Monday, July 29, 2013

You Be Drugged Up, Missing or DEAD!!

Halla Familia,
So everything has been pretty good. I just read Cindy's email and it kinda reminds me of our situation! Our ward is pretty good but these past Sundays there has been probably 30-50 people coming. What we were told about our ward when we first got into the area was that there was around 100 people in our ward and the building was bursting at the seams. Wellllllll.... I guess you could say it is bursting at the seams of a very small shirt. The church is Tiny! The church was just built about 2 or 3 years ago because it finally went from a Branch to a Ward. yup... Tiny.
We had high expectations from the Elders about the area. Sis Richards and I were Doubled in and were told that the ward was excited to help us and to see us and where all fired up about the Broadcast a few weeks ago. Well... They were excited to have sisters in the area, but as for being the chosen people that were all fired up to help us is lacking a little. It's hard to determine now because they say that everyone is out on vacation and won't be back till school starts, but I don't know. It was also frustrating because of the organization. This is a new area for us that the Elders have been working in for a while, but the problem is they kept no paperwork. There was so much work going on that they slacked off on the paperwork. It is understandable, the work here is booming. We have had about 30 referrals to start off with and tons to do, but we have nothing on the previous investigators. How much they know, what the Elders have already taught and all that fun stuff. We also don't have any tracting records - which is kinda important cause your not supposed to tract the same place within 6 months of each other. So yeah. Lots of Work, No organization, It has been a stressful 2 weeks of trying to get things thrown together, we also had to divide our area from the Elders. They wanted to keep meeting with people here in Wheelersburg but they live in Portsmouth (pronounced Portsmith). Sis Richards was worried because she doesn't want us stepping on each others toes. So we sat down with the Elders - Elder Williams (who is the District Leader) and Elder Carter (he was my MTC District Leader, so I know him!). we got a map and divided the area and said that we would only go into the other persons area if it was needed and the investigator would not meet unless it was specifically the Sisters or Elders. Things have been pretty crazy.
Enough about all of that stress. It has been pretty good. Ohio is green but it is not as green as West Virginia. and as Sis Richards tells me West Virginia is not as green as Virginia where she was before this transfer. So I guess Ohio is the less green of all the areas, but compared to Utah it's still a tropical forest. The people here are nice, Southern Hospitality/ Appalachian Hospitality/ They are just nice. but they are not very sincere.
So you are probably wondering why I put You be Drugged up, Missing, or Dead!!! as the header to this Email, so here is the explanation. There is an apartment complex next to where we live called Dogwood Ridge Apt. and there are some pretty interesting people who live there. Most of our potential investigators live there. On the first day that we went over to meet and talk with the people we ran into Rhonda. Rhonda is an interesting lady. she has a daughter named Brionna, and a son Jake. She hates drugs and people who do drugs, but she smokes. and we were talking to her and just getting to know her and she told us "now you girls don't go to Portsmouth. It's a bad place. Lots of bad things happen to those bad people. There are drugs and evil people. You stay here this is a good place. cause if you go to Portsmouth you be Drugged up, Missing, or Dead! uh huh. definitely" in our minds we were like Rhonda is crazy, and she is a little bit. Everyone in Dogwood is Crazy a little bit. So after we talked with Rhonda we went and talked to her friend Summer, and do you know what? She said the same thing! so after a while of meeting people we got the same thing from everyone, and they still tell us to stay away from Portsmouth at least not to go preaching to the people here. Most of our investigators ask us what brought us to such a low place and to such a bad people and why would live here. and I can't help to think Why do you live here if it's such a terrible place? yeah people are interesting here.
Another funny thing that is similar to Cindy in Kansas are the people both in the church and out of it. They will peak through their windows, or you can hear their TV's or you can hear them talking. and they Won't open the door. But some people open the door and just say now is not a good time or I'm not feeling good come back later, or we are not interested in buying anything. It's pretty great. Oh and another thing that is similar everybody Smokes!! so if I permanently smell like smoke it's not my fault. I might die of second hand smoke or something but all is good all is good. Another thing, Everyone here believes in Jesus! which is great but super difficult at the same time. They all have their own churches that they go to and they are pretty firm on the religion that they have at the moment. My favorite is when we go tracting (smiley face): *Knock on door and they open it* "Hello! how are you! We are Sister missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we are...(we say a few different things)... would you like to know more?" "I'm Baptist/Catholic/First Church/ Etc" "Oh that's great"... and my favorite reply "My Fathers a Preacher, we has his own channel on channel 2 and he has a congregation of two thousand souls, and I am not interested in what you have to say but you can tune into channel 2 and find out more about my church, Goodbye" *Door Closes, sighs, laughs, other expressions* We don't watch TV. Tracting is not our favorite to do but we had to do it a few times this past week because we had no appointments and still were waiting on paperwork from the Elders. Tracting is not very fruitful.
There are several amazing families here though that we have had the opportunity to teach and meet. For example the Bradley's - I'm not really sure whose last name it is because they aren't married but we just call them the Bradley's. It's Ronda (she was converted at 16 but then didn't ever go to church or anything, so she was baptized and forgotten), Shawn (the 'Dad'), and Caleb (the 'Son'). Shawn and Caleb are not baptized and are looking into the Church. Ronda and Shawn both smoke, but Shawn is trying to quit and he is trying to get over several other things as well Ronda said she would quit as soon as Shawn did, because they both get super cranky and mean when they try and quit. Sister Richards and I had the opportunity to go over with the Elders and watch them receive blessings. The Spirit was so strong that there were many strong words told to them. They are a great family that is trying very hard to stay together. They are hoping to get married in November and then get baptized after that. So they have a long time before anything happens with them, but they are trying hard.
I am trying to stay patient, diligent, and hard working. There is much to do, but it is all about finding the Elect people. We had the opportunity to talk to President Pitt and we told him that it was hard because our church is 30 minutes from where we live and a lot of people don't have cars and there aren't enough people here to give rides to those who wish to come, and Sister Pitt said, Jokingly, "The Elect People will have cars". so Everywhere we go, we say to each other "do they have a car? oh they do! maybe their Elect!" haha well I love you all and I pray for you. Be good, brush your teeth, eat healthy food, read your scriptures and pray. Oh and a challenge for you: Pray/ think of someone that you could teach the gospel to that doesn't have the gospel, or could be stronger and either teach them or refer them to the missionaries!
Love You All
Sister Karen Call

The Bugs here are HUGE!
  It was a sudden storm and Raining like crazy! We got Soaked running from the library to the Car which was like 50 feet
 Sister Richards and I at Wal-mart taking a picture for our Zone Leaders
 The Fog here is Crazy!! I'll have to take a picture in the morning! You can't see across the street!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Transfer Day!

Thursday!! it seems so long ago today!  Anywho, Everyone was excited!! today is the day, the sun is shining, the tank is clean, we are going to get out of here! OH NO... the tank is Clean!! It is finally HERE!! haha yeah it was pretty awesome. Saying goodbye to Sister Nielsen, Stone, and Simmons was pretty hard. I had spent a wonderful 12 days with them at the MTC and now we were saying goodbye till we meet again. We all Went into the chapel at the stake center where all of our stuff was and all the new missionaries got to say their name and where they were from. then one by one they called our name and announced our new companion and where we were going. when I finally got called to put on the sorting hat to decide where I go and who I go with.... guess who!!??.... Angie knows!!!!! I was put with Sister Richards!!! what are the chances! I got to talk to her on the phone before I left for the MTC and know she is my Trainer!! Ahh!! Anywho we are serving in the Portsmouth Ohio area. and my address is: 1823 - C Dogwood Ridge Rd. Wheelersburg, OH 45694.
It took about an hour to drive here and so far it has been amazing! this area is just booming with people. Only problem is... it's a new area. There is no organization at all, and we had a new district leader who was going to try and split up the area so we wouldn't be stepping on each others toes while we are out here. It has been a crazy few days just trying to get all of the paperwork from the other missionaries filled out and put together, trying to split the area so there was work for us and the other Elders and yeah. As sister Richards says it is not normal the way we have started out. but all is good, all is good.
Fun fact. everyone we meet here keeps asking us why we have come here- it is such a dangerous place and there are terrible people! and every time I just think in my mind... Why are you here then?? yeah people here are a little crazy, but they are all superbly nice. Southern Hospitality it's great.
But yeah I will have to tell you more later. of our ordeals on another occasion. I just wanted to let you know where I was and who I was with. I am in good hands - the Lords... and Sister Richards :)
I love you All!!!
-Sister Call

Hillbilly Hotdogs!  It was pretty good!  Very interesting...very interesting.

The "Outhouse" that is really just another place you can eat in.

Me and my "hotdog" it was a chicken tender with mozzarella cheese sticks on a hot dog bun.  With sauce and stuff.

Funny signs everywhere

You can also eat in a bathtub.

First Two Days - More to come not enough time!

 I will only be sending Emails on Mondays.
This week has been pretty crazy. I got to call Mom and dad before I got on the plane to leave but other than that I was not able to call again. We had a layover in Detroit and it was supposed to be an hour long but by the time we got there we had about 20 minutes to get to our loading area... yeah it was crazy and Detroit airport is freaking huge and we had no idea where we were going. so we basically ran from one side of the airport to the next and arrived just in time. We went through the glowing tunnel and didn't even know it. We were in a bit of a panic because Sister Simmons and Stone were late for the buses at the MTC and when we arrived at Detroit they disappeared, but they arrived bout a minute before we were allowed to board so everything went over well.
When we arrived in WV Charleston airport our mission President was waiting there for us with his wife Sister Pitt, and his assistant. There were 31 new missionaries in the West Virginia Charleston mission. 17 Elders and 14 Sisters, two of the sisters are waiting for their visas to go to Argentina. We packed all of our suitcases and stuff into a small trailer and drove to the Stake Center. We unloaded our suitcases and brought them into the church and put them in a room till we came back on Thursday for Transfers. I'm not going to lie I was tired, hungry, and a little confused on what was going on. I didn't have any sleep the night before our flight because I had to finish packing and writing notes to people and we needed to wake up at 2 am to leave. When we got to the airport none of the food places were open till about 6-6:30 and I was waiting in line to call Mom so I did not have an opportunity to buy something to eat. I had pretzels and water on the plane... very filling let me tell ya.. When we landed in Detroit we had to rush from one side to the next. So by the time we arrived in WV at 3:30ish it had been a long day of No sleep, and little to eat. Sister Pitt felt bad that they hadn't brought anything for us but it was all good. Sister Pitt is such a sweet lady. President Pitt is an Awesome guy!  They are both just spiritual powerhouses. It amazes me every time I hear their testimonies and their life stories.
Anywho, at around 5:30ish we headed to the Mission Home. We had dinner and a small devotional and testimony meeting. Each of the missionaries got up introduced themselves and told why they were on a mission. It took a while because we had 31 new missionaries shoved into a room the size of the Living room and dining room put together. President Pitt told us that we were special, we are part of a special movement that is going on in the Church and we are all called to serve and find the elect that are waiting for us. The Elect are Everywhere and they are looking. We just need to find them.
After the Devotional the Elders stayed at the mission home, and the sisters went to a nearby Hotel because there was not enough room. We were put into companions of three. I was with Sister Boldrin and Sister Francis. They are pretty funny and have very strong testimonies.
First Day done!!! I don't think I have fallen asleep so fast in my life!
 In the morning we had a continental Breakfast and Sister Boldrin stared a little too long at a lady and her kid and got a bit of a mouthful of angry words. Note to self: do not stare at people in Hotels - they are not nice and don't want you to stare at them (they are not from WV. No Mercy). The other Sisters that were at the Hotel were able to place their first Book of Mormon and they were all super excited, but no one knew where the church was to tell the lady( ha,ha).
We headed back to the Stake Center and started Interviews with the President and having different lessons on our missionary handbook. We also got to meet an Investigator, a recent convert, and an old convert. The recent convert her name is Briana had such an amazing story. Her father left when she was 8 and she grew up with little to no religion (everyone here knows about Jesus and they all love him in one way or another). She is now 18 years old and has been going to college. She went through 4 sets of missionaries and they all did the same thing and none of them were progressing with her. On the last set of missionaries, they started over that she was a Child of Heavenly Father and that they loved her. She got super angry and told them to leave. but as the night went on she kept thinking about it and she remembered a lady in church had given a talk on being a Child of God. and it just hit her. She was an elect. She was waiting for the right time and the right moment to join the church. She was looking for something in her life and didn't know where to go next. These words I tell you can't even describe her life and her story that well or what was felt as she was speaking, because words can not do anything for you. It was amazing.
When I spoke with the President I told him about my family, about my life, about basically anything. I didn't know what to say when he asked me what my mom would say about me. I know what I hope she would say about me but I don't really know what she would say about me. It just really made me think of goals that I needed to set to become a better person.
After that, we headed out and tried out the support cards that we got from the church. We are given $160 each month for our mission. Sister missionaries will never ride bikes. This mission is a dangerous mission for walking and riding bikes. There are NO sidewalks anywhere! The roads are narrow and curve constantly. After we went out to eat we headed back to our Hotel for one last night before Transfers.

-Sister Call

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It has been super busy here in the MTC sorry for not sending any mail.. I have them written and in an envelope I just haven't had time to get stamps. To start off I love my sister missionaries they are so great!! There are six of us in a room and my sister missionaries are great!
The sisters in my district are Stone, Simmons, Nielsen and I. The Elders are Carter, Lane, Ramirez, Labrum, Mcfarland, Payne, and Staveley. We have such a great group we get along very well. Sometimes there are some anger management issues in our class but so far nothing too serious. My companion is sister Nielsen and she is pretty great! She loves to talk and laugh and sing, and then there is me and I'm all quiet trying to understand what she just said. Anywho, the very first day I got to the MTC during lunch I ran into Cindy!! I was like yess!!! I wasn't expecting to see anybody I knew the enitre time I was here but I have seen several people. I have also seen Elder Frampton and he seems to be doing great, he is smiling and laughing every time I see him in the cafeteria. On the first day after lunch we got to go and be part of a group investigator meeting. It was a real eye opener of what kind of questions and stuff we were going to run into as we go out into the field. It was kind of uncomfortable at first because no one knew what to say or do, but eventually we became comfortable and started asking questions and answering their questions.
My roommates are pretty awesome they are soo funny! they are all younger than I am but that isn't saying much. they are all 19 and I am 20.
On July 4th was probably one of the craziest days I have had yet at the MTC. We got up at 6 to be at gym time by 6:20. We went into a small room where there were a bunch of Oliptical walker things and a bunch of weights. I discovered that I hate olipiticals and they hurt my thighs if I walk on them for 45 min. After gym we only had 30 min to get ready and head to class so it was super stressful trying to take a shower and get all ready and be on time to class but everything worked out just fine except for my hair... it basically stayed in a fro.
Our zone here in the MTC has been pretty amazing. The first people we met from the leadership was Sister Vail'lala and Adair. They are the sweetest people ever! They are headed to DC today and we are going to miss them very much. but they were very accepting and wanted everyone to get to know each other that was their challenge. so we so far have eaten breakfast, lunch, and dinner as a zone every single day! It was so great to hear their testimonies and to laugh and have fun together. Another thing that happened on July 4th was that sister Despain came in (she is an elderly woman) and she asked to speak with me. We had, the day before, done a survey kind of thing and she was following up on it. I was a little worried for a second that something was wrong and I forgot to do something before I got to the MTC. but she was just wondering if me an my companion Sister Nielsen would like to do a class to help us understand and read the book of mormon better. The classes were so amazing they helped me open my eyes to the different things we could get out fo the Book of Mormon and the Bible. I have learned so much from her little classes with us and I am so grateful that I had that opportunity to get to participate in that class. I feel more confident in the way I study for things now.
After talking with her about participating in classes we went to a small workshop where we discussed the importance of seeing people the way God would see them. by truly getting to know them and trying to understand their life stories and become connected with them. They said it was important to get to know the people, because we are not going on a mission for ourselves we are going on a mission for the people. They told us to be mindful as we went through our missions for the blessings we have and how they will affect us. the first thing that popped into my mind was during lunch and how it was helped paid for by the tithe payers of the church. I have also felt the blessing for myself from other people. My family is supporting me on my mission. The Braithwaite side is helping me. so many people are helping me on my mission and I am so grateful, I never realized how blessed i am to have so many people looking out for me and providing a way for me to accomplish all that is needed for me. I know that as I serve a mission that my family will also receive blessing.
After Lunch (this is still July 4th) we had class with Sister Kahawaii and she is so amazing! she had us express how we were feeling right at that moment on our second day at the MTC and how these feelings could be related to our future investigators and how they would feel after hearing the gospel. I never realized how overwhelming and frightening that it could be. Anywho, after that she went over the Fundamentals of being on a mission. she also had explained to us how it was decision on what kind of missionary we were going to be. we are supposed to move from doing what a missionary would do. to becoming/ being a missionary. doing -> beocoming. she said it was up to us to fill in the blank: [________] Missionary. It really made me think about how I was going to become the missionary I wanted to be, and there are so many things that I need to work on but I know that the Lord is on my side and will make all things possible for me.
After class we had dinner and then headed strait for the fourth of July Fireside. It was called the Independence fireside. In every Fireside/ Devotional we sing several songs before it even starts and it helped me realize how much music can bring the spirit to a room. For the fireside we got to watch "17 Miracles". It was an amazing movie. I loved it. I have never really cried during a movie, but I felt the spirit so strongly that my emotions got the best of me. It helped me realize the faithfulness of the saints and how we may be put down by others but we have to keep moving and not be discouraged and continue loving the Lord.
After watching 17 Miracles we went outside and "watched" the fireworks. I say "watched" because we couldn't really see them. We were watching them through trees and basically could only hear the sounds of the fireworks going off. We got to stay up till 11 which I thought was great! until the next day haha.
July 5th.
Sister Nielsen and I got to teach our first "Investigator" it was really our teacher Brother Makahilahila but we called him 'Ryan'. He is a pretty relaxed guy and doesn't really know where he is going in life. I'm not going to lie our first lesson with him went pretty terrible. We explained prayer pretty well but... then we asked him a little too soon if he would pray. he was a little weirded out and was like "what??" Yeah it went pretty bad. But the Second lesson went much better. it was the next day and we got to talk to him about the restoration fo the Gospel and he seemed pretty accepting of it.The Third time was even Better!! We talked about the Book of Mormon and he said he would read it!! Sister Nielsen and I were both excited! We will be teaching him again on Friday. During class on the 5th was pretty tense... there was a lot of anger. Elder Lane seems to be having some problems controlling his anger and it made everyone super uncomfortable, and we can still feel the discomfort in the room everytime we go to class. but the first thing that popped into my head was a quote after he kinda exploded in class: "People will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, because hate in your heart will consume you too. "
I felt kind of down the rest of the day until personal exercise time. we have a sister in our room who was an MMA fighter, Sister Johnson, She is pretty legit. Anywho she led us in our workout and it was pretty intense. My Thighs burrrrnnned!! and we got a lot of laughs out of how ridiculous we looked trying to do everything she could do.
All of my MTC roommates are amazing individuals. I can just see the Light basically radiating from them. They are basically angels... besides their weird sense of humor haha. They can be kind of silly at times. but they are a huge example to me. We Pray and read our scriptures together, and it has really helped build my testimony and trust in them and the Lord.
Time is running short! and I still haven't written everything but I will try and write more later. I don't have another P-day till I am out in the field.... so yeah. I leave July 16th at 3 in the morning and I will probably call home during our layover... I'm not really sure when that will be. I will try and send a Letter.
I Love you all, and I am praying for you! Be good! I love you!!!!
-Sister Karen Call
Sent July 10, 2013 from MTC