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!