Monday, July 28, 2014
Just thought you'd all like to know that I conquered the 21st birthday without the aid of alcohol, something I believe most of my other young adult peers throughout America can't claim! It was a really happy day! Quite a few people had heard it was my birthday so I was wished several happy birthdays! They even surprised me by singing to me randomly in the middle of dinner!! So fun! I bought ingredients for a lemon lime birthday cake to take to last district meeting, it turned out cute! I'll try to remember to send pictures! The district sang to me on Tuesday and several of them told me I was allowed to have a birthday whenever I wanted... haha!!
Thank you so much for the many many many kind emails and letters the past few weeks from so many friends and family members! I was nearly or in tears in every email today! Ya'll are the best, I'm so grateful for such an amazing support team cheering for me back home! It makes it easier to take this next step knowing I have loving arms to welcome me home.
This week has been bittersweet. My heart it torn in two, half of it in Alaska, and the other half in Manti. I love Alaska so much, I hope so badly that my life's journeys will eventually bring me back here. The people in Alaska are just amazing, and they have stolen my heart. As I've reflected on the past 18 months I'm just so grateful for the opportunity I've had to serve Heavenly Father at this time in my life. I realize before President Monson's inspired announcement that this email could have been the first email in the MTC rather than the concluding email of my mission, and although I'm sad that this is all over, I'm happy for the timing that brought me to the people I've met during these months.
I will very much miss the time I've had to devote and concentrate 100% to the Lord, but I do look forward to seeing you all soon! Thank you for the love and support over these 18 months!
Posted by Marissa at 6:49 AM
Monday, July 21, 2014
So I'm sitting down to a delicious salmon Sunday dinner when who interrupts, but MOM. Hahaha, How crazy was that timing?!? I was in Wasilla, having dinner with members that I've never had dinner with before that are trying to set things up for their son's wedding in Manti! I met them when they were in Valdez a couple months ago and gave them mom's number and then mom calls them when I'm randomly at there house for dinner! That was really fun! Mom must've been inspired.. ;)
So they didn't have a place for us to stay in Valdez, we were essentially homeless, the next closest missionaries were in Wasilla so they had us drive in Friday and we'll be finishing our missions here.
So I'm working in the COLONY and FISHHOOK wards! (only in Alaska would they name a ward "Fishhook" right?) The Elders were covering three wards before so we're just here trying to lighten their load! It will be a bit crazy because we'll only be here for a couple weeks (as I recall I'm going home in the near future..) but we'll do our best to love the people here, work our hardest, and leave it better than we found it (that's my goal in every area!). Wasilla is about an hour north of Anchorage so it was only 4 1/2 hour drive to Wasilla from Valdez.. hahaha (only 4 1/2 hours oh sheesh..) Wasilla is kind of the farm area of Alaska. It's here that they grow really huge vegetables because there is so much sunlight. Lots of horses and fields, it's not Valdez, but it's still beautiful.
So here's another fun story, Sister Grayson and I played a musical number in Sacrament Meeting for the Fishhook ward and who came up to me afterwards but the Cooks from MANTI! Haha that was so fun to see them and have a little bit of my home stake in Alaska with me! Sounds like they'll be getting to UT just a few days before me, so I'll be following them in! I love those fun connections, it's such a small world!
Sending it to the mission office will probably be safer, but this will be faster! We're having Angie Christensen forward our mail home too so if you start seeing mail for me, that's why!
We have much to celebrate this week! Sister Grayson and I expire on the 23, Pioneer day is the 24, and I believe Sunday will be my 21st anniversary of making it around the sun. I will be legal to buy alcohol. What an accomplishment! hahaha
Last but not least, this bit is for dad, I thought he'd be proud to know I caught a 23" Salmon weighting in at 5 pounds, 7 ounces this past week, all those years taking me fishing paid off! I've now joined the ranks of bragging fisherman-hooray!!
Thanks so much for all the love this week, I think this past week was the best mail week of my entire mission! I have the best friends and family ever!!!
Posted by Marissa at 8:31 AM
Monday, July 14, 2014
FIRST THINGS FIRST: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! man ;) still as beautiful and young as ever. ALSO, thank YOU for the many many birthday cards!! They have been a blast to get a few each day. Certainly a tender mercies. :) I smile every time I see those envelopes. ;) BEST PEOPLE EVER.
It's been a week and it's been weak. haha man, where to begin.. So Thursday morning at about 2:30 I was doing what any other reasonable person is doing at that time of day.. I was sleeping. Amiss my pleasant dreams I heard banging and shouting and commotion, we both woke up and Sister Grayson asked what time it was through my sleep brain I mustered up "2:34, but I don't know if it's p.m. or a.m." I think in my brain I was thinking it might be p.m. and we must have like slept through our alarm or something because of the noise, and that's when I heard someone yelling "FIRE!!!" outside! We bolted up and I grabbed my tennis shoes and raincoat, Sister Grayson didn't even get a chance to grab her shoes, and then we stood outside for an hour and watched the fire and cried. The firetruck was super fast and it turns out they were just finishing another call so they were able to come straight over, otherwise it would have been worse. Our landlord (whose is also a member) called the bishop for us and we tried to sleep the rest of the night at his place. The fire wasn't out by the time we were gone and it sounds like it took them a while to get it out.
Then bishop's wife made us french toast which was awesome... A lady in the ward (Sister Banner) called us and told us we could stay and her place for a few weeks, so that's where we've been. After dinner Thursday night, we just mega packed and put as much as we could fit into our three bags of luggage and hauled it over to their place to start on laundry (thank the heavens for a truck). I HAVE DONE SO MUCH LAUNDRY THIS WEEK. I don't even know how much I lost track. So we tried to sleep again (not with much luck.. I didn't really sleep until last night.. haha) and throughout the night I kept hearing the laundry beep so rather than just laying and staring at the ceiling, I got up and changed it, folded it, and then laid down again. Every loud or sudden noise has put me on edge.. and I about go into a panic attack now when I smell smoke.. ugh BUT the laundry was done by Saturday evening (which was my goal!!!) so our little room that we're living in is smelling less and less like smoke. yay! A lot of my make up had to be thrown away but I was able to salvage what I use the most so that was good. One super awesome thing about living with the Banner's is that she has two little bathrooms downstairs because she has a preschool downstairs.. so we both get our own bathroom.. it's kind of amazing. That little ducky bathroom has become my safe haven, and Sister Grayson confirms she feels that way about her ocean bathroom.
Then Friday evening we got a call from Bishop telling us that the priesthood was going to be over to move us Saturday morning... well we hadn't even started packing the rest of our apartment.. so after dinner we went back and started on the packing up the dishes, kitchen, and going through all the random stuff in the apartment. Missionaries have been there for a long time so there was a ton of stuff in the spare room that had to be gone through.. a lot of stuff that had to be thrown away because of smoke damage. but some how through miracles we were able to get it ready during the two hours we had Friday night and the hour we spent Saturday morning before they came, no doubt there was divine help for that strength, especially when you're dealing with me not be able to lift much and Sister Grayson having a bad back too! But the men showed up Saturday (which apparently many of you saw on FBook) and they got us moved out in like 30 minutes, so nothing is left and I don't think we'll ever have to go back to that apartment again.. thank the heavens.
So in other news, while ya'll are dying in the HOT Utah heat, it's a pleasant 59 degrees today! Sunny with a very slight breeze. Just another day in paradise. Sister Grayson and I are keeping with the tradition and going fishing today too. Wish us luck! Hopefully the salmon are in! They're suppose to be in mid-July! Oh and also the primary sharing time went well yesterday. I've decided I just want to be a primary teacher for the rest of my life.. that would be living the dream.
LOVE YOU ALL so much! Thanks so much for the prayers and emails, especially this week, so grateful for each one of you!
Posted by Marissa at 4:42 PM
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Hi family :)
Life is good in the AAM! It was so fun, we got to meet President Robinson and his wife this past weeks and holy smokes they're amazing! I'm actually really sad I can't have them longer. He is just one of those people that just radiates with love for everyone and he was so easy to talk to! I felt like I had know him forever, and he gave me the big hello from you guys, and Sister Robinson gave me the hug! It was a really positive experience!
So here is the neat story of this week, it's in weird font because I copied and pasted it from my letter to President Robinson:
We had a really neat miracle happen this week! On Saturday we got a call in the morning from a less active member that we had been told specifically not to visit because they are anti and DO NOT want visits! I was a little puzzled but answered the phone and the lady told us she'd been reading some things about Joseph Smith and angels and had some questions.. We were apprehensive but agreed to meet with her at the church. The meeting was probably the most spiritual experience of my life! Her heart has been so softened and as she went through her questions, they were all questions that Sister Grayson and I could answer. Some of the questions were on extremely random topics even that I had just been studying very in depth lately! The relief from the burden of those questions were just completely lifted and she came to church Sunday for the first time in many months! She has begun her journey back!
So that was amazing! Also W had us over for dinner this week and that was a blast- very delicious and had a great conversation. T was also at church and they keep just progressing great. She knows she wants to be baptized, and is just waiting for her husband to come around. We just basically had the best gospel principles lesson ever and then I hurried off to sub piano in primary again! (it was my third time.. I love being in primary although sometimes it makes me a little trunky haha)
So life is good! I'll send pictures from our fishing trip this past week! We're going again today! I think fishing every p-day might become a tradition! Fishing for fish on Monday, fishing for people the rest of the week! hahaha
Posted by Marissa at 6:18 AM
Monday, June 30, 2014
This is the email you've all been waiting for. For the past 70 weeks you've held your breath as I've been a missionary in Alaska and it's finally happened. I got the bear picture. Yep. Sister Grayson and I were just driving out to visit some people last evening and there he was just off the side of the road in his glory. We pulled over and got some pictures which I'll be sending soon! The bears are out!
Speaking of Alaskan wildlife, we're going fishing today! There is a family in the ward that's taking us tonight and they're doing dinner with us, so we'll have a fish fry on the beach! I'm so excited! I'll finally have the full Alaska experience after today! Seeing a bear, and now fishing. What an exciting two days!
So Mark asked about air conditioning, we don't have air conditioning and honestly, I don't know of any place that has air conditioning in Alaska. Probably the churches in Fairbanks or Anchorage, but I know they never run it here in Valdez. Our apartment is upstairs which is nice with the light, but it can get really hot. We usually just open the windows when we get in at night during planning, and it cools it off enough that we're fine, we also have a fan so those are all helpful! I just hope August heat in Utah won't kill me..haha
We had a very..unexpected week in a lot of ways. haha We were planning on going straight back on our jolly way to Valdez on Wednesday when we get a call from Sister Beesley asking us to stay in the bowl (Wasilla-Anchorage) until Friday after Zone Meeting so we could be there in person instead of just webcasting in. To my relief, I had felt impressed to throw in a couple extra clothes so I was covered with clean clothes for the full week. We spent Wednesday working with the YSA elders in looking for people, and then Thursday we drove into Anchorage and got to see S & L of Turnagain, and we had dinner with the "A"'sfrom Rabbit Creek ward! That was the first time I had gone back to Rabbit Creek at all since I left so it was really fun to see them and ask them how things are going in the ward! It was very nostalgic!
It was good to get back to Valdez finally by Saturday, we spent Friday night at the chapel in Glennallen again. I was really missing the people and it was so good to see W & T and her boys at church yesterday! W will be moving into town this week which will be so good! It will a much better atmosphere for her! T and that family are still looking for a place to live so hopefully they'll find something sooner than later.
Valdez is still here, and it sounds like we'll be driving in to Wasilla to "Meet the Robinsons" on Thursday evening and then back on Friday afternoon. So that's another 10 hours of driving this week. So.. we'll essentially be spending our 4th of July in a car.. haha, it will be fun to meet the new mission president though. :)
It's been so fun to show Valdez to Sister Grayson. It has reminded me of the first time I saw Valdez and just the excitement, wonder, and beauty I saw here. It's a lot like we when teach people the gospel, they get so excited and it reminds me of how exciting it is that we have this knowledge! Valdez is beautiful, and the gospel is too!
Love you lots!
Posted by Marissa at 7:39 PM
Monday, June 23, 2014
First things first, I'm currently in Palmer, AK sitting next to two of my best friends, Sister Dotson and my left and ... SISTER GRAYSON ON MY RIGHT! Now, you may be wondering the significance in who I'm sitting with.. well, Sister Grayson is coming to Valdez next transfer and we'll be ending our missions together! How lucky is that that I get to begin and end my mission with her?! How many people get to end their missions with their MTC companion?? I'm so happy, and I cried for like five minutes after President Beesley told me because I was so happy!
Sister Dotson will be taking her place up in North Pole as a trainer and I know she'll just do a fabulous job! There are.. wait for it.. SIX new sisters coming out next transfer!! That will be a huge increase!
The baptism was incredible. It was the most spiritual experience of my entire life. "W" was so happy and it was one of those days that just makes everything worth it. As soon as she came out of the water she just started to cry and the spirit that filled the room was so sweet. I have no doubt that the atonement is real. She bore her testimony at the baptism and shared more of her story. Two years ago her life just turned upside down for the worst. She went though a few trials that I couldn't even imagine having to overcome.. Through all of this she said she was a little mad at God and said, "If this is all happening for a reason I better see some burning bush!!" Recently afterward she moved to Homer where she lived in the same apartment complex as the elders down there! She had a really good impression of them but was just confused why they were elder since they looked 12 to her! Haha eventually a few months later a lady came to town for work and she was really impressed with her and started to become friends. She asked what gave her so much hope and happiness, and she said it was being a member of this church! She invited her to come to church and it wasn't until finally this May, right after moving here to Valdez, that she went. That sacrament meeting was exactly what she needed and since then as she's learned she knows it is true by the still small voice she feels. Her baptismal interview had to be over the phone because of the distance, and as she was talking to our district leader she realized.. he was the 12-year-old elder from Homer! Isn't that amazing? So the baptism was incredible and everything came together really well, from the music to the talks they were all very well prepared.
"T" has been on fire and came to church with both of her boys again this week. Her sons also came to scouts this past week and had a blast!! It was neat, when we were over there, I mentioned we'd probably be able to get them white shirts and ties to wear to church if that'd make them feel more comfortable, and they both said they would like that! Maybe that's not a big deal, but to me I thought it was pretty cool and said they were serious about it, especially because what teenage boy wants to wear a white shirt and tie?! Toni and one of her sons also came to the baptism and I was talking to her afterwards and asking her how she felt and she just said, "You know how there are certain things in life that you really want, and other things that you just really need? Well tonight as "W" was bearing her testimony I realized this is something I need. It was another brick on the platform." She is just incredible, and the ward has just been rockstars at reaching out and fellowshipping them and "W" both!
"J" also was at church so I was glad he was there to see "W" confirmed. He leaves Valdez about the same time as we will, so we'll have to do everything we can for him to feel the spirit and so he'll hopefully notice a difference when he's not going to church.
We also finally got to meet with "M", she has been so busy but is still just amazing! She's read all of 1 Nephi and says it is certainly her "literature of choice" right now! So hopefully next transfer will provide us with more opportunities to meet with her!
So this is sad I haven't mentioned this earlier, but you guys can actually watch our transfer meetings if you want to.. haha! The info is:
Important: go to Website about 15 min early so the stream can stabilize
I might be playing a musical number (not sure yet) but that's 1:00-3:00 so might be fun, might be boring, might make you trunky for me.. haha either way that's an option I should have told you like 16 months ago.. haha
Also in other cool Turnagain news, "K" and "L" both contacted me this week telling me they'll be going through the temple this next month! Both asked me to go through with them at some point, so hopefully I'll be able to pull that off, I really really want to! It's just amazing to me that even though it's been since September that I've basically seen them, that they've both chosen to continue pressing forward and what an amazing step they'll be making this next month!! Unfortunately, I think we'll be on too much of a time crunch to see them this week but I'm thinking end of July or beginning of August, and we'll be able to make it back to Anchorage!!
Well I love you all so so much! Thanks you each for the amazing example you are to me, for the prayers and emails!
Posted by Marissa at 4:21 PM