Monday, December 26, 2011

Sister Melly's Post Christmas Posting

Dearest Family,

Not much to say today. I guess I did just see you last night! Not much has happened this last week- just sent sister K off to home and then a couple days running around with Sister Wilson in Elmwood and then a couple days of taking care of my companion. Not much to report. Sister Askren received news last night that a man that she reactivated and whose wife she taught and was baptized soon after she left the area died of lung cancer and his funeral is tomorrow in Lincoln, so President gave us permission to go but that means that we have to cut three hours off of our p-day, so we are a little more rushed than usual. This week should be a better week. Sister Askren is almost better which means that we should be able to get out and do some real missionary work soon, which is exciting.
To send pictures, it would probably be easiest for me if you print them out and send them. I did the puzzle on a p-day (I wanted to do the whole thing, but decided I would get way too stressed about it because I didn't have a whole lot of time, as usual) and did the book while we were doing chat between chats and while we were waiting for the person to respond.
Hope you are having a great day! Love you! Thanks again for the Christmas presents. Love you again!
Sister Melly

Message from Sister Melly’s mom: We got to Skype with Sister Melly last night. She looks great and is happy. Her new companion, Sister Askren has two transfers left so Sister Melanie is planning on “killing” her too – I guess that means being her last companion and sending her home.  They are assigned to the Trail Center and Sister Lamb’s Oakview Ward.

They attended the Oakview Ward yesterday and then a Christmas dinner and then a party with the Trail Center Sister Missionaries and Senior Couples and then Skyped with us at 7:30 MST for 40 minutes. She told us that she got to talk to us one month after she entered the MTC (on her way to Omaha), then she talked to us three months later  (last night) and then we will hear from her in five months at Mother’s day and then seven months after that – next Christmas. We all see the 1-3-5-7 as a lucky pattern. All is well in the Corn (stubble) Field, so good to see her!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sister Melanie - Merry Christmas

Sister Melanie sent this on December 20 but I have been to Iowa City and Nauvoo for my niece, Jamie's wedding.  - Her mom

Dearest Family,
Love you!
This has been a crazy week, but more specifically, a crazy couple of days. I don't even know where to start. Sister Kusnerik hasn't been telling anyone in our ward that she is going home (well went home today), so last week when she starting revealing the news, everyone suddenly wanted to have us over for dinner. We have had more invitations than we could even handle.
On Monday, we had lunch with Sister Young and some of the other ladies from the ward and then had a FHE with the Young family that night. Brother Young, who was just released from the Bishopric, went in for surgery this Thursday to have a tumor removed from near his spine. During the FHE, it was clear that he was in a lot of pain. He could only sit still for a couple of minutes before he would have to shift positions to be able to deal with the pain. Before we went to teach them, we had felt prompted to talk about prayer, and as we discussed the answers that we have each seen to our prayers, we felt prompted to make them a promise, that if they would counsel with the Lord, especially in the next couple of days, that they would see miracles. We anxiously awaited to hear the results of the surgery on Friday. Since then, we have learned that Brother Young's tumor was cancerous, unlike they had thought. However, it was not touching any nerves but was sitting in the spinal cavity. Only 30 people have had this type of cancer before, and now he makes 31. They were able to completely remove all of the cancer and he will not have to do any chemotherapy or radiation. He is still very weak, but well on his way to recovery. I feel like, if nothing else, Sister Kusnerik and I needed to be in the Oakview Ward these last three months to provide opportunities for miracles to happen. We have seen several experiences where people, by keeping their end of the promise made to them, were able to see miracles in their situations. Those miracles were only able to happen because, through missionaries, Heavenly Father set the terms and gave them an opportunity to be blessed through their obedience. It scares me to think about what could have happened if any one of the people involved in these situations were not prepared and faithful to the promise given to them.
On Wednesday, we had another lunch appointment, this time with Sister Roads. Through some
miscommunication, we accidentally went to the wrong place to meet her and were not able to contact her because she does not have a cell phone. Since we were already in the area, we decided to go out to lunch ourselves at a place called Hu Hot, which is apparently very popular among many of the Elders. It turns out that what it is like a make your own stir-fry. You get a bowl, fill it with raw meat, vegetables, noodles, and sauces, then they stir fry it for you. But that is really not important. What the interesting thing was that as soon as we were seated, something felt kind of weird. As we went up the counter where they stir-fry the food, it was even more weird. The spirit was not there at all and we could feel it so strongly, but it was amazing how sensitive we were to it. The farther away we got from the counter, the better we felt, but it was clear that there was something going on there. Our best guess is that there are some major issues going on between the workers there or that one of them is involved in some very serious sins. We were fine, but it was just really crazy.
On Thursday, we went out to our area to go to an appointment, but as we were driving, found out that
the appointment had cancelled. As we were trying to decide what to do, we got a little lost and ended up near a trailer park in the area where a couple investigators and members live. We stopped outside of one of the member’s homes. I was about to tell Sister K that there would be no way she would be home because she works during the day, but I didn’t. When we knocked on the door, she was home. She had been having some troubles with insurance companies and one had called her at work and made her very upset, so she had left early. As usual, we just happened (well not really) to be at the right place at the right time. All I can say is that God is so aware of us. He is so aware of everything that is going on in our lives. I do not know how anyone can deny that there is a God or that this church is not true when we have so many experiences like this. It happens every day. I can't even tell you the number of times that we have been in the right place at exactly the right time. It is way too many to just be coincidence. There is no such thing as coincidence anyways.
Yesterday morning, I dropped Sister Kusnerik off at the mission office for her interview with President Kuntz and then headed off with Sister Wilson for district meeting. Everyone keeps asking me if I am so sad to see her leave. I feel bad for saying this but I really am not. I know that I have learned a lot from her and that she is a great missionary, but I am so ready for some change. With all of the preparations for her leaving, I feel like our dedication and obedience has really suffered. I am so excited to now be with Sister Wilson. She feels like the exact same thing has happened with her companionship, and we are both ready to rededicate ourselves and work our little tails off. The next couple of days are going to be awesome. I can feel it. Last night, we went to go check on a less-active in the Oakview ward. They were not home, so we started knocking doors in the same circle. We saw a woman walking her dogs and went to go talk to her, but she disappeared down a side walk with a fence on each side that extended between the homes and let through the backyards to another part of the subdivision. We started after her, but after 5 or 10 minutes, were not getting any closer to her and she was becoming aware of someone following her. We decided to stop so as not to scare her, and right after found a group a teenagers walking home from school. I guess that is why we were following her. We gave them cards and invited them to the gingerbread festival and then headed back to the car. It was hilarious.
Hope you are all preparing for a wonderful Christmas! I will talk to you soon!
As soon as I get my new companion on Thursday and we figure out when and where we are going to Skype, I will have one of the senior couple sisters call you and figure everything out.
Ok love you!
Sister Melly

These pictures and the one above of the Gingerbread Festival
from Sister Lamb's Mission Mom's Blog

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Treasures of the Trail Center - Posted by the Mission Mom of the Nebraska Omaha Mission - Sister Kunz

it is not the artifacts, the huge stuffed bison,
the lovely painting or displays...

these amazing seniors and sisters are our

'Trail Center Treasures'.

We appreciate their dedication

and love them with all our hearts!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sister Melan Type Cast as a Super Hero

December 12, 2011

Dearest Family,

We are having a discussion right now about how fast we type. I always look over at Sister Kusnerik's computer and she has a couple of pages written on her third or fourth email that she has written in our hour allotment. Then there is me. I can hardly write a short email to President Kunz, something in response to the email Mom wrote, and then write this email. It takes me forever. Maybe the hardest part is that I never know what to say and I start looking back at the past week and I feel like we didn’t do anything worth writing and then when my the time is almost gone  I find something to write about and type it out, there is no time left. Sister Proctor offered to type for me, but I an not sure I would know what to tell her to say or that she would think I was silly/ weird for writing the things that I wrote. Ha ha. Maybe by the end of my mission I will learn to be a faster typist. Probably not. Or maybe I will just learn how to pell words, because it seems that I am not doing a very good job at that. (Look, I didn't even spell the word spell right). That’s terrible.
This last week . . . what did we do? Nothing. Not a thing. It really doesn’t bother me that much that people don’t always want to listen to us or suddenly stop calling us back or whatever. I probably should care more. I have just come to expect it,  I think. You kind of start to feel when someone is losing interest or when you are starting to waste your time with someone, even if you haven't seen or talked to them. We literally just did not have any time in our area this last week. A lot of it has to do with things that Sister Kusnerik needs to get done, either in the Trail Center or in preparation for going home. As much as I have learned from her and grown and changed and have enjoyed being her companion, I am ready for something new, for a change. I think that she is too. Today, we have been doing some shopping for her for shoes and a new outfit to wear home. It is interesting to see her normal style, because it is not the same as her missionary style (obviously).
Let’s see, one very exciting thing that happened this week was that we were finally able to meet Julia’s dad. She is the girl who came up to her friend Matt and asked how to become a Mormon and has been coming to church ever since. Her dad was really nice, laid-back but responsible, and told us that she can do whatever she would like as long as she has seriously thought through it and knows exactly what she is getting into. So, it looks like we may be having a baptism very soon! Pretty exciting. Everyone else seems to be putting us off until after Christmas. I understand that. The holidays are a busy time for everyone and family should come first. Well, second I guess. After Christ. They just don't know it yet.
On Thursday, we had district meeting. We drove together from the church building to Olive Garden to have lunch for Sister K's last district lunch. We went around the table and each person told one thing that they admire about every other person. It took a little while, and I was really not on board at first, but it ended up being a really good experience. I think that it was exactly what a lot of the missionaries in our district needed. My favorite moment was that when they got to me, Sister K started singing "Sister Lamb keeps me safe from sin, Sister Lamb is the power to win, etc, and everyone joined in. Ha ha. It was great. Other great moment, while we were there, it started snowing and the roads were getting a little slippery. On the way back, we saw a car that had slid off the road, so we pulled over in our 12 passenger van and 8 elders piled out and pushed the car out, we handed them some pass along cards, jumped back in the van, and sped off. It was like some crazy, weird super heroes or something. They have not idea what hit them. Well I guess they do. The MORMONS! After we got our car, we went to the Old Mill sisters’ apartment to do training. While we were there, the cars were grounded, so we had a surprise sleepover there. It was a lot of fun. Sister Baker and I went to visit/ help a less active that lives near by and we read some talks and caught up on training that we had missed in the last couple of days. We are almost done! This week the last week of the 12 week training program, and then I am officially a trained missionary! Ah ha! Sister Baker and I also were writing in the snow as we went to the less active’s apartment. We wrote "Jesus loves you" in the snow, but we passed by a couple minutes later and someone had parked over the top of the J so it said "esus loves you". We also tried to write in cursive but I accidentally did cursive n’s instead of m's so it said nornon. It was a good try. Oh, and we made snow angels. And handed out some pass along cards and met some former investigators. It was great.
Well, that is all the time I have for this week.
Love you!
Sister Melan

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas in the Cornfield

Dear Family,
As always, I love you!

Mom- I got your second package right after I emailed you last week! Best package ever! I loved it so much. We went home and set up the tree right away. It is in our bedroom. So cute. The pillowcases are really cute too. I am going to give one of the extra ones to my secret Santa sister. I don't know what I am going to do with the other one yet. We will see. As soon as I pulled out the David Archuletta CD, we both got really excited and stuck it in my CD player to listen to until bed. I don't think that we have listened to any other CDs since I got it. We listen to it while we get ready in the morning, we listed to it while we are driving, and we took it up to the Trail Center and loaded it onto the computer that plays the music in the lobby so we can listen to it all day. Ha ha. We love it!

Wow. This week. I can hardly even remember what has happened but there has been a lot this week, I think. After I emailed last time, Beth and Sam Myers came to the Trail Center and we took them on tour. It was good. We talked a lot and she had some questions about repentance. They were both really tired, so that was the only struggle. We saw them again on Sunday for the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. Afterwards, we asked them what they thought. Sam didn't say much, but Beth could only nit-pick at things like that she thought the prophet's presentation style was creepy and that she didn't like the casting in the portions of the New Testament clips that they showed. Even when we tried to bring up the message of the devotional, she only wanted to criticize and argue with us. It was really sad to see. They are great and I love both of them so much, but Sister Kusnerik and I have both felt that we have done everything that we can for them. One day, I am sure that she will get baptized. But, she has some changes to make before she is going to be ready to accept the gospel.

Giant Gingerbread House at the Trail Center
On Friday, it was zone leader council, so all of the Trail Center trainers and the trainers that are training missionaries that just got here (well I guess almost a month ago) were in a meeting for most of the day. Of all the sisters who's companions were at the meeting, only one other sister and I were approved to drive, so I got to drive all over the place to pick people up and take them to the Trail Center and then return them afterwards. It was great. I love driving.

On Saturday, we had several awesome appointments lined up that we were super excited for, but while we were at the trail center in the morning, it started to snow. By noon, our cars had been grounded, so we could not go out to our area, so we had to cancel all of our appointments, which was sad. We did get to shovel the walks of the Trail Center until the Elders came to take over and then tromped down the beautiful snowy lanes by the Trail Center to get back to our apartments. It was gorgeous. We spent the rest of the day doing weekly planning and catching up on training that we had missed earlier in the week. By the end of the night, I was pretty sick of our apartment.

On Sunday, we got to have an amazing experience with a friend of one of the Young Women in our ward. We got a text on Saturday night from Bip (Elizabeth) asking if we could come to her house on Sunday night to meet one of her friends. The girl's name is Carol. She is a high school senior, dating a 25 year old (who was also there, although sleeping through a good part of the lesson). But anyway, we felt like we needed to teach her about the Plan of Salvation. As we taught, the lesson focused on our divine nature. It was so powerful. She opened up half way through the lesson that she had been in a very abusive relationship with someone else for almost three years and was very emotionally scarred from it. After we taught her about pre-earth life and our purpose in this life, we invited her to pray to ask God if He loves her. She did right then. The spirit was so strong and everyone involved was crying. It was amazing. We are meeting with her again this afternoon and I am so excited! She is a great girl and is starting to learn that. I know that God loves each of His children so much. I have been able to feel that so strongly while on my mission. He wants us to be happy and through Christ everything, be it mental or emotional or physical, can be healed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is so powerful. It can change people's lives so quickly when they truly understand it.

Well, time is slipping away from me as usual, so it is time to wrap up, although I feel like I have hardly written anything. Humbug.

It is starting to look a lot like Christmas here! I love looking at Christmas lights as we drive through the neighborhoods. It keeps me happy.

Love you!

 Sister Melly

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pictures of Sister Melanie and her Great-Great Grandparents

Sister Melanie at the graves of her Great Grandparents Benjamin Ricketts Morton and Mary Lucy Soper Morton

Sister Melanie and Sister Kusnerik

Brother Naylor - the Genealogist and Ancestor Locator Extraordinaire and Sister Melly 

Sister Melly Cleans the Trail Center

Sister Lamb's First Progressive Thanksgiving in Nebraska

Dearest Family,

Happy thanksgiving! I hope it was a fun one!

Cody- Big C- HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Sorry it is a day late and not much to speak of, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY none the less.

Mom- I got one package from you, but the second one hasn't come yet. Thank you for the new camera. I was worried that I would not be able to take any pictures during the holiday season, but it looks like I will be just fine. I am copying all my pictures to the drive you sent me and I will send it in the mail sometime today or tomorrow morning. Cross my heart.

This has been a great week! Last Wednesday was exchanges (like for reals, full day exchanges). I was with Sister Ford. We ended up car fasting because the Trail Center was closing early, which meant more sisters going out to their areas, which means more sisters needing cars, so we did a lot of walking. It was a beautiful day. I think that it was in the 60's about, so lots of people were out doing yard work, so there were lots of people to talk to. We stopped to eat dinner and sat on the curb right next to some apartments and watched the sunset. It was lovely. Then as it got darker, Christmas lights started turning on (a day early, I know). We were in a richer area, so there were lots of big light displays. We would always stop and knock on the doors of the people that had light displays to tell them how much we enjoyed it and at least invite them to the gingerbread festival at the Trail Center. I enjoyed doing some walking, but I am sure grateful for having a car.

On Thursday, it was Thanksgiving of course. We had three Thanksgiving dinners to go to. The first was with the Piercys in Boy’s Town. We were there with Brother and Sister Piercy, their son Nick, their six Boy’s Town boys, and some of the boys families. It was such a neat experience. We got to meet all of the boys, talk to their families, and take a tour of their house (which includes a separate apartment for the Piercys). Before we ate, everyone went around and shared what they are grateful for. Then, a couple of the boys shared a little bit of their stories of why they are at Boy's Town and what it has done for them. Several of these boys literally have no one. They will be in Boy's Town until the graduate from high school because there is no one for them to go back to. Their parents have either died, are in jail, or have completely abandoned them. What is wonderful though is that there was a couple there that the husband used to be a teacher a Boy's Town and is now a entrepreneur and donor to Boy's Town. They come about once a week to take one of the boys, Spike, out to lunch or do something fun with him. I got to talk to them for a while about their involvement in Boy’s Town and various things. They are great people. What was really cool was that even though we were not allowed to proselytize while we were there, they recognized that there was something different about us and even commented on it. That was pretty cool. After dinner, we played pool with a couple of the boys. It is absolutely amazing how Boy's Town changes their lives. Every one of them was so polite and respectful. It is amazing how these kids can change so much when given the means and the opportunity to change. I really believe that everyone is capable of great things, regardless of the background that they have come from. That is the power of the Atonement, but first they have to believe in themselves and that they can be that person. That often takes the faith of others as well.

After Thanksgiving #1, we went to the Batins for another meal. Both Sister Kusnerik and I felt like we might throw up by the end of this meal, but we were fine. We had a great time with the Batins as well. Unfortunately, their table in only big enough for four people and there are eight of them plus the two of us, so everyone but us and Brother and Sister Batin got kicked to the living room. This was especially unfortunate because all the Batins kids are less-active, so we really would have liked to spend more time with them. Next, we went to pick up the West Maple Sisters from one of their members homes. When we got there, they insisted that we come eat dinner with them. I just had to take it one mouthful at a time with long pauses between each. I have never eaten so much in my life, but I think that Heavenly Father blessed me to be able to eat more. Yikes. Then, On Thursday, the Gills fed us Thanksgiving dinner #4. They were eating a day late so that their married daughter, whose husband is not a member, could be there. Sister Kusnerik could not come because she had to do Trial Center stuff, so I took Sister Bergeson and we had a great time. They are hilarious. But that was the last official dinner, but of course every meal since then has also been Thanksgiving because we have been eating the leftovers and will continue eating the leftovers for at least the rest of this week.

The Trail center has been really busy with Gingerbread Festival this week. Something like 600 people were here on Saturday, so trying to juggle tours and greeting people as they come in and offering Christmas DVDs to people has been interesting. Lots of families coming in, unfortunately, some parents want their kids to learn about the pioneers while they are at it, but the kids are just interested in gingerbread and refuse to be interested. But then, it also brings in lots and lots of people who have never heard of the Trail Center before, so it is all good.

The weather is starting to get a little chillier, but sometimes I don’t even wear a coat if we are not going to be outside for too long. On Thanksgiving, it was 70 degrees! Amazing!
Well, time is up!

Love you again and again and again!
Sister Melly

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Elder Golden Visits the Cornfield and the Trail Center Prepares for the Holidays

Dearest Family,

I love you!

This last week was pretty great, with only one exception that I can think of right now. We went to the Trail Center to do chat, and after we had been down there for a couple of hours, one of the other sisters came in with a terrible look on her face and held up my camera. I was confused, but then took a closer look at it and saw that it was bent in half and the screen was completely broken. I guess someone found it in the parking lot. It looks like it had been run over by a car. So, add that to my Christmas list. The SD card is fine, so at least I still have the pictures, but I feel like this is just the fate of my cameras. Something happens every time.

Elder Golden of the 70 was in town with us this week doing a mission tour. On Tuesday night, he came into the Trail Center to take a tour. We had about an hour's heads up in which time Sister Vanderdoes was asked to take the tour and we all got all ready for him to come. And then waited. And waited. No one came. Not even other visitors. We were all just pacing around and watching out the window to the parking lot to see if anyone was coming. A couple hours later, they finally arrived. We shook his hand, they disappeared into the gallery, we shook his hand again, and they were gone.

Sister Lamb's First Zone - with Elder Golden
Sister Melanie is the 5th from the right on back row
The next day, we had Zone Conference. The day began with all the missionaries lining up in the hall and Elder Golden and his wife greeting each person. It probably took 45 minutes for this to happen because they spent time with each person. Elder Golden told Sister Kusnerik and me that we have a "powerful companionship". The rest of the day was spent being instructed by the Elder Golden, as well as some inserts by President Kunz and the wives. It was an amazing day. One of my favorite things that he told us was that "When you decide to follow the Spirit in everything you do, don't expect an easy ride. Buckle your seat belts. You will do lots of things that you don't understand. The Spirit works in a differnt way. It is not always rational to us." He also taught us that personal righteousness=faith. When your personal righteousness increases, your faith automatically increases as well. Also, there are lots of things that we will have to do that are right, but that we don't want to do. We are never more noble than when doing something we don't want to do, but is right. Christ did not want to experience the pains and sicknesses of all of God's children and take their sins upon Him. It was not easy or enjoyable, but He did it because he needed to, because it was what Heavenly Father required of Him. That is a couple tidbits of what we learned. It was literally a spiritual feast.

That night, we watched 17 Miracles again, this time with the YW and YM for their mutual activity. It is such a powerful movie and the kids loved it. We have had a ton of response from them about how that movie has changed so much for them. They view the gospel differently because they understand better what the pioneers sacrificed for it. Several of the YW have also told us that they want to serve missions. The spirit of missionary work is really starting to spread through the ward.

I am really starting to love the Trail Center. We decorated for Christmas this week. We have a big Christmas tree in the front lobby and garlands throughout the whole gallery. Downstairs, the Gingerbread Festival is going in full force. You can smell it throughout the whole building. Many of the displays were done by Primary or YW groups, but there are lots of people that really put their whole heart and soul into gingerbread. I will send you some pictures when I get a camera and figure out how to send pictures. Ha ha. I keep thinking about it, but thinking just doesn't get anyone very far.

This week is Thanksgiving. Sister Kusnerik keeps telling me that holidays are the best on your mission, but that has yet to be proved, and I am feeling rather doubtful, but we will see. I think it is more likely that I will spend each holiday with a stomach ache. On Thursday, we are going to have dinner with the Piercys at Boys Town. All of their kid’s families are coming to have dinner as well, so there will be lots of people there. We are really excited about it. From there, we are going to the Batin's for dinner #2. Then, on Friday, we are having dinner with the Gills, who are having Thanksgiving a day late so their whole family can be there. I will probably gain 10 pounds this weekend just from that and leftovers.

Well, that is all the time I have for now, so I am off, but just one last I love you!

I love you!

Sister Melly

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sister Melly in Trail Center Training and Trail Center Run

Sister Melanie (the tall one in the back) at Trails Center Visitor Training
 - taken off her mission mother's blog

More Sister Melly - second from the left - at Trail Center Training
Half of a Sister Melly on the right

Sister Melly at the Trail Center Run in October -
She is hiding second from the right

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sister Melly - Exchanges and Trail Center Marathon

Dear Family,
Love you!
This week has been another week of . . . . You guessed it, exchanges! Tuesday was P-day, Wednesday we were only together for a couple of hours and then in the Trail Center at night. Wednesday I went on exchanges with Sister Monson, who had just gotten transferred in from Grand Island and was disappointed to say the least about not getting to spend the evening in the Trail Center. Thursday, I went on exchanges with Sister Pinchak (my MTC companion). Because we have been out the same amount of time, which meant that I got to be the Senior Companion for the day! Really all that this meant was that I got to drive, which was awesome! I was a little bit worried that I had forgotten how, but it was no problem and I found out that I actually know my way around our area pretty well. It was really nice to be back with Sister Pinchak. We work really well together, so that was nice. Saturday, I spent thirteen and a half hours at the Trail Center while Sister Kusnerik was doing training for the new sisters. That was a really long day. Everyone keeps telling me that the reason I keep going on so many exchanges is to prepare me to be a trainer next transfer. Yikes. That’s pretty scary but a definite possibility. This past week (transfer week) we got four new sisters: Sister Baker, Sister Arnold, Sister Graham, and Sister Davis. Three of them are being trained by sisters who just finished their twelve weeks of training. Sister Kusnerik and I will be staying together in the Oakview Ward for another transfer, which will be her last. So, I know that for sure I will be getting a new companion after this transfer.
This last week, we went to lunch with a family in our ward, the Piercys. They work/ live at Boy's town, which is in the boundaries of our area. Boy's Town is like its own little community except the only people that live there are troubled teenagers and the adults that take care of them. The Piercys are parents to these kids and live in a home with them inside of the Boy's Town boundaries. They often have to sacrifice coming to church so that their kids can go to their own churches. We talked a lot about how their jobs have a lot to do with the Atonement, repentance, forgiveness, change, etc. I really respect them for the work they are doing and for the difference they are making in the lives of these kids. Then, I started to realize how what they are doing is a lot like what we are doing as missionaries, just in a slightly different setting. That's pretty awesome. Go! Go change lives.
The other day, I got to have a really amazing experience at the Trail Center. A young family with a 3-year old boy and 1-year old girl came in with the wife’s mother. When I asked what had brought them into the Trail Center, they quickly responded “Oh, just the bathroom.” As we continued talking, they mentioned that they had an ancestor buried in the cemetery that they had come to see. I guess that they were just planning on going over by themselves, but I offered my help. I showed them the map of the cemetery and explained how to find the grave. They were about to leave when I felt like I should go with them. As we walked across the street, the wife seemed very hesitant to answer any of my questions. All of a sudden, she just opened up to me. She told me that about a month ago, they lost a daughter, the twin of their 1-year-old, because of heart failure. As they were dealing with this loss, she had found a copy of the journal of her ancestor whom she had been named after. As she read the journal, she discovered that the ancestor had also lost a child, Don Carlos, while in Winter Quarters. The ancestor had two other children, one named Lucy. Lucy was also the name of the 1-year old that just died. While reading the journal, she had developed a strong connection to her ancestor and was now coming to pay homage to her and the son that died here. I helped them plot out where the grave would have been and we sat and talked about the strength and sacrifice of our ancestors for us to have the gospel today. We also talked about the temple and eternal families. The Spirit was so strong. It was amazing.
Ok love you!
We are going to be spending the rest of the day today just writing letters and catching up on journal writing, so you can expect to hear more from me later this week. (Although maybe I shouldn't be saying this in case something happens! Ha ha!)
Ok love you again!
Sister Melly

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A few pictures of Sister Lamb - in the MTC and the Cornfield

Last Sunday at the MTC
Blanket Time in the MTC

Visitor's Center District at MTC

Sister Kusnerik -Sister Lamb -Sister Rhodes -Sister Coats
Old Mill Sisters (Saturday Sleepovers)
Outside the Winter Quarters Temple

Pumpkin Pancated with the Old Mill Sisters

Birthday... Birthday...Blurry

Sister Lamb is so cute on her Birthday

Yay for (corney) Socks and Packages. Happy Halloween!

Not a Great Picture but so Pretty. Night Falls on the Cornfield.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

First Snow on the Cornfield

Hello Family!


This past week has been a crazy one! All the days really blend together, but I guess they kind of do that anyways. Sister Kusnerik and I have hardly been together all this week and we have not been able to spend very much time in our area. Monday was P-day, of course. On Tuesday, we had exchanges with the Greenview Sisters, who we used to live with until they moved to their area in Iowa so they could save miles on their car. I was with Sister Shelly. Exchanges are really stressful because the junior companion kind of becomes the senior companion for a day because they are the ones that know the area they are in. Yikes! We spent a lot of the day knocking on doors and talking to people, but not a whole lot happened, but I guess we got some exercise and it was nice to be outside because it was a nice day. On Wednesday, we had district meeting and then worked in the Trail Center, which I was very grateful for because it snowed! Big huge flakes that were super wet. We had the Elders pull up our cars right next the building for us as we were leaving district meeting. We are teaching them to be good husbands one day. Ha ha!

On Thursday, we ended up going on exchanges again (usually we only have exchanges once a transfer), so Sister Askren came with me. We working the Trail Center in the morning, after which Sister Askren was sick, so we stayed at the Trail Center and I had another sister come with me to our appointment that we had that night. That is one blessing of the Trail Center, especially during the winter when it is getting slower. If one companion is sick, you can usually find one extra person to go out on exchanges with you so that you do not just have to sit around waiting for your companion to feel better.

On Friday, we had exchanges day three. Sister Kusnerik had to be at Zone Leader council, so I went out with Sister Atkin this time. People keep saying how miracles always happen on exchanges, but I had yet to see one after two days of exchanges. After trying to check on a few people and not having a lot of luck, we headed to a trailer park in the area with a whole list of former potentials and former investigators to check on. As we headed to the first address, we found a referral for the Spanish Elders before finding the right address. The man was home and although he did not seem very interested at first, with a little coaxing he opened right up and came out onto his front porch where we taught him a lesson. Two miracles! So awesome.

Sister Kusnerik and I got to spend all day Saturday and Monday in the area together, which was great and Sunday we spent in the Trail Center and at church. So, overall, an eventful but then not very eventful week.

Well, I guess that’s about it! Sorry I have not been writing very many letters lately. I should be writing some tonight. We frequently have district activities or other things going on with other Sisters or try to do something fun or go shopping (winter coming!) and don't have very much time left for anything else. P-day typically lasts from 10 am (after studies) to 6 pm, at which we are expected to be out in our area working. This week, we had district meeting this morning until 1 so we now have the rest of the night for p-day. We are going to clean our apartment and hopefully have some time for letter writing. (I have a lot to catch up on!) Elder Golden of the Seventy is coming next week for Stake Conference/Mission Tour, so we have to be ready for apartment checks.

Love you!

Sister Melly

Wow, I keep thinking that I need to write shorter emails, but I think that they actually are getting longer. I will work on that.

I am at the Naylor's house right now doing our emailing. They took us to see great grandma and grandpa (on mom’s side) Morton in the cemetary that is not too far from their house. I have some pictures, but I am still working on how to send them to you. I printed some off last week and will send them in the mail tomorrow. Then we went to Target and got some groceries. I looked at boots because I don’t have any yet, but didn't see much. We will go looking again next week. I told Elder Naylor that you got the package. I just gave him my pedigree chart and he did all of it himself in less than a week. He does it for all of the sisters who are serving in the Trail Center. He gave me a copy of the book and the big chart (I assume you got that too, if not, it should be on its way) for me to have here and then made another copy to send home. And then paid for it it to be sent! They must spend a fortune doing it all, but we all are very fortunate. We don't get to work on indexing, but we have offered to do pedigree charts for a couple different people, so hopefully someone will tell me how to get started on that for them :). One of the members in the Oakview ward in big on indexing so I told her about our indexing sessions.

Love you!

Sister Melly

Sister Melly answers questions:

Is your apartment complex a large one?

There are three sections to the building, with three stairwells. . Each section has three floors with four apartments on each floor, so 36 apartments.

Are the units like your condo last year at school?

Size wise, yes, but they are very sparsley furnished, which is fine. We don’t spend a whole lot of time there at all.

Does the Church own it or do they just lease part of it?

They just rent like 5 apartments- one senior couple, us, two set of elders, two sets of sisters,and a single set of sisters.

Are you and Sister Kusnerik in the apartment alone or has another companionship moved in?

We are still alone

Do you have a set schedule at the Trail Center or is it different every week?

It is different every week.

Are you there on Sundays?

We always work on Sundays- either from 12:30 to 9 or 12:30 to 5, every other week


Are you scheduled so you can go to your ward?

Yep. They make sure that everyone can attend their ward or wards (one set of sisters cover two wards, so they attend both wards each week)

How is your area going?

Its going fine. We just haven't had a lot of time in the area this last week, but the time we have had had been great!

Is this week transfers?

Sure is! The new missionaries should have gotten here today and we will have transfer calls tomorrow morning. We are pretty sure that Sister Kusnerik and I will not be going anywhere.

Did you do the genealogy?

I do not know anything more about geneology than I did when I left, which is nothing. Elder Naylor is amazing at it. I would call him professional, but not technically - he is very involved in it though. He is doing a workshop next weekend for investigators and whoever we want to invite, so if we find someone to go, we can go with them!

Have I told you that Katie and Cody are coming here for Christmas?

Yes! Hooray! Why did they decide to do that?

You can talk to us all at once. Can you SKYPE?

We do SKYPE.

How are JJ and her husband doing?

I actually have not seen them in a while. They were not at church this last Sunday. They are so great. Just really great people. I have heard that the gospel has completely turned her in a 180 and that he was less active before, so things are changing for them in a great way.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sister Melanie does her Genealogy and Meets her Ancestors

This morning we found a precious book on our front porch. It had pictures of Sister Melly and a lot of genealogy work - charts, pioneer stories and histories, pictures of graves and markers. The pictures of Sister Melly show her with a gigantic pedigree chart and  at the grave site with the relative, Mary Ann Grant. that is buried at Winter Quarters. One picture of the grave sites shows the Winter Quarters Monument in the background and the other shows the Winter Quarters Temple in the background. There is also a picture of the plaque with Mary Ann Grant's name engraved. There was note in the front of the book from Elder Bill Naylor, it said: "Hope you all enjoy this family and pioneer information."

Thank you Elder Naylor and Sister Melly!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sister Melan in a Pumpkin Patch

Dear Family,

I hope you are having a good Halloween! Halloween has never been my favorite holiday, although you might question why, but it almost seems a relief not to have to worry about finding a costume or feeling guilty for not having one. The only thing that is Halloween-ish that I have done is eat the cookies that you sent me and make pumpkin pancakes and watch other missionaries carve a pumpkin. So, mostly just eat things. I guess we have also been taking note of the different levels of people decorating their houses for Halloween and asking little kids what they are dressing up as, but really it has just been sliding by fairly unnoticed. Tonight, we are not allowed to be out on the streets or use our cars at all, so all the sisters are having a party in the Trail Center. It should be fun! It always is when we get all of the sisters together :) That is one thing that I love about being in a Visitor's Center, we get to be around the other sisters a lot and strengthen and support each other.

Sister Kusnerik and I have been learning a lot this week about attitudes towards missionary work, a lot from Elders. Elders just have a completely different approach to missionary work a lot of the time. Sisters tend to get caught up in expecting themselves and others to achieve perfection and making themselves miserable and extremely stressed in the process. It seems that Elders take a more relaxed approach: understanding the importance of the work but also acknowledging that they do not have to be perfect. That as long as they are trying their hardest, that's ok! When I asked one of the Elders what his one piece of advice to Sisters is, he told me that it is to be yourself. Wow. That's so true. Being a missionary doesn't mean you suddenly morph into a different person. It just means that you are (rapidly) building upon the traits you already have to become more Christ-like. That way, when you return home, you have built yourself to be a better person instead of building on a pretend foundation that disappears when you leave your mission. It also means that you do not have to completely tear down the person you were before your mission. On top of this, I learned from Sister Kunz to find the good in everything. When she came out with us on Thursday, our first appointment cancelled. The only thing she said was to comment on how nice it was to be outside in the fresh air. When something happens that you cannot change or cannot control, there is no point in dwelling on it. Just move on. She also told us that as long as we feel like we are trying to do our best in missionary work, at the end of the day, God is looking down on us and is proud. He loves us and wants to reward us, not he is annoyed by us and is disappointed when we are not perfect.

Last night, we were able to have an amazing experience with a less active from our ward and his girlfriend. When we went to visit them last night, they were very sweet to invite us in and fed us cookies and milk. As we started talking, she quickly revealed that she is agnostic and has been since she was a teenager (now in her 50's). He stopped going to church after his first wife and he were divorced and he felt that a lot more emphasis was put on him because of the priesthood whereas his daughter and ex-wife were largely ignored. Since then, they have been visited many, many times by groups from our ward. They were very sweet to us, but did not seem particularly interested in learning or developing their faith. As we talked, they started to open up to us more and more until he accidentally shared with us a piece of confidential information that she did not want shared. Although the situation seemed a little treacherous at first, it turned out to be a great blessing as we reassured her and built a relationship of trust with them. At one point, she asked us about our limited communication with family members while we are on missions. We explained that the price that we pay by leaving our families is small compared to the reward that we get to help others be with their families for eternity. She was very touched. "Wow. You would do that for me?" By the end of the appointment, she had gone from not believing in God to strongly desiring to have greater faith and to learn more about the gospel. We committed them to pray together every night, which it turns out is something that he had been wanting to do for a long time. We promised them great blessings if they would have that faith. They tried to tell us multiple times that we did not understand the magnitude of the blessings we were promising, that it would be huge. I felt it so strongly. I know that if they follow through with their commitment that they will be so blessed. My heart yearns for them to have that.

Sorry for the length of this message! I just love this couple so much and am so appreciative for the experience we were able to have last night. I am really starting to love the Oakview area. I know that there are good people there that are prepared; they are just taking a little time to find.

Love you!

Sister Melly