Thursday, July 3, 2014

Well, it's official! I hit my year mark this past Thursday! It is so crazy to think that I have been out that long. It feels longer and shorter at the same time. I just truly feel so blessed that my MTC Companions and I could spend the whole day together. Sister Munro, Sister Etherington and I were able to have a good day. That night, we celebrated by having a dance party and dancing to EFY music.... haha! Oh the things that happen with Visitor's Center Sisters! It is also really cool, because there are 13 Sisters that live in the Hatch House and it just happens that this transfer we are all sharing a room. SWEET! It is a party all the time, and I love being with my Sisters. 

This last friday, June 27, marked the Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Joseph Smith. There is a Commemoration that the Mission hosts every year at the Jail for the public to come a have a feeling of reverence that day. The Commemoration lasted for about an hour, and there was a really special feeling there. Out on the grounds of Carthage Jail, we had a stage set up with chairs reaching back as far as the eye could see. It started with the Nauvoo Brass Band performing some Hymns, and then they has us (all of the Young Sister Missionaries) sing a musical number. We performed an arrangement of "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief". It was so moving, because ever since I can remember, my favorite hymns have always been the Hymns of the Restoration. My personal favorite is that very song, and I remember feeling the Spirit as I sang that when I was a little girl. Now, as a Missionary, singing it at the place where the Martyrdom occurred..... it is beyond my wildest dreams. I cannot believe that I am so blessed to be able to serve my Mission in a place like Nauvoo, and to be able to serve a Mission in the place that is so important to Joseph Smith, and has now become so important to me. On my year mark, I wrote down all the things that I have been grateful for this past year, and how blessed I am to be able to serve here. SERIOUSLY though. I just feel so blessed, and I kind of tear up every time when I think that this time will end, and I just want to stay on my Mission forever.... ah! I just feel so fulfilled. It has been a goal my entire life to serve a Mission, and now that I am, in such an amazing place... I just feel Heavenly Father's love for me, and how he cares about me enough to allow a Mission to happen at this time in my life, at this place. I just love life!

So this Saturday, we had a deaf family come into town! So, Sister Munro and I were assigned to them, and were able to spend the whole day with them. First off, can I just say I love interpreting? I love it because it is a break from the norm. Usually, we go to the Visitor's Center every day, and do pretty much the same stuff. But when you are interpreting, you get to know this family, be with them the whole day, and my ultimate favorite- you get to see how they change throughout the day as they feel the Spirit in Nauvoo. We went on a carriage ride, and took them around to several sites. Freddie, their son, was just adorable. He is about 10-11 years old, and just a delight. He has these cute little freckles with bright blue eyes, and they light up whenever he got a ring or horseshoe from the Blacksmith Shop. He also loved watching the shows that night. Sunset by the Mississippi- a variety show- was so fun that night. There were so many specialty acts with jokes, and the entire crowd was just cracking up! Everyone loved it! All that I can say is that Nauvoo is a party, every night! Later that night too, we also interpreted BYU's Jazz Band group called Synthesis, and also the BYU Dance group that was touring with them, called Contemporary Dance Theater. They were really, really good that night. Something I just find kind of funny, is that literally every other Mission has pretty strict rules on Music, but as a Nauvoo VC Sister we HAVE to listen to all of the performances so that we can tell guests our honest opinions of them. So that night, it was "Play that Funky Music", and romantic songs, and even one from My Chemical Romance, a rock band! Both groups did a great job, and I loved seeing the faces of the family that we were interpreting for. They are Hard of Hearing, so mostly deaf but can hear a little bit. Synthesis is a biig Jazz band, and was really loud, so it was perfect for them because they could actually hear the music! 

So earlier that day, Sister Munro and I have a pretty cool experience with being able to find a lamp. First off, the Nauvoo Visitor's Center is a party, but it's a party from the 70's because that is the last time this building was renovated :) So the theaters they have are not friendly to people that have specific needs. So, we needed a lamp to have the deaf people be able to watch us in the dark, but there was literally nothing it seemed in all of Nauvoo. So, we went on a hunt through all of the sites, trying to find a goose-neck lamp. We went to a few homes and finally, I just said, "let's pray". I explained to Heavenly Father that I knew this was not life and death situation, but it really would be great if he could help us. So, after Sister Munro felt that we should go to the Lucky Mack Smith Home, and along the way she just stopped outside of the Log School house and said, 'We need to go in here". So we went, and there was not a lamp there, but one of the seniors knew where one was! It was a perfect answer to prayers and a perfect example of Heavenly Father caring about the little things to make us happy, and how sometimes we don't get the answer we expect but we always get to where we need to be if we trust in Him.

This week has been a wonderful opportunity to be able to share the Gospel with those that we come in contact with in the Visitor's Center. I have been making an effort to have more spiritual lessons on the VC Floor. I feel that the Lord has provided a way this week through several youth groups.

When one of the youth groups were here, Sister Hansen and I had an opportunity to teach two boys. One was 18, and the other was 15. Both were mainly just interested in talking to us at first, but after being lead by the Spirit we were able to turn the conversation to more spiritual topics, and to get to the root of the problem. The boys confided in us that they have problems with drinking. They both want to serve Missions to make their parents proud, but don't want to go through the repentance process because the Bishop is their Father or their Uncle. We were able to share stories of people that we both know who went through similar things, and to be able to give them hope. I feel that Sister Hansen and I were specifically meant to teach these boys at that time, and we will be continuing to follow up and teach them over the phone to offer support.

AWESOME MOMENT: a family from my Outbound came to visit me! The Blacks! Brother Black was the High Councilor over Missionary Work in the Rexburg South Stake when I served in Idaho, and on their way back home from D.C. they came here to visit me! It was so wonderful, and such a surprise! I wish I could have had my camera so I could have gotten a picture, but it was the best to hear from them.
Funny story: So on Sunday, we were out in the Sites and we served in the Tinshop. It is a pretty cool place to serve, because you bear your testimony about the importance of using your talents to help others, and also having enough faith to follow the patterns the Lord has set for our lives, just like how Tinsmiths had to follow the patterns to make a pan. There you go, the tour in a nutshell! Haha! Anyways, at the beginning of each tour, we introduced ourselves, and I accidentally called myself Sister Russell.... Haha awkward! Sister Russell just looked at me kind of funny, and then went, "..... and.. ahhh I'm Sister Russell, from Missouri!" Haha! I did not even realize what I had done until she pointed it out later after the tour. No wonder the guests gave me kind of a weird look! Haha!

Spiritual Moment: "Our Story Goes On" is a Christian performance that the core cast of the British and Nauvoo Pageants put on about the plan that God has for us. It was INCREDIBLE because they are all professional singers, and they are putting Broadway songs into a Christian story line. It was the best, and the Spirit was so strong as the actors were bearing their testimony about the Plan of Salvation. I got a bit teary eyed at some parts, especially the song Bring Him Home from Les Mis. Soooo good, no wonder it is one of my favorite musicals! 

Pretty much this week was awesome! Love you

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