So I forgot my treasured little black study journal that I keep a running list throughout the week of everything that I want to include in my emails at home in the apt! Rats!!! I had quite the list going and I carry it with me everywhere so that I don't forget anything to tell you in my weekly email home. So I will have to go from memory this week. I sent all of you guys a handwritten letter in the mail so a lot of what I won't write in the email this week for the sake of time will at least make it out to you in a card.
The ants here are HUGE. Giant black thick ants that can scurry and climb sooo fast. I have been bitten by something or other multiple times on both ankles when tracting and I would assume that they were the ants, because I haven't really seen any mosquitos.
I still have not adjusted to the concept of dogs here. Their smell and their constant shedding of fur. I have not taken to the abundance of cigarette smoke in various homes that we tract around either.
I saw my favorite guy ever last night, Brother Elkington!! I just love him and his family, even though he is the only one that talks to us. I told him that you knew a Raiha Elkington and that is totally his cousin!! He was pleasantly surprised that you knew some of his family! His family sounded like spiritual giants in every sense of the word. We didn't think he was home when we circled his neighborhood for the 50th time that day, because his black truck wasn't in the driveway. But I had the impression that we should still stop by anyway, because his wife's car was there. We were going to knock on the door and ask if he was there (even though we assumed he wouldn't be) so that we could maybe say hi to his wife and try to build a good rappore (sp?) with her. His son Noah answered the door and said that they had just gotten home from a soccer tournament down in Vancouver and that his dad was home!! Score. I was so excited. I had left my scriptures in the car, because we assumed he would be gone so we started off with just a casual visit. I told him that you might send him a paddling shirt and he got so excited! He said he wears an XL. His club is prepping for the "Gorge" race this next weekend. After visiting with him for a while I felt prompted to share a couple scriptures that I had read in my personal study a couple days before. It was in Alma 49: 8, 19-20. It was talking about the Lamanites and they're preparation to come in and just annihilate the Nephites with a vicious and merciless attack. But the Nephites were lead by Captain Moroni and were prepared. In just those three verses alone the word "prepared" comes up I think like 6 times. It stuck out to me that that particular word was used so frequently. So it got me thinking about how we too must be prepared. The Lamanites tried as they might to penetrate any and every portion of the Nephite's fortresses but to no avail. They tried to force entry from the front entrance but were forced to draw back because they were not making an advances. We asked Brother Elkington how he prepares and fortifies himself to keep the adversary from penetrating him. Like his usual self, he tried skirting the question and began diverting to ways that others prepare themselves. Sister Mills had to just keep repeating the question and each time being more concrete and asked "what is ONE way that YOU safeguard yourself from the world through preparation?" He finally managed to talk about service and how it makes him feel edified and humbled to do things for other people. Especially preparing lessons for the High Priest group. I told him that just as we are constantly having to come up with ways to prepare and strengthen ourselves and our homes, so is Satan. If he can't force entry through the front door, he will try to come through the back. Through an open window. Any chink in our armor, any vulnerable part of us and our homes he will try to pierce us. I told him that we look forward to coming over and visiting him everyweek and that I love him and his family so much. I was nervous that the last time we had come over I might have laid down the hammer, but I guess it turned out to be just what he needed to hear because his response surprised me. He said that he loves it when we come over and appreciates our visits. He said he loves giving service but has a hard time accepting service, but our visits leave him feeling happy and inspired so he likes having us over. The last time we were there I had cried a lot so when I introduced myself to his wife my eyes were red and puffy. He said that his wife told him to "Stop making the Sisters cry!" That gave me hope. That she has acknowledged us and that maybe over time we can gain her trust and she will be more open with us. I am planning on baking something for her and the family the next time we come over. She is Samoan so maybe food will at least earn me some points. I told him that I have a half Samoan half Japanese cousin and that he refers to himself as "Jamoan" and Brother Elkington thought that was super funny.
We were tracting in one particular area and knocked on the door of a family in our ward named the Hew-Lens. When I saw them at church they looked like some type of Asian-Islander mix and I thought that they would be a good family to get to know. The wife first answered the door and did not seem all too excited that we were there. Not annoyed or anything but just kind of wondering what was the purpose of our visit. She said they were on their way out the door soon en route to Seattle to visit some family that had flown in from the Big Island of Hawaii. Sister Mills asked to use the bathroom so she let us in the house. While she was in the bathroom, I started looking at their family pictures and things on the wall. Not gonna lie it was kind of awkward at first because no one was talking, but I felt like there was no way I could leave this house and not establish some kind of relationship with them as the new missionary in the ward. She seemed like a pretty private person and her kids are very quiet as well so it was up to me to keep my foot in the door while my companion was in the bathroom. I asked if they were from Hawaii as a lot of the framed pictures on the wall were on Hawaiian-esque things and the conversation slowly began to blossom. I contunued to keep the conversation about her and her family, and sure enough she told me more and more. Turns out she is half-japanese half-filipino also!! Once she found that out she got increasingly more friendly. She even gave us two bags of Washington cherries. Soooo GOOD. One bag of Ranier and one bag of Bing cherries. She told us her conversion story and how her and her husband met and their journey to be sealed in the temple. That never would have happened if I didn't open my mouth and start talking. I had no idea what I was going to say but I trusted that the Spirit would guide me to ask her inspired questions that would help me gain her trust. I would drop little things about Hawaii that I knew or remembered and she lit up when I asked her if she was going to stop for malasadas at Leonard's when they go to HI next month. Boom, we got invited back for shave ice next Friday. Mom, you'll have to send me names of our family members and the cities they live in Hawaii so that I can sound credible when I tell people that I have family in HI. Haha they ask me for names of people and places and then I look dumb when I can't think of any.
There is another Japanese lady in our ward named Sister Warner and she is the best. She is orginally from Yokosko, Japan and speaks in pretty broken english but she is so missionary minded and so cool! Her and her husband were out of town for a while so I just met them and then I found out they are moving to Utah next week. Lame! When she finally found out I was Japanese she was like "Wha? Why you no tell me till now?? We kindred spirits! I make you Japanese food!!" Haha she is going to make us home made Yaki Soba or Spam musube. She totally helped us out with a small miracle that we experienced this week. So our new mission President, President Weaver (who is so RAD by the way. Awesomest mission president ever) really challenged us to do one act of service a day. Big or small. But that we will see miracles when we give service stemmed from the pure love of Christ. So the other day we were driving out of a neighborhood of a girl we just visited and taught a short lesson to. We turned on to a main road to drive to visit an elderly woman whose husband just passed away. It was maybe a 1 mintute drive. On the way, we saw a man on crutches hobbling down the road. I felt for the guy immediately. He was no where near anything. The town wasn't for at least another 2 miles. But we proceeded on to visit the elderly lady. She ended up not being home so we drove back out to the road we were on to try to visit another family. 10 minutes or so had passed from the time that we had first noticed the man and he had barely moved. Maybe 30 feet max. He had stopped to rest. It wasn't a particularly sunny or warm day but he was sweating and looked exhausted. Sister Mills goes, "Man, I feel for that guy" and we proceed down the road in the opposite direction. I watched him from the side mirror and felt like we needed to go back. "Stop," I said, "We need to go back and see if he needs our help." We flipped a U-turn and parked on the side of the road. As soon as she put the car in Park I ran out down the road to try to catch up after him, skirt and all. I asked him if there was anything we could do to help him. Knowing that we are not allowed to give rides to anyone in our car besides other missionaries or members, I tried to ask or offer services to him that didn't include a ride. Like "Do you need to use our cell phone?" "Where were you heading? We could go get you whatever you were going to get and bring it back to you?" "Would you like us to call someone for you?" But to him it just made sense to ask for a ride. He was planning on walking 4 miles into town to go to the grocery store to get some food. On crutches with a broken ankle and torn ligaments. I looked at my companion and realized I needed to make an instant judgment call about what we would agree to. I felt the Spirit prompting me to allow him to ride in our car and I told him "sure." He had on jean shorts, a long pony tail, facial scruff and a mustache. He looked pretty clean but at the same time this was a total stranger we were literally picking up from the side of the road. But the Spirit continued to whisper to me that this was ok. Sister Mills proceeded to move our stuff out of the backseat to make room for him, leaving me with him to have a brief conversation before we pulled out. Before I could even introduce myself or ask him his name he asked, "What church are you from?" My hair and scarf was covering up my name tag so I had no idea how he knew who we were." I pulled my hair back and pointed to "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" that was engraven upon a piece of plastic that I wear over my heart. "Oh, he said. You're Mormon? I met some sister missionaries 5 years ago. I didn't really have any interest in religion at the time, but I didn't want to be rude so I let them in." Next thing I know, we are off and on our way to the store. He obviously needed a ride home so Sister Warner agreed to drive her car with us inside to go pick him up an hour or so later from the store. When we dropped him off there were almost tears in his eyes. He said that countless cars passed him that day and he was just wishing one would stop and even just offer him help. Never did he expect that two young ladies in skirts and with missionary name tags would be the ones to pull over and offer help. It was the best rule breaking experience I have had yet while on my mission. He said that he had been attending AA type meetings at a church in a neighboring town and was delighted to hear that our church building had an Addiction Recovery Group of our own. He said he would love to check it out and even has an interest in coming to church!! Miracles through service. Heavenly Father blessed us that day and I will never forget that.
So many other things I am forgetting and want to tell you but that will have to wait until next week. I love you all so much!