Only in Olney


It really feels like months since I've written last, and so much has happened in the past week that I really don't know where to begin!  (Just as a warning, this could be a very scattered, crazy letter, but I know you'll be able to put everything together into something cohesive.) 

First of all, I love my trainer.  Sister Hazen is JUST what I needed.  She is from Layton and she went to Utah State for a few years before coming out.  She's majoring in elementary ed, and that should say something about her sweet, fun personality.  She is so outgoing and is great at connecting with and relating to people.  I feel like she's one of those people who always knows the right thing to say.  It's such a blessing because people are so much more willing to talk to us! It's funny though, I'm not sure if we would have been really close friends outside of the mission, but I've had some experiences that have taught me that this companionship was inspired. 

Olney is the area I've been assigned to.  (I can't remember if I told you that already.) But anyway, I already love it here.  The first day, I told Sister Hazen, "I'm not sure if I should say this, or if it's exactly politically correct, but there are so many black people here!" She just laughed and later in the week when she was reading me some of her first journal entries, we discovered that she said the same thing.  It's kind of a culture shock coming from Provo, and I'm pretty sure we are the only white people in our complex, but I feel like black people are the only people willing to listen to us. They're great.

The ward is great too.  Ironically, the first four days I was here, no one signed up on the calendar to feed us, so we just ate at our apartment, which was completely fine, just funny.  Since I've been to church though, I've met a lot of the families and they are all so kind to missionaries! We visited one family who is a pretty typical Mormon family: five kids, dad's the Young Men President, Mom is in the Primary, and they surprised me on Sunday with a list of home-remedies for mosquito bites.  :]  (I promise every email is not going to include mosquitoes, but this is actually a funny story.)  Okay, so you remember how worried I was about the mosquitoes before I came here? Well, I came prepared with repellant and everything only to find out that one of the sisters is allergic to the chemicals in the repellant.  It's so bad that if anyone comes to the Visitors' Center with it on, and she's there, she'll stop breathing.  And we serve in the Visitors' Center every other day.  So, it kind of looks like I have a mix between elephantitis, cancer, and chicken pox on my legs right now.  (I counted last night and I have a new record: 40 bites in less than a week. Impressive, huh?  :])  Anyway, we'll see who dies first.  Just kidding, I'm really not worried, and I should send you a picture just so that you could laugh too.  I was telling the sisters in my apartment last night that if this is the hardest trial I have while I'm here, I'll take it.  But anyway, that's why the sister in the ward gave me all of these home remedies.  I'm planning on using them.

Okay, enough about mosquitoes.  You shouldn't have to hear about them again unless I get bit on my nose and it swells up and turns purple just like all of my other bites do.  Then you will definitely hear about that.

Now for all of the things that aren't superficial.  

The first day in DC (Olney technically) was great.  I expected that I'd have to adjust and so I was just trying to go with the flow, but it was different being the new person and not knowing anyone.  The missionary schedule and routine was great, that didn't really take any adjusting, it was just getting used to the people, and being a missionary, instead of just me, that was hard.  I kept realizing that I am so inadequate, and I know so little about the scriptures, and I was surrounded by missionaries who were so much more experienced, that I didn't feel needed or like I would do any good.  Obviously, I know better, but it was hard to stop those feelings.  Then, in our visitors' center training meeting on Friday, I just realized that I felt depressed and frustrated with everything.  Then the Visitor Center director and his wife talked on happiness.  It was perfect.  I realized that the same thing had happened to me in Nauvoo last summer, and that those feelings of discouragement really are one of Satan's greatest tools against us.  It's interesting that I was prepared in Nauvoo to recognize what I was feeling and that I was focused way too much on myself and not on the Lord and his work.  I'm glad I was blessed with the inspiration to figure that out only a few days into my mission instead of months later, because the sun (Son) really came out after that epiphany and life has just gotten better. 

Wow, my time went a lot faster than I thought it would.  There will be more spiritual experiences in the next email, I just wanted to include info about the area in this one.

First day of tracting and we met Ryan.  Our one white investigator.  I'll let you know how things go with him.

My first Sunday at church a girl who hasn't been in 15 years came.  Then after church we were able to talk to Sheila, one of our investigators.  We went to her house and got there just as she was coming home, so she let us in and we taught her.

The Lord is really blessing me with good experiences talking to people.  I think I was expecting more rejection, and there has been plenty, but I'm really seeing how REAL faith is, when I just trust Him and open my mouth and talk to people!

I also just wanted to point out how funny it is that the 3 investigators we've picked up have been the last house we were going to tract that day, or the last house before an appointment, or the last house on the street.  It's just funny to me how blessings come after the trials.

I wish I could write more, and there will be more uplifting stories next time, but know that I love you all and look forward to hearing from you.

Quote of the week: The people who are really converted are those who seek for personal revelation.  - Sister Hazen.


Sister Welch
Sister Welch with President and Sister Matsumori

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