Monday, September 30, 2013

Brick Ghettos and Blue Toilets

Dear Family-

Okay. Now I am going to try to write as much as possible but A LOT has happened so go easy on me. I will start with Monday. Monday was my last day in the MTC! Whooooohooo! It was really hard to concentrate and it was even harder to say goodbye to all of my amazing teachers. After we had said goodbye to everyone, we had to clean our classroom during our planning time (9:00-9:30pm). We didn't have anytime on Monday scheduled to pack or clean so I don't know when they expected us to do that. After that, the elders of our district gave everyone a blessing who wanted one. It was a very powerful experience and I realized how much I had grown to love my MTC district. They have become my family and I especially didn't realize how hard it was going to be to say goodbye. After that we headed back to our residence halls at 10:30pm (which is when lights are supposed to be out but we were a little late. haha We were always bad at getting to bed on time. Anyway, we then had to pack and clean our room. So that took till 1:30am and we had to be at the travel office at 3:30am. We had about an hour and a half of sleep before we were up and on our way to the office! It was crazy and it was freezing! Not to mention that all of us have been sick (which I am finally done coughing). We then loaded up on the bus and we went to the airport. We did all of our phone calling and got on the plane. Flew to Arizona. Then we flew to Missouri! Oh, the Lord gave me a tender mercy and I had a window seat on every flight, Mom! We got to Missouri at like....2:00pm ish. I was so nervous but as soon as we came down to baggage claim and I saw my mission president and his wife I felt so at home. They are amazing and soooo kind. All 30 of us got our baggage and loaded up in these huge vans and went to the mission home. (Which looks like Sleeping Beauty's cottage by the way) This place looks so much like Virginia, Mom! Just not as green and a little more space. Oh ya, we went and took a picture at the temple which they said they were going to send to you so that you knew we were alive. Then we went to the mission home. Then we had a big BBQ and the president did interviews and we had a talent show and then finally we were able to sleep! The girls (9 of us) spent the night at the mission home in these cute, tiny blue bunk beds. We got up and got ready and we headed to the church for the transfer meeting. The boys stayed at a motel.

Corinne with President and Sister Morgan in front of the St. Louis Temple on 9/24/2013

Corinne with President Morgan, Sister Morgan, and the 29 other missionaries that arrived in St. Louis on 9/24/2013

We were so nervous! I thought I was going to die. My biggest fear was that when I got called to an area that my trainer would be like "Dang it....that's the girl I didn't want"! haha Oh wait, I should explain how these meetings work first. So, we got to the church and we all huddled together as a district and took a picture. Then, we went into a room and they pumped so much information at me that I don't think I retained any of at all. They talked about driving and debit cards and medical stuff and it was way boring. Then we went to the chapel. Now everyone who was getting transferred or was to be a new trainer was there. We walk in and the chapel is full....full, full. haha The missionaries that are leaving are sitting on one side of the choir seats and we sat on the other. I felt like I was on display. Now they don't tell you where you are going and who your companion is and your trainer doesn't know who you are or where they are going either. So you go down one at a time and the AP points at a line and you say your name, where you are from, and then you read where you are going and your companion's name. Honestly, it would have been fun if I wasn't so nervous. Another fear was that I wasn't going to be able to pronounce my area. haha Stupid, right? So crazy thing, as I watched each person in my district get called you could instantly just see how the Lord was definitely in charge of placing you with the right people. You could tell each companion was meant to be together.

Ok, so I got up and my fear came true. I had the hardest area to pronounce but I guess I have been the best at attempting it. I got called to serve in the Carondelet 3 area serving with trainer Sister Fisher! haha It was awesome. So now I will tell you about my area which I have a love/hate relationship with. I am in south St. Louis. Technically, our area is "the county" and the elders are in the city but we do both according to the circumstances. Um, honestly the best way to put it is I am in the straight up ghetto. Hahaha. I am in the closest area a sister can get to the city. So I got my wish. In the MTC I kept saying "Send me to East St. Louis. I can take em!" Ya well Heavenly Father let me get pretty dang close. Our apartment is ghetto. We have a tiny blue toilet and bathtub that look just like the Reynold's old ones just even smaller. The sink is blue too and it was like put on crooked on the wall. Haha. There is no heat in our apartment so I don't know what we will do when it is winter time. The ac is this little old thing stuck in the window. Guess where we sleep? On mattresses on the floor in the middle of the living room right under the ac. I love it. The office elders brought the sisters a couch last transfer but it smells really weird and Sister Fisher said not to sit on it cause we don't know where they got it from. Haha. all of our neighbors are drug dealers and when the neighbors below us light up at night, you can smell the cigarettes and drugs float up through our bathroom. Everywhere you go here smells like cigarettes. I can stand it. It makes me sick but I have to get used to it. So I haven't felt unsafe at all since being here but (don't freak out, Mom....the Lord is on our side) we are in a pretty dangerous area. I learned never to roll the windows down all the way and to avoid all streets that have the name of a state. There is a street named Idaho here that we are not allowed to be driving anywhere on that street at night. Um, everyone here smokes and drinks beer. Cars get stolen and broken into ALL the time.

Something that has been hard for me to adjust to is that we do more work with members, less actives, and recent converts than investigators here because this ward is seriously falling apart. So first off, a year ago some missionaries did some things (screwed around with one of the wives in the ward who was going through a divorce with her husband or something like that) so they have spent like a year trying to mend what that one missionary did which...oh....makes me so mad. Anyway, the ward is just really hard to work with and because the ward is like probably 75% converts, it isn't retaining people very well. The organization is terrible so we are working so much with the ward to make it possible. Also, because the people here are recent converts, they have great great faith but are a little iffy on things like modesty so it is a whole new experience going to church here. Haha. It was extremely hard the first few days meeting people here because I thought they all hated me. But, people here just all have a really hard shell and once you crack it, they have such big hearts. It's just been a real humbling and growing opportunity here.

Our investigators!!! So we have three progressing investigators...Stephen, Debbi, and Liayou. I love Stephen more than anything. He is amazing. He has had a super rough life, been to jail for drugs, stuff like that but he has such a good heart. Right now, we are working on helping him quit smoking and he has agreed to get baptized! However, he missed church this Sunday and you have to come at least three times before you can get baptized. He was going to be baptized on October 12th but there is General Conference next Sunday and so we have to push his date back. Sad day but he is moving forward which is amazing! Then there is Liayou. She is from Africa and has the coolest accent! She lives in the city which isn't our area but we teach her because we are girls and the elders can't. I have only met her once but she is getting baptized on October 19th. Then Debbi. Now the night I first met Debbi I like broke down in the car cause I felt like everyone I had met hated me. Everyone kept asking Sister Fisher where sister Minyard went like they were so unhappy that they had me instead of her. (Which I understand they were really close to her but still.) When we went to go to Debbi's for dinner and a lesson, I felt like God sent her to me instead of me to her. She made me feel so at home and so loved and just was thanking me and so kind. When you walked into their home, you felt like you were back in someone's home from our ward. I loved her.

Mom, you would love it here. EVERYTHING IS MADE OF BRICK. The houses are called shotgun houses cause you could stand in one room and shoot all the way through the house. They are tall and really narrow. If you watch Prince and the Frog....the part where she says "Hey, I made gumbo" to the neighborhood and you see the aerial view of the homes, that's what everything looks like here but brick.

I'll try sending pictures as soon as I can! I have to get a converter because we go to one of the colleges to use their computers in the library.

Oh and Sister trainer. Love her! Guess what? She has only been out for 3 weeks and she is training me. Haha. She is from Pocatello, Idaho. We found out that we are the exact same age. She turns 20 on November 15th. Weird, huh? We get along great and I can definitely trust her.

The church is true. I am so loved and blessed by my Heavenly Father everyday. I know He hears me when I pray. Guess what, Family? I am going to scold you now. Get active in the missionary work! Please, we missionaries need it sooooo badly. There is a statistic that if you teach an investigator with a member present, that convert will be 90% more likely to stay in the church. So, please help our missionaries. We cannot do this alone. We need your help. We are doing something new in our mission called harvesting and we are not tracting anymore. We have to get all our investigators through the members. Do you know how hard that is when they won't help? We covenanted to help spread the Lord's gospel when we were baptized so get to work! I love you all so much!!


Sister Lundskog

PS. Oh, haha, guess what? I pretty much already have an internship lined up with the best storm chasing company in the world when I am done with my mission if I still want to pursue that dream. Just thought you would really want to know that!

PPS. Sorry I keep forgetting things. So when I was in the MTC, I decided to pray to know if Joseph Smith really was a prophet. I always have just been like oh ya, he is but never prayed about it. I realized that I cannot ask my investigators to pray to know if he was truly a prophet if I have never done it myself. So, I said a prayer and then kinda forgot about it honestly. Well, yesterday was Sunday and we had a missionary fireside with the stake. We watched the Joseph Smith movie with the restoration and I just wanted my family to know for a surety so that if anyone every questioned that you could tell them that I truly know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. He did see God and Jesus Christ and he translated the Book of Mormon. I finally realize that he sacrificed so much to bring this gospel to the earth and I will not, with my short time here on a mission, waste a single moment to do everything in my power to bring people unto Christ. I have such a powerful testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet and I feel so loved and blessed and I realize that I have not been asked to give very much. Just my time and effort to build up this great church and to bring salvation unto the souls of everyone I touch. Every soul is worth it in the sight of God. Every single one. This is too precious of a gift not to share it with everyone. I just wanted you to all know my testimony is sure and is built on the rock of my Savior. I am so proud and blessed to be a missionary for Jesus Christ.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Letting Yourself Change

Dear Family-

Okay, first things first. Thank you for the package. I literally cried when I got homemade cookies. I died I was so happy. Everyone is so nice to me. I am absolutely overly blessed with all the loving friends and family I have. Uncle Bill and Aunt Mary and Uncle Jon and Aunt Kelly have both sent me packages and I can't say thank you because I have no addresses. So could you send me that or their emails or let them know how thankful I am.

Well, I just want to testify to you how important this work absolutely blessed we are. The biggest lesson I have learned being here is that we have the most precious gift on earth. How dare we deny someone the gift of the love of Christ. I never want to deny anyone this amazing gift. It is absolutely crazy how much I have changed, whether I wanted to or not. I am now saying I love you to perfect strangers and I can't even comprehend that! I would never say I love you to anyone haha and you know how much I hate hugs. I'm hugging everyone (well, only girls). It is amazing how much the gospel of Christ can change who you are. I feel so much love and feel so loved at the same time. I am starting to get very anxious to leave. Lots of anxiety but I cannot wait to get going on this amazing journey.

Oh, tell the Bishop I saw Elder Mitton! I saw him night here when I was giving our new district a tour and he looked way happy. We couldn't talk but I found him today and he sounds fantastic.

I don't know how to upload pictures on the MTC computer but I'll try and send some soon.

Oh. When I get to Missouri can I ask you for a huge favor? So those tan shoes you got me with the holes in them gave me the worst blister. Like, I've been in pain for days. So is there anyway you could get me some tan no show socks? That would help so much.

Oh, I am getting sick. It is always cold here. They blast the AC in all the buildings and you hardly ever are outside and I don't have the warmest clothes. It is freezing at night. So I think that and the stress and the fact that I'm having a hard time sleeping has gotten me sick. I woke up yesterday with a sore throat and stuffy nose. But, I've been sucking on cough drops. I am okay.

Oh! Our TRC! Our second lesson was amazing. All Michelle needed was a friend to talk to. To feel loved. That's all. It didn't matter what we taught as long as she felt God's love. I love this gospel. It is amazing and I know what I am doing is right. I am gonna be honest; I am not going to miss this place. But, I am going to miss the love and the Spirit here. I know how important this gospel is and this work I am a part of. I can't wait for what is coming next. We went to a devotional and the speaker's wife gave her testimony before he spoke. Something she said really touched me. She said, "Everyday of your mission you will think of home. But, when you do come home, every day for the rest of your life you will think of your mission." I know this will be true. I know it is hard to change. It is so hard to look at a stranger and tell them I love you or trust a companion you have only known for 10 days. You go through life and things make you who you are and it is so hard to let that go. To let yourself change. But, I have felt so blessed. You know how I hate to ask for help and I have had to really let that go. That is so hard! But, last night I finally asked for a blessing and it took so much courage to admit I needed help. But it was exactly what I needed. God let me know I can trust Him. That's how I am changing. I am trusting, I am believing, and I have the authority and power to be the best missionary in the Lord's hands. I love you and miss you with all my heart.

Get ready St. Louis cause here we come at 3:30am! The church is true, go be awesome!

Love you all family-

Sister Lundskog

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"He Makes Weak Things Strong"

Dear Family-

So I am just gonna write you and then read these letters after because I don't know how much time I have and I have a lot to say.

First off, being called "Sister Lundskog" is a huge adjustment. haha

You're probably going to get a letter that I wrote to you on Friday but just mailed it only so you can understand how my emotions seem to change every day. Friday I was having a hard time. Yet I am happy. So first off I probably have lost like 5 pounds from simply not eating. The food is so gross and it makes you sick...haha. So I like don't even know what to tell you! There has been so much happening. You actually teach people here. You have you personal investigator (PI) who is one of your teachers and he just pretends to be a friend of his. The teacher calls and asks him all the questions and do role plays and our PI is named Matt and Matt is from Florida. I want to tell you something about Matt. I LOVE HIM. I love him and I will obviously actually meet him but he needs the gospel in his life so badly. Then you have your TRC. We had our first TRC yesterday. Worst experience of my life! So first off, you don't know if this person is an actor, convert, investigator, less active have no idea. You teach a 45 minute lesson and practice knocking at their home door and everything. It is supposed to be exactly like being in the field. Our investigator's name is Michelle. She is a daughter of God but that was the most demolishing thing I have ever been through. First off, she doesn't believe in Christ and the whole lesson just was awful. I just didn't know exactly what to say and my companion did not help at all. I had to do almost everything.

Oh, so my companion is Sister Rouse. I love her but I have a hard time with her sometimes. She just graduated and turned 19 in August so she is missing the maturity a little. haha But I love her. I have a hard time because it takes her hours to get ready and we are always late. But I love her.

Ummm, so I don't even know what to say. So much has happened it's ridiculous. I feel like I have learned so much that I could just come home and not even go on a mish! So my district is amazing. Hands down the best district in the world. The district is me, Sister Rouse, Sister Vance, Sister Barrett, Sister Hobbs, Elder Campbell, Elder Lukens, Elder Hightower, Elder Clifford, and Elder MacEntire and we are all going to St. Louis. We are super blessed. Elder Lukens is my inspiration. Four years ago he left on his mission to St Louis and came home for health issues and now at 23 he is back out here doing it again. Do you know how much faith and courage that would take to come back? I love him and we all look up to him so much.

Oh, Sister Rouse and I got called as the new Sister Training Leaders. It's the equivalent to zone leader pretty much. But, O my lanta, they gave us the assignment on Thursday when I truly needed it the most. The MTC truly shows how absolutely inadequate you are. I honestly feel so inadequate for this work. It isn't even funny. I am not good at all. The key is to just trust the Spirit, do your best, and he will make up the rest for you. I love the gospel and I love this church. You don't even understand how amazing it is. You have so much love for so many people.

I love you all sooooooo much. Sorry, Mom, you might have to spell check this since I'm typing so fast! haha Please tell the ward that they shouldn't tell people they are going to be an amazing missionary because that totally got shot down. But, I can testify to you that whatever I cannot do the Lord will help me through it. He makes weak things strong. I love this gospel and I honestly can't wait for St. Louis. We leave here at 3:30am next Tuesday! We went to the temple today and I felt so amazing. I love you all.

Oh....side not to Emily Doughty. You need to go to church. I know for a fact that the thing you need in your life is the gospel. You have been on my mind every day since I have been here. I love you and I can testify to you that this gospel will bring you so much joy and happiness. I pray for you every night, Emily. Call up the missionaries and go to church with my family.

Love you-

Sister Lundskog