Madeleine sent me a letter with the chorus to “Living on a Prayer,” which fit this week perfectly: “whoa, we’re half-way there, whoa, living on a prayer…”
It made me laugh because it’s totally perfect and true – so much prayer goes into missionary work. The idea of wearing your knees out on a mission is a real thing!
In other news, I was transferred back to Mission Hills on Tuesday, which was a huge surprise. Even bigger surprise is my companion – Sister Flake is one of the ASL sisters who is completely deaf. Talk about a learning curve for yours truly! And the biggest surprise – I learned a variation of ASL, so I am having to relearn a LOT of what I knew. Luckily Sister Flake is incredibly patient as I try to figure it all out and learn more. We’ve had a ton of hilarious moments this week as we’ve tried to figure things out. Contacting at night is impossible because she can’t see to read people’s lips, and interpreting is pretty much null and void because of how dark it is, so we often do our language study in the evening so we can make the most of our daylight hours. I’ve determined that her alarm clock is terrifying because it’s ridiculously loud, vibrates against the metal of the bed, and always gives me a heart attack in the morning. Nothing like a little bit of cardio straight out of bed, right?
I’m now understanding why President Hall gave me the look he did right before giving me my assignment. In the mission, it’s pretty strange. But then again, but ‘normal’ standards, my mission has been nothing but strange! Trained a Korean sister, trained a Polynesian sister, am companions with a deaf sister, and have had a new companion almost every single transfer, been pulled out of 2 areas unexpectedly because they were being whitewashed… but it makes for an interesting life, honestly.
It’s so strange being back in my first area, the area that I trained in. It’s so familiar, but the boundaries have changed, so it’s a bit different. The ward is still the same, which is cool. Some people remember me, some don’t at all. It makes it weird when I’m having to introduce myself and avoid being redundant. I got the biggest hugs from some of the Relief Society sisters, which made my day. Sister Ryane took us out to dinner on my second night here, and it was awesome to be able to catch up with her and what happened in the nine months that I was gone. We were also able to stop by and see Esmeralda and Miguel one evening! They’ve both grown so much since I was here in October. Miguel prayed before he left, and just melted my heart; he prayed in gratitude for Heavenly Father bringing me back to them in Mission Hills. It was the sweetest thing. In a few weeks he will be receiving the Aaronic priesthood, and will be able to pass the sacrament. I am so proud of him and Esmeralda for their courage and faith.
The zone is pretty weird too. I’ve gotten to the point that I’ve served with most of the missionaries before, so it’s definitely a different dynamic. Also, we have three sets of missionaries in the Mission Hills ward, which is pretty chaotic. Our district is made up of only our ward and the Granada Hills ward, so there are 4 sisters and 6 elders: Elder Nielson (we were in the same MTC district), Elder Lee (served in this zone together before), Elder Sautia and Elder Hawker (served with them in Canoga Park), and then Elder Holdaway (district leader) and Elder Benjamin. Then there are a lot of elders I have served with previously down here too. It makes for a good spirit of unity when missionaries know each other well and understand how each of us work – it’s such a blessing.
The last nine months have been incredible, and I’m so thankful for the opportunities that I have had here in California. It’s not an ‘exotic’ mission, but it certainly is extraordinary. I have seen so many miracles and blessings, and have learned far more than I thought possible these past months. I have been so blessed to work with various companions, ward members, and investigator in Mission Hills, Chatsworth, and in Solemint, and to work with my mission leaders. I can’t even explain it well enough to be able to express it via email. I wish I could though!
I know it’s a short email this week, but know that I love you so much and am so thankful for your support and encouragement. It means the world to me!