I have a feeling this is going to be one of my longer emails. There is so much to tell!
So, after a long drive, like an hour to Green Bay and another 4 hours in the truck with Sister Dunlap, I made it to Marquette!! Look out, drivers of Michigan, here comes Sister Woods!
First of all, my new companion, Sister Dunlap, is awesome!!!! She just finished being trained but she is an amazing missionary already! We have so much in common! Including, our boots!!! And the same shoe size, too. That was the first thing we noticed. :D She is from Reno, Nevada (another Nevadan!). She's 19, (just over a year younger), she's a twin, and she plays the saxophone!!! We both love music. And she wants to learn to play the cello! Her sister is a music ed major and is learning it right now so she's very curious. I told her that I would teach her if she will teach me about martial arts. Haha! She may look sweet and innocent, but oh no, she is pretty much a ninja warrior. She carries daggers and a pen around with her that can definitely kill a person. I definitely feel safe walking around with her! :D She wants to be in the marines one day. She's flown a plane and has done all sorts of amazing things. We are both allergic to cashews!!!! Blue is both of our favorite color. My favorite things are froyo, cellos and the Gospel. Hers are identical except with the saxophone instead of the cello! She's very sweet and I really like her!!! This is what she said: "I'm like a browner version of you!!!!" xD Bahaha. She's half Phillipino. It's really true, though. We have similar personalities, I think. There are more similarities but that's all I can think of for right now. Oh, and we are both terrible cooks. XD
I may be "greenie breaking" her but she is Wisconsin-breaking me! Okay, I've never seen this much snow in my entire life!!!! We have a truck, by the way, which is HIGHLY necessary! It snows here. Then it snows some more. And some more, and oh, ALL THE TIME!!!! If I were to accumulate all the snow I've ever seen in my entire life, there would still be a WHOLE LOT more here! So driving. I can't see where the lanes are. This is Sister Dunlap: "You're on the median!!" " You're in a turn lane!!" "Don't slow down or we'll die!!!" haha! She can't drive because she doesn't have her license with her anymore. I have no idea how to drive in snow! I'm a desert girl! I've never driven in 4 wheel drive. And, most of the roads are unpaved here. It's like a crazy Indiana Jones-type experience. :) and it's TERRIFYING because the snow is so bad you can't even see a thing in front of you. Seriously, it was like a blinding white sheet is placed in front of my eyes!! #jesustakethewheel. xD
We weren't able to go outside at all on Saturday because there was a blizzard!! We weren't allowed to drive at all! All the freeways closed. Except before that, we did go to the Elder's baptism. It was a great turnout, all things considered. The Elders have lots and lots of college students to teach and we have a nice handful as well. There are these 3 Powerpuff girls that are awesome! (that is what I've decided to call them). They have discovered my blog so they can totally read this right now! So these girls are freshman in college and they all three decided to get baptized recently! Like, a couple months ago. And they've been on fire ever since, inviting their friends to church and meet the missionaries. Did I mention that two of them play the cello? (I need to get a hold of one of those...) They are really fun and they rock! One wants to serve a mission. Tanner, the one the Elder's baptized, was one of those friends. :) We get to go to institute here!!!
Anyway, we weren't allowed to drive anywhere but we were able to zero in on our area book and do some hard-core scouring. We came up with a giant "go and see" list of part-member families, potentials and formers. We definitely need to find more people to teach! The problem is that we have a ginormous area here and not many members. We spend most of our day in the truck driving. We don't have the miles to see all our investigators regularly. The houses are all super far apart and there is a mountain of snow between each one. We only get to see a couple people and teach a couple lessons each day because of this. Oh, and there are tons and tons of little churches here (including JW's). So, Marquette is very, very different from the other areas I've served! It's a fun challenge, though. :)
Next, is our apartment. So normally we would live with members but since Sis. Dunlap is allergic to cats, we live in the Elders stinky apartment. That's right, it smells like cigarette smoke and weed! haha. But it's alright, I guess. I'm not complaining or anything, it's been a great adventure but there have been many challenges this week! One of which is that we didn't have any food. So we had some interesting meal experiences. We may or may not have been starving and eaten an entire pizza! Bahaha. I also lost my name tag in the snow (not to worry I have another one.) All our appointments cancelled. We forgot about a few things and had a bit of craziness with scheduling one of the days (I'm not used to being in charge of everything and she isn't super comfortable with the area yet!!) I'm not phased by any of it, though. I've learned over the course of my mission that with the Lord's help I can and will handle anything and everything that comes my way. So can we all! :) #allthingsthruchrist. Our lesson was about being happy amidst trials, ironically!
I really love the people here. Both of us are pretty new here so I will need to work extra hard to form relationships with them but overall, in spite of all these challenges, it has been a pretty smooth transition!! I feel very happy and comfortable here, although if Heavenly Father wanted to make it 60 degrees warmer I'd be okay with that. :P
Oh, we had to teach Relief Society on Sunday! We found out the morning of and we didn't get to look over the lesson until 5 minutes before. #welcometotheward! :P It was a great church, actually. Only half of the usual 80 showed up because of the crazy blizzard. Our ward actually includes the Germfasc area as well (sacrament meeting gets broadcast to them over the TV). Anyway, the lesson actually went quite well, considering how impromptu it was! It was totally chill. I'm so thankful for the Spirit who helps me know what to say when I have no idea what to say!! He somehow supplied us with enough to talk about for the entire time. Sister Dunlap and I have great unity!! #tacoboutjesus. Did I mention what an awesome missionary she is?? We make a great team!!!
And now for my favorite part of Marquette. Free froyo. That's right! The Bishop is a doctor (cool!) and owns a frozen yogurt place called "Yoophoria." It's really fancy! And, missionaries get free froyo on p-days! I was so freaking excited when I heard about that! I feel like I was destined to serve here!!!
Here's a little bit about the people we're teaching. There's Sophia who is a college student. She's a writing major and is taking a religious writing class. She requested to meet with missionaries because she wants to discover her spirituality. So, she asked us to present to her a profile of Jesus Christ. Of course, He is our favorite to talk about, so we leapt for joy and grabbed all our favorite Jesus pics and went to town with this lesson. It was so much fun talking about His amazing attributes and character. We told her that, of course, the best and ultimate way to get to know Christ is by reading the Book of Mormon! She really wanted to come to church this week but the crazy freeway-closing blizzard prevented that. I really think they need to change the Standard of Truth. "Persecutions may rage, SNOW may combine, blizzards may assemble, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly and independent..." Haha!
We are also teaching a girl named Aubrey. Also a college student. She is a business major, very, very smart. She has friends that have encouraged her to meet with missionaries. I used the marvelous Plan of Salvation kit my wise mother sent me and it was a smashing success! I think it was among the best lessons I've ever had on my mission. The Spirit was strong. We were bold. Aubrey asked great questions, and really enjoyed the visual. It was my understanding that she was very all over the place, asking crazy questions to throw us off, that type of thing. Well, this lesson she was very focused and attentive and really seemed to enjoy it! It answered lots of her questions and she agreed to baptism, which she hasn't before. Cool!!
There's one more person. Then after that, everyone else is too far away and I don't know them yet. :) So there's Jack. He is older, a recent convert, but he's struggling with some addictions (smoking and coffee.) He is the nicest guy and has been teaching us the "Uper language." Haha! It is a totally different culture up here. Kind of crazy. Anyway, we had a great lesson with him. I don't know if any changes will be happening with him anytime soon. Missionaries have been working with him since forever ago but he wants to quit these things. Anyway I had a marvelous experience because it was one of those occasions where I'm sitting in a lesson and have no idea what to say or contribute. But then I felt the Spirit prompt me to testify of the power of the word of God (D&C 6:2) and how it is far more powerful than the lures of the adversary, than any craving known to man. So I did! It was awesome. Sis. Dunlap and I were both super bold in inviting him to immerse himself in the scriptures and come to church. anyway, he later texted us that night and told us that he really likes me and that we teach well together and that "Sister Woods sure brought the spirit tonight. It was so strong and I felt it!" It was very nice of him to say but I'm here to tell you that wasn't my thought! It was all the Spirit. :P
One more thing. There is an Indian reservation here!!! So cool. I thought that that would include Tee-pees but it doesn't!!! Bahaha. xD
I will include more pictures when I can get a hold of them!
In conclusion I want to say that I know that the challenges we face are meant to refine us! I have seen that so much in my life and I know that we need never face our challenges alone!! Christ stands ready to strengthen and uplift us through our trials and if we endure them well and give Him our will, that with His help, they will shape us into the people we need to become!
I love you all!!!