Email from November 17, 2014
I can't believe I have been out six months on Friday! It's crazy to think of that and to think that I have one year left before I come home! A sister I came out with mentioned how we will only do this two more times before we will be home. How crazy is that?? Think of how fast these six months have flown and imagine how fast the next six and then the next and then it will be time....and right now that kind of makes me sad. I love being here and I love serving. I know my time will come to an end but I don't want to think of that now. Focusing on what I'm doing now in this area is what's most important.
We got our transfer call this week! And I'm staying here!!!! At the end of this transfer, I will have been in Alluvial for seven and a half months and Woodward Park for four and a half. It's crazy how long I've been here already! But I love this area so much and there are so many members who have helped me through a lot. I am so lucky and blessed to be able to stay here another transfer. Especially since this transfer will cover Thanksgiving AND Christmas! I can't believe that they are already coming up! Thanksgiving is next week and Christmas is only like four weeks later! I can't believe it. I didn't think this time would come so quickly. Even more than that, I didn't think I would still be in this area when it did come. Yet here I am! It's kind of crazy because no one in our zone was transferred. I'm not sure how often that happens, but I'm sure it happens rarely. A couple things did change though: We have a new sister training leader. She is part of the other sisters companionship and she and I came out together. She is a Spanish sister (Sister Ramos) though so I don't know her super well. I will get to know her though! It'll be great. I'm kind of sad Sister Monson isn't our sister training leader, but I have had a different one every transfer of my mission so far, so I guess I'm used to it. The other change that happened was a change in our district leader. I'm really sad about that one. I think that was probably the hardest change so far. Elder Grisenti has been my district leader for six months and he was released for his last transfer. He leaves on December 31 and I am so sad! But I know there is a reason that he isn't our district leader anymore; I just need to be patient and figure it out with our new one, Elder Hendricks. It's going to be great and I know as long as I put my whole heart and mind and strength in the Lord's work, everything will work out.
We taught our investigator the Word of Wisdom this week. It was one of the hardest lessons I've had to teach because we weren't sure if we would lose her or not. We love her so much and we want her to be able to have the blessings that come from being baptized. We had to tell her that she has to stop smoking and drinking coffee before she can be baptized. It was a brutal and intense lesson but I know we did the right thing. When we talked to our district leader about it, he said that God was proud of us for being bold even though I don't feel like I'm very good at it. God has blessed us and He has blessed Ronda for her efforts. She is now down to one cigarette a day and she hasn't had any coffee in four (hopefully five today) days! It's so amazing how much progress we have seen her make. I love seeing that and I love seeing the change that the Gospel can wrought in all of us. She is an incredible woman and she has so much determination to be baptized on December 6. I know your prayers are helping. Every prayer in her favor helps. Satan will attack her in the next three weeks and try to get her to give up, but I know that she won't if she is determined. And she is super determined. We have seen the way God has blessed her and it's incredible to see the "mighty change of heart." It's worth every hard moment I've had looking for people to teach. She came to church on Sunday and it was the primary program so it was super cute! And it was really powerful. I love the primary program and I feel so blessed that I got to see two of them. Those children have such powerful and simple testimonies and the way they sing is great!
On Wednesday night, we went to a members' home. It was dark outside and we could hear a lot of barking. One bark sounded more like a scream/yip thing. As we got out of the car, I made a joke about how it was probably a coyote. We were walking up this ridiculously long driveway of this member when Sister Lunddahl paused for a minute. She looked at me then and said quietly, "I think it's getting closer." My heart jumped and with no hesitation, I turned and ran back to the car. She followed right away. I fumbled with the keys as we ran so I could unlock before we got there and we jumped into the car. It was the scariest moment ever! I was terrified! Sister Lunddahl pulled out her camera to take a picture of the coyote. It was really dark so all we could see was its eyes. But it looked smaller than a coyote (and to be honest, I don't even really know what they look like or sound like) so we turned on the car and turned around to shine the lights on it....and it turned out to be this little dog only a little bigger than a wiener dog. Even more, it was a really nice dog of the members that live next door to the member we were going to see. It was funny after we figured out it was a dog...but I swear I almost had a heart attack!
We were able to teach this recent convert that we hadn't been able to meet with for a while. She's super awesome. She has gone through a lot but she is great. She is strong in the gospel even though she had a lot of questions. That's okay thought because most converts do. You did, right?? (Oh I have been meaning to ask--do you remember the missionaries who taught you?)
I bet it was cold. Who were they playing? Oh! There is a member in Woodward Park who is a huge Fresno State fan and he has cousins in Oregon who are BSU fans so he sent them dogs dressed in Fresno State colors. Well, they sent the dogs (they're stuffed) back dressed in BSU clothes! I took a picture because it made me laugh.
That's exciting about McKenzie! She's leaving so soon! She leaves a week after Sister Lunddahl goes back to Temple Square. I'm super sad about that because it will be hard to see her go and at the same time it will be hard to get a new companion halfway through the transfer again...but it's the Lord's will!
That's great! I love hearing about convert baptisms. Where does she live?? How did she come to know about the church?
Yeah that would be Sherry. She's a recent convert who loves us a lot. She's great. Who else did you get pictures from? I did have fun though it wasn't my favorite thing to do--but yes, I did get some tips and I will start slow on myself. I figured you would mention that. Dad emailed her right? She told me about it.
That's a great lesson! I'm sure they had fun and they will remember it in years to come
I love being here. And I hope you know I think of you all every day though not too much so I don't get distracted. I know you all pray for me every day because I can feel it. I'm looking forward to continue growing and changing to become like Christ. I love you!
Sister Abigail Reese
PS Did you send my peacoat? Also, is there a way I could just be added to your Costco stuff to get a card?
I got your email with the pictures of Duke! He's so cute. I miss him. I hope he remembers me when I get home. I don't think I have to worry about that with anyone else though. Hopefully anyway. I can't believe it snowed so much! Grandma wrote me about how it snowed in Poky not too long ago, but she said it had only rained a lot in Boise. Now it has snowed! I can't believe. I definitely don't miss snow but I will probably miss it on Christmas Day. It would be nice to have a white Christmas, but I know we probably won't.
This week we got our transfer call. I was a little crazy on Saturday waiting for it. Sister Lunddahl and I were both a little out of it just because we were so nervous. We both figured we would stay in the area but we weren't sure. We didn't think President Clark would transfer me since Sister Lunddahl is leaving in three weeks and we didn't think he would transfer her...since she's leaving in three weeks. And we were right. Neither of us was transferred. Actually, no one in our whole zone was transferred which is unusual. A couple things that did change is who our sister training leader is and who our district leader is. Our sister training leader is a sister I came out with, Sister Ramos. She is in our zone and she's great. I don't know her that well but I love her. She's a Spanish sister. Our new district leader is Elder Hendricks. I don't know him that well either. I'm kind of sad because I've had the same district leader for four transfers and now it has changed. Elder Grisenti is one of my favorite elders. He's an incredible missionary and he has helped me through a lot. He is leaving on December 31 though and I'm really sad. I think that has been the hardest part for me--watching people leave. In three weeks, Sister Lunddahl is leaving and I'm sad especially because we've gotten so close. We've decided that I'm going to visit Denmark one day and she is going to come visit us! It's going to be fun! All that aside, she does have to go back to Temple Square and I know that but it doesn't mean I have to like it. I love her with all my heart and she has helped me overcome a lot of different trials. It's going to be hard to get a new companion halfway through the transfer again but I know the Lord has plans and every companion that I have needs me and I need her. There is a reason for it all. But I get to stay for Thanksgiving and Christmas! I'm so excited!
We taught our investigator the Word of Wisdom on Wednesday this week. It was really difficult because we didn't want to lose her and we had to tell her that she had to give up cigarettes and coffee before she could be baptized, but we both knew she could do it. Sister Lunddahl promised her if she did it before she was baptized, it would be a lot easier to resist the temptation after baptism. It was a super intense lesson but we followed the spirit in everything we did and said. I know that we did what the Lord expected of us. Especially since our investigator is getting baptized on December 6. We had the opportunity to sit in when Bishop Lawrence gave her a blessing yesterday too which was really awesome. It was amazing to see the trust she was beginning to have for some of those members in Alluvial. Bishop gave her a great blessing and a powerful one. I loved being able to sit in with her. It was such a cool experience to know that she can do it if she puts her mind to it and the Lord will bless her if she does.
We had a fun experience on Wednesday! We were going to visit a member and we heard some barking as we got out of the car. I made a joke about how it was probably a coyote. As we were walking up the driveway, which was ridiculously long, Sister Lunddahl paused for a moment and then said, "I think it's getting closer." We booked it back to the car. My heart was pounding and I was afraid that we were going to be eaten by a coyote! I had to unlock the car as we ran so that was a bit of a struggle. Sister Lunddahl took a picture of this coyote when we got back in the car but all you could see was its eyes. It occurred to me that I really didn't know what a coyote sounded like or looked like. So we turned on the car and turned around so we could shine the lights on the coyote. Turns out it wasn't a coyote at all but a little dog--you know the ankle biters you love? Yeah one of those. and it wasn't even scary! It was a gentle one. It was funny after the initial fear...but it was terrifying in the moment!
Something really interesting that I found out last week is that a sister that was in my MTC district who is now in the Australia Melbourne Mission is training a sister who has a sister here in Fresno. The crazy thing? Her sister is in one of the wards I serve in! And she's less active and we are teaching her! I thought it was the craziest thing ever! It made me so happy! I was so excited to tell her sister...and then her sister cancelled on us. I was really sad but we'll get to see her eventually.
We met with a woman who reminds me a lot of Courtney. She has a lot of different struggles and misses home. Her family lives in Wisconsin but her husband is from Fresno so they are there. I really want to be able to help her but I don't know how. We will just keep going by and sharing a message. I hope it will work.
We have two new investigators! They are our ward mission leader's nephews in Woodward Park. They are super great and they like us! They are ten and eleven and I love teaching them. It's fun! Brother Rahn (the ward mission leader) says that they probably won't be baptized for a while but we can still teach them and help them. It has apparently helped them to hear our lessons and that makes me so happy. They're mom just passed away about three or four months ago and so they've had a major change. They're great though.
Congrats to Sister Armstrong! I think I new that she was pregnant but I'm not sure. It's cool that she had the baby though!
I'm excited for McKenzie! I hope she knows what a huge blessing this experience will be for her if she pushes through!
I can't believe I've been out almost six months. It's crazy! It's gone by so fast! Mostly.
I love seeing missionaries leave. We had a missionary in Alluvial come home this week. He talked to us. He's like seven feet tall so I felt really tiny next to him. It was great!
I love being a missionary and I love it here in Fresno. Thank you for your prayers! They help. I love you and pray for you everyday! Have a wonderful week!
Sister Abigail Reese
PS Can you send my peacoat?