!

So success can be found around every corner. The important thing is to focus on that.

We were asked to speak at a youth fireside about preparing for missions!!! IT WAS SO AWESOME. I spoke about preparing spiritually. Elder Wright's comic about missionaries being "Black Ops for Jesus" resurfaced and made yet another cameo. And then they opened it up for a panel and they asked some REALLY good questions.

We had a less active member call us for some "eternity questions" that we're just so not qualified to answer... and then "Murphy" (his name has been changed to protect his identity.... but he's the guy we taught in Lantana that we had to refer to Euless that now I get to teach again) called us because his whole life is the EPITOME of Murphy's Law (hence the nickname) and he needed someone to talk to. It felt a lot like my high school days... You never really outgrow the role of "free shrink." They'll always find you, I guess. (It's okay, I love it). The only conflict this time around is that because of my calling, I really can't get... "involved." But Murphy is still doing good... we just need lots of exchanges.

So I want to tell y'all an interesting story with a piece of juicy fruit news. After district meeting, we had an appointment with "Wonderful". It punched because when we walked up to her for said appointment... she was in a violent vocal altercation with her neighbor upstairs. We caught the tail end of it, but I think the neighbor was accusing Wonderful's daughter of being a home-wrecker... Wonderful calmly walked up to us after the neighbor stormed off and I asked her if she was okay. She got up real close and in the lowest possible voice said "if anything happens to me... remember the people upstairs."

..... Dude, where am I serving? Texas?.... Really?

We talked to her about the Plan of Salvation, about the reason for opposition and eternal families... we gave her the pamphlet and a hug. We're walked away and I'm thinking "How the heck... what just happened?" and it was especially difficult because my dear sweet companion was struggling and having a hard time teaching. I was a little wrapped up in myself (more so than I should be, I know) and wishing I could have a mission-wise older companion....
... and then President calls.  Sister Morrill answered the phone... chats a bit about the day we'd been having... and then says "uh, sure, she's right here." She mouthed "IT'S PRESIDENT"so  I took the phone.... and got a "spiritual call from the Lord" to train.

I am training. I'm going to have "posterity." I am training. WHAT?!?!?!

So tomorrow, I'm gonna go pick up the newbie.... oh pray for me.

How was your week??
Love, Sister Gunson

Monday, May 19, 2014

"I've Always Been Okay"

Weeeeeelllll..... This week was a glass cage of emotion. 

So, chronologically speaking. Zone Conference was AWESOME!!!!!!!!! I got to see my old zone, most of my best mission friends are in that zone. It was really fun to talk to my old buddies and GUESS WHAT LANTANA WARD PROVIDED LUNCH SO I SAW A TON MORE PEOPLE! I talked to Sister Simmons and the way we were talking affirmed to me that I will probably be giving my homecoming talk in the Lantana ward... move my records, that's where I belong. Sister Simmons said that they're all proud of me and it just made me feel like I had family here in town. Relatively speaking, Lewisville is 20.8 miles exactly from Euless. 

I'm sure you're all wondering about these extension rumors.... Mom, you'll be happy to know that I'm not getting one. I was NOT HAPPY. I ran to President right after Zone Conference and said "Guess what time it is!" and he showed me his ministerial certificate and said "this is the only calling with a release date, Sister Gunson, reap while the day lasts." So... Even with a good deal of time left, this week felt like I was dying. I had to deal with the fact that my mission will have to end and that just made me really really sad. But enough of this mess, good things happened this week! 

We (with the Elders with whom we split Euless) gave a church tour/ interview with someone we met at the library. He's doing a "photographic essay on religious diversity in the Euless community." The interview went really well!! He was very polite, asked a lot of Book of Mormon questions and gave us complete editorial rights to everything we said... so the first thing we said was "WE ARE NOT THE CHURCH'S PR.... We're just kinda Christ's PR." 

We also got an AWESOME REFERALLl!! "El Salvador" had a friend getting baptized this past weekend in Detroit. She knew this friend in High School and this friend had done some pretty hardcore stuff... so inspired by his total turnaround, she asked missionaries to stop by. We took one of our Ward Missionaries with us, Sister Norton, and it was AWESOME. Just.... dah!! She was like "Can I read the Book of Mormon?? Can I come to church??" before we ever offered! Honestly, we didn't have time to extend invitations, she was asking us about it before we said anything!! 

We were also able to get in contact with a lot of new people. Our teaching pool went from a puddle to a pond this week!! So this week, we could probably turn it into a pool if we keep working hard!! 

Funny story, so, yesterday, Elder Sheeran and I were asked to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting... 5 minutes before the actual meeting started.... I talked about the Plan of Salvation and how much comfort it brought to my life. A lot of people said that they liked it, so for writing a talk during opening exercises, it couldn't have been so bad!! 

"True Grit", as usual, continues to strengthen my own testimony. She's such a solid individual, there's no better nickname for her. For once, she had a calm, quiet week. Nobody bothered her, her ex left her alone, and she quit smoking for good. We taught her tithing and she interrupted us talking about the blessings of tithing by saying "yeah, I've been thinking a lot about tithing and stuff and I don't want to go into it with the expectation that I'm going to get something in return, I don't want to do it that way. The way I see it, I'm coming into a family and I gotta do my part in that family. Paying the 10% isn't gonna be a problem for me. I'm a part of this family, and I love my family." 

She also said "when I get to Heaven, I'm gonna ask God for like 30 seconds with the Devil. That's all I need." I said "Um... You know he doesn't have a body, right?" she paused and said "I'll figure it out." True Grit would be the only person to figure out how to beat the crap out of the adversary. 

In closing, she said "I know I'm gonna be okay, I've always been okay. I'm a very strong individual." And I just love her confidence. She has confidence in the Lord and that gives her confidence in herself. I think about my life and I know I'll always be okay too. SO why worry? Worrying is just prepping for failure and that's no way to live a life of intention (as my good friend Bro. Vigil would say). 

I love my mission. 

Have a great week! 
Sister Gunson

Saturday, May 17, 2014

What Would My Mom Do?


I recognize that goals are stars to steer by and not sticks to beat ourselves with, but sometimes it gets easy to confuse the two. Not gonna lie, people asked how this week was for us and we both would go "Good!... Stressful!"  

I don't know why, probably because she's determined to get baptized, but True Grit is a new episode of Days of Our Lives every week. This week, her ex broke into her apartment while she was at work, stole the TV, and then texted her while she was on her way home to tell her what he did. His new girlfriend sent her threatening and demeaning texts. So True Grit is moving to Oklahoma after she gets baptized. It's gonna take her a couple months to move there and she's dead-set on getting baptized June 7th, so spiritually, she's intact. I just want to solve her problems and I can't!!!!! I'M ONLY 20. Last night, we shared 3 Nephi 11 with her and the spirit just FILLED the apartment. Even her kids were calm. It was amazing. I love that chapter. When you're having a bad day.... read it. The spirit is so strong in that chapter. It feels like calm, you guys. But the kind of calm that hammocks on sandy beaches can't give. It's the calm of Christ. 

So, discouragement weakens faith. And resolve. And hope. And your soul. Just, don't ever get discouraged, okay? Because sometimes, you'll be called upon to do hard things. I don't want to get into detail because it's rude to name names and the white bible (Hannah's referring to her missionary rule book...) specifically told me to not to, but when people don't work with you, it's frustrating. A lot of this week has been "okay, what do I need to do to become better? What do I lack, what's missing?" and when you can't really find a definitive answer... it wears on you. 

HOWEVER. This week was productive!! The Joker won't admit it, but it's been 2 weeks of him trying to pray and read his scriptures, he's come to church 3 times in a row, and he is LIGHTER. He's always been a funny goofy kid, but that quirkiness has been liberated. He's just not as weighed down as when I first met him. 

Not only that, but we streamlined our ward corollation meetings. We got together with the elders with whom we split the ward and basically had our own corollation meeting on Saturday, but then we spent some time figuring out how to get our WML and AsWML  (ward missionary leader and assistant ward missionary leader) on board and working with us instead of.... delegating everything back to us. We came up with this format where we organize our info into 5 seperate boxes for "Find, Teach, Baptize, Retain and Ward Work." That way, we get our ward missionaries involved and, once our WML gets the hint, he'll start working. Almost got into it with him over his cynical outlook on missionary work in this ward but there was no time.... Next week. (hopefully by next week I will have more charity and patience.) 

And that's what I'm learning this transfer. I'm learning that no matter what I do, no matter how hard I work, I still have to wait for the tree to grow. I can't make the seasons go faster, can't control the sun or the rain, so after all my digging and pruning, I have to wait. 

I hate wait. 

But it reminds me of mom.... A lot on my mission, I've asked the question to myself "what would my mom do?" and it's got me here so it's a pretty good problem-solving method! I LOVE YOU MAMA. Ma, you've tried so hard your whole life and now you're a grand master at working with troubled children!! I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you. Literally, I wouldn't be on this earth. I'm so glad I got to talk to you about your mission for a bit. It's all hysterical in hindsight! Can't wait to continue the conversation in a couple of months! 


Dad is cool too. Stay tuned for next month when I cry about my dad for Father's day :) 


Sister Gunson
EXTENDED EDITION: I went on an XC (exchange) with our STL's (sister training leaders) and ended up planning Zone Conference. While praying, I received revelation through a popular Eminem song.... I didn't know the Lord could do that, but He did. 

Disclaimer:  I don't know if everyone already knows what "finish it <" means but I thought I'd explain it in case it's just a Hannah thing.  When she would text, she would type < and then we would type back 3.  Put them together and you have <3.  Can you see the heart?  So I would ask a favor of anyone willing to write Hannah this week--put a 3 on your letter! :)
Eminem???? *sigh*

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Ballad of True Grit / Jedi Robes

My email heading actually sounds like a really boss blue-grass song. Quick, somebody write it!!

Well guys, this week was "run around like a chicken with its head cut off" week. We had a LOT of appointments and we were running pretty swiftly. Consequently... I am tired today. I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a bus. Probably because the week caught up to me.

First of all, True Grit really has true grit. Last week, she had a violent altercation with her boyfriend and permanantly kicked him out. The cops helped. When we went over, we went with the purpose to talk about CPR (church pray read, the magical formula of how to life). I was able to bear testimony of some of the more temporal things the Book of Mormon has done for me. I shared the first time I realized the Book of Mormon was true: It was a really petty situation, and I expected a lot of high-school drama to follow. But it never did. I was too preoccupied with the fresh wave of determined scripture study to care about what was going on. It filled me with peace, and the serenity pushed out all of the anxiety and heartbreak that could have ensued. It was really cool for me to share that with True Grit because it was the first time I had the opportunity to share it with an investigator.

In hindsight, I was kind of mad at myself that such a petty thing got the snowball of faith going.... but the story of it helped my investigator out. So... I'm kind of glad I had that experience.

Personal soap box time: Before I left Lantana, I had asked Heavenly Father to see the design. To see the grand and curious workmanship of my mission. I wanted to see things fall in to place because, at that time, small puzzles pieces had put themselves together. I got a little greedy and wanted to see more. Within my first week at Euless, I saw HUGE pieces of the puzzle come together. I have continued to see things click and it is REALLY COOL. The things I'm able to help my comp with, my area, the 'gators... There truly is a grand design and I've been so blessed to see it.

True Grit's daughter is now staying with her. With her scum-of-the-earth boyfriend gone (I studied charity today and forgot to apply it...) she asked her daughter to come help her. Plus, her daughter's pregnant and True Grit will be adopting the baby so she wants to make sure her daughter is being healthy. We met again last night and invited her to take the lessons. She accepted!! Quite readily, actually!! SO YAYYY!!

True Grit continues to knock down her trials with excellent force. Her smoking habits are decreasing rapidly and she's on fire. Last night, we taught her how to read her scriptures and used 1 Nephi 8 (Lehi's dream).  We started talking about symbolism.. She says "First thing Ima do when I get to Heaven is head straight for the glowing tree! I'm gonna say "Hey! Where's the fruit?! I wanna glow!!" Then she paused.... and said "There IS a glowing-fruit tree in Heaven, right?" She also refers to the Celestial Kingdom as "the Sun." She's hysterical, I love her to death!

We did service for Tender Mercy and she's our new best friend. She and her husband cover just about every inch of the Kingdom of Nerd. We were helping them pack up and when I was packing up their closet, I found some legit Jedi Robes. Of course I put it on, who do you think I am??
We went over for dinner later in the week and they brought us In-N-Out!! It's still the best burger in the world!! I got into a conversation with her husband about Scottish history. I said "Oh yeah, I'm related to a clan leader!" He thought that was cool and asked me what his name was. When I told him it was Robert the Bruce, his jaw dropped to the floor. Did you guys know that we're related to the other William Wallace? Apparently, he was a pretty big freedom fighter. Why didn't yout tell me sooner?! What's even cooler is that his ancestor was Robert the Bruce's Liutenant that took his embalmed heart to the Holy Land when Robert died.

Quick summary: getting referrals from members and ward council is more effective now (probably because we and the elders with whom we split the ward had a pow-wow specifically for it); we're hunting people out of the holes in the rocks (our potential sheets and all the LA's the ward council doesn't know) and we go to bed exhausted every night. We also have a Dr. Who 1000 piece puzzle of the Tardis exploding that we slowly hack away at during lunchtime so that we can unwind. Our days are just packed.

Have some pictures!

Love, Sister Gunson

Saturday, May 3, 2014

"It's Like The Bat Signal"


There we were, sitting in the trailer of our favorite Less-Actives, the Joker and Harley Quinn. After a weird week of trying to figure out who to go see and what to do with them, the Lord plopped us on their couch. As the Joker opened up to us about driving home from work, angry and irritable but randomly thinking "hey, maybe I should go to church" and then a couple hours later, we show up, I had a hard time keeping my jaw off the floor.

"So now, I guess this is some sort of sign? To have those thoughts earlier and now here you are at my door. Tell me, what goes on in the day of a life of a missionary on their way to see us?"


Sometimes, you knock on a half-open door with a golf-ball because you're determined to get a new investigator and not even a Rangers game and a few awkward moments is gonna get in the way of that. (agency might, though..)

Sometimes, you share an incredibly powerful message with a family after dinner on the importance of member work and then watch as the Spirit tells them what to do and then tell YOU that their goal is the proper goal.

You might even meet a dog that's literally bigger than your companion.

You get referred to as "Sister Gunslinger" by your 9 year old investigator because all he remembers is that your name starts with "Gun.... something" and then goes for "Gunslinger" (note: no complaints here).

Sometimes, you get transferred to the area that your old investigator was referred to at the beginning of the year and get to resume teaching him yourself instead of letting other missionaries do it.

You set a baptismal date with True Grit-- after she's been meeting with missionaries for 5 years!!! She decides that she's gonna quit smoking, give up swearing and Saturday night, she kicked her boyfriend out for good! TRIUMPH.

On occasion, you might end up playing "Sunshin on My Shoulders" on a century old player piano AND attempt to play an accordion.

Sometimes, all of your appointments for the day cancel in one morning and so you spend most of comp study trying to keep yourself together so that your green compy doesn't freak out... But knowing that you need to spend some time with Heavenly Father-- you need to hear His words and talk to Him-- you grab a plain blue Book of Mormon and head for the bathroom. You sit on the edge of the tub and cry and have a tender conversation with what could only be a literal and loving Heavenly Parent. You tell Him all your worries and fears and ask that He might talk to you. So, flipping open the Book of Mormon, you turn to Alma 17 where you receive comfort and strength to do hard things. You receive the promise to be an instrument in the Lord's hands and recognition that you're doing your best. And so you take a quick second to thank Heavenly Father for His mercies and His guidance. You're thankful for the trials you get to go through because you realize that it's all for your benefit and learning. And you walk out of the bathroom strong enough and serene enough to comfort your companion and to get out and work.

Then you find out that the reason all of your appointments cancelled was because the Lord needed you to be somewhere else. He needed His missionaries at the home of sweet Tender Mercy, another less active member who's had a really hard 3 years.

Because I love her, I'm not going to tell you all of what happened since a lot of it was opening up to us.... Suffice it to say that she's from Sister Morrill's hometown and she spent a couple months in Santa Barbara. She had pictures of the harbor and a view of the city from the beach... plus she could join with me on why In-N-Out is the best burger joint in the WORLD.  She also proved Heavenly Father's promise that morning that we would be instruments and that we would be guided to know where to go. Not only did the Spirit witness to me that she needed this, she was prepared for this moment... and every small step was guided. When we knocked on her door, I turned to say something to Sister Morrill, but had the strong impression to look directly at the peephole. I did it and was like "... why am I doing this?" Well, at the end of the lesson, Tender Mercy looks up at me, and says "you saw me through the peephole didn't you?" I eloquently said "uhhhh....... huh?" and she said "I wouldn't have opened the door, but I thought you saw me through it and had to open the door."

Crazy? Little bit. Real? SO real.

Sometimes, the bishop calls you and asks if you'll give a talk in Sacrament Meeting. You say "sure!" and then sit there... wondering what exactly you're going to speak about concerning missionary work (the assigned topic). You write and rewrite your talk and then, Sunday morning, you're praying and the Lord says "change topics" and you're like "TO WHAT?!" You re-write the talk with the small amount of time you have left, but are still a little shaky on it. And then, when you're sitting in Sacrament Meeting, the youth speaker talks about faith and listening to the Holy Ghost, one of the elders that you split the ward with is talking about Charity, so the Lord is like "ditch the talk you wrote, you're gonna combine those two talks and tell them how to use Faith and Charity to do missionary work!"

I'm just not one to argue with the Lord.

So, I over-answered the Joker's original question. That kinda stuff happens in a week, not just a day.

When we got the the Joker's, I'll be honest, I didn't know why we were there. We had a vague idea, but I felt like we were going to do something... else. We shared Helaman 5:12, talked about how to build ourselves on the rock, and all of a sudden, the Joker opened up. More than Sister Morrill has ever seen in her life. He was baptized before he really had a testimony and now all of his demons are haunting him. He wakes up every morning, scared to live, in so much pain. He knows he needs to come to church, but he says "I'll go back to church the day I wake up and I'm happy to be alive." We told him the formula for how to get to that day. We walked him through going to church, reading the scriptures and saying prayers and how he can best do it. We asked him if he'd do it and we could see the little mustard seed work-- at this point, it was barely faith, mostly hope-- and say "yes."

I call him the Joker because, as we were talking about God trying to get his attention and send him signs, he told us that he had been thinking he needed to go back to church and then we showed up. He sat there, a little dumb-founded and said "It's like the bat signal!! You know when to come!!"

People in need draw us out like that.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is we're the sisters Euless needs, not the sisters they want....? I forgot the line.

Love y'all!!
Sister Gunson

PS: I saw a live armadillo this week. Almost killed it. ALMOST