Monday, June 30, 2014

Bear with me

Hello family,

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!

Sister Hedelius

Monday, June 23, 2014

All's well that [begins and] ends well!

Hola Familia!

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!

Sister Hedelius

Monday, June 16, 2014

Food to die for


Since you all are braggin about the great fruit of the lower 48 I have to tell you about my meal last night! Talk about Alaska King Crab! During dinner they were all talking about how dangerous of an occupation crabbing is, they even made a show about it "Deadliest Catch" if you've heard of it? Crab are often in the more dangerous water so that's what makes it so risky. That meal was probably the best one of my mission so I guess if I can't have the fresh yummy fruit, I'll take the fresh seafood. :) the meat in those crab legs were the width of hot dogs!

Also this week we were dropping by something at the O'Neil's home (he's in the bishopric) and they offered us some salmon chowder. The salmon in the chowder was Copper River Salmon and you about have to kill yourself to get those fish. The fishermen tie themselves down so when they're standing in the water they won't be taken with the current because it's so swift, but it's the best salmon and I was not disappointed! It was incredible. We've been really spoiled with our seafood here..I'm afraid I'm becoming a seafood snob.. haha Nothing in the lower 48 will satisfy anymore! However, all this talk of amazing seafood does not excuse you all from having a watermelon sitting on the counter on August 6th.

I believe it was dad that was curious about how we're sleeping with the sun. Well at first we were lazy and just tacked a blanket over the window, but that still wasn't keeping the light out enough, so we put foil on the windows again and since we live in kind of a junky apartment and don't have a door for our bedroom, we hung a blanket over our door so the light from the others room wouldn't come in. It's funny how you'd think the light would make it easier to wake up, but it's actually been easier now that the room is dark because I feel like I'm getting better quality sleep and I'm not as tired anymore! Sister Dotson and I are also waking up a little early so we can go on a longer run which I'm sure is helping us sleep even better too!

Baptism is still on for Saturday (it's THIS Saturday as in the 21st!) and she is so ready! When we went through the interview questions some of her answers just blew me away. She retained everything we taught her andhere some of the analogies she used just amazed me. She is so solid and I can't wait to keep in touch and hear how her journey continues to go! She has gone through so many trials these past few weeks including all of her friends and everyone she considers family unadding her as a friend of Facebook and completely turning their back on her, and yet her answer always is, "I've seen what I saw, and I felt what I felt, and I can't turn back on that." Her response when they thought she was crazy was to invite them to church! It just reminds me of the Lamanties that the sons of Mosiah taught, some had soft hearts, and others had hard hearts, Windy has just an amazing heart.

"J" came again to church this week! It's a reminder that every investigator has their own pace. Some people are like "W" and are just a sponge, and others take each step slowly, but what matters is he is taking those steps. We also had a lesson with him and it was probably the most spiritual lesson we've had with him so far! Sometimes those lessons can get really off topic, but we managed to stay pretty focused and the spirit was definitely there.

"T" is just on fire. She's amazing and will probably the next baptism. If we don't text her every day then she's texting us! She is very seriously considering baptism, and the biggest thing holding her back right now is her less active husband. She just doesn't want the church to come between their marriage. That's got to be about the toughest concern to resolve.. but she and her son Cody were at church again this week! It's been fun to see the Gospel Principle's class grow and grow and grow from hardly needing a class to it being so full!!

We've finally got back in contact with "C" also this week! It's been so good to see her. We left her with the Testaments to watch and she was sick later in the week and planning on watching it while she was sick. "C" also has a daughter that lives just a couple houses down from us and has some handicaps but everytime we see her she says, "My sisters!" and gives us a big hug! So that is so good we've finally been able to get back in contact with her! And her bird Curious is still as chatty as ever. :) Luckily we haven't heard any swear words from him lately.. let's hope that doesn't change. ;)

Thanks so much for the emails and love! Transfer calls come this Friday, so keep President and Sister Beesley in your prayers that they'll be inspired to feel like I need to stay another transfer! ;) haha I'm banking on it!

Love you guys!
Sister Hedelius

Monday, June 9, 2014

Happy bird and half-bird days!

Hi family!

First off, shout out to the little people that will be turning 17 and 14 and 1/2 tomorrow! Can't believe you both are so old.. The other day I almost told someone I was 19 only to realize I turn 21 next month, I think my brain just hasn't had a good concept time since January 2013.. haha

It's been a crazy week!! Crazy as in awesome miracles week! The "E"s came to church yesterday and loved it! Although they were planning on going every other week, "T" talked to me after church and said she wanted to come again next week but wanted to talk to her boys and see what they wanted to do first. One of the member families went to go visit them yesterday after church, and the members reported back to us that they are planning on coming again next week! Yay! Another cool story about them is that "T" is friends with a less-active member that hasn't come to church for a long long time.. Toni told her she had to come with her this Sunday and she came! So basically "T" is already fellowshipping the less-actives and she isn't even a member yet.. haha!

"W" also was at church and out of no prompting from us she invited "T" to her baptism next weekend! Windy is so excited for her baptism and when it was announced in Relief Society she was grinning from ear to ear!! She also is now moving in town to the basement apartment of one of the members! It will be perfect and right across the street from her fellowshipper's house!

"J" was at church too! He gave some great insights in gospel principles!!! He let us know he wants to meet with us this week and gave us a couple times to work so it will be good to see him since we didn't get a chance to meet up this past week!

We've been doing lots of service this week! We helped the Es a lot, also a family in our ward (the Bazcuks) are awesome missionaries and set up a time for us to clean a family's house that they've been working with! They took us out to breakfast before and oh my word.. so much food! Haha I don't think I even ate lunch because I was still full!

Lots of good things happening here! I love it!! I'm banking on staying next transfer hence Valdez will be my resting spot! Two more weeks left in this transfer though! We'll get the call on the 20th! "The time is far spent, there is little remaining.."

Love you all!

Sister Hedelius

Monday, June 2, 2014

You know you might be Alaskan if it's June 2 and you're still wearing your winter coat...

Hi F^2 (a.k.a. Friends and Family ;) ),

So the weather here has been quite the opposite of the work. While the work is getting hotter, the weather is getting colder, but I'll take it. :) I'd much rather have that than the opposite! It's been chilly and we even saw fresh snow in the mountains. Someone told us there is a 70% chance of snow today, but I'm hoping that 30% will favor us!

Sorry again for the short email last week, things have just been so busy that we honestly didn't have anytime until today! This email might be on the extra long side just because there is SO much that has happened (Tuesday in itself could have been a whole long email!) But I'll try my best to not leave out any details (as requested by dad :) )

Zone Conference was two weeks ago which resulted in permanent scars on the inside of my throat. Just kidding, but kind of not. For part of zone conference we went on a hike and for an activity and we "held to the iron rod" (a rope) that lead us through weeds and branches etc.. so here I am on my merry way just holding to this rope when a bear comes barreling through the trees... (this is where the damaged wind pipe comes into the picture) and of course it comes straight to me, and of course it took me several seconds before I realize it's only an Elder dressed in a bear skin. No need to fear, my heart has recovered but that was exciting to say the least. The rest of Zone Conference was great as well! There were many trainings that proved to be really helpful and have helped us a lot this week as we've worked! 

A highlight of being in Anchorage was visiting several of my people! We had dinner with the Willis' Monday night (one of my favorite families from Inlet View) and we also got to see Karen and Laura, two Turnagain people! Poor Karen hurt her shoulder so badly! She's been working on getting to the temple and when I told her when I'll be shipped out she wrote it on her calendar so we can go to the temple before! She's hoping to get a temple recommend and go through while she's down south,and then we'll be able to go through some time before August 6th!
Laura is working on the temple too! It amazes me to see how much she has changed since I first met her last August. She said she hasn't had coffee for over a month now and she's been going to church every week!!  Woot woot!

So we stayed with the Palmar sisters while we were in Wasilla for Zone Conference and.. the water wasn't working!! So a sweet lady in one of the other wards opened up their home for us to shower in the morning.. That was certainly nice of them and helped us not feel quite as gross! Also we went on splits with the sisters there and it just so happened that one of the ladies that we stopped by was a former missionary in Glennallen! She was able to get a few phone numbers that we didn't have as well as more information and direction so we went though it would be easier to find the members there.

We rushed straight home from Palmar to a leadership meeting and that meeting probably changed my life! It was sooo good. It was by Brother Donaldson in Salt Lake and he works with the missionary department. We were able to ask him questions and he talked to us about new ideas and making sure we're approachable etc. Implementing his ideas have been so helpful this week!

We had a fun memorial day last week regardless of not being able to email ya'll of course! :) The Relief Society president (Sister Belnap) had us over for lunch and then we spent the afternoon playing some games with our investigator J that they've been awesome at fellowshipping. Then we went to the O'Neil's (he's in the bishopric) and had a fish fry. . . oh my word that food was about to die for. Some of the best fish I've ever had! So it was a fun day! Today is the first cold p-day in a while.. which might actually be a good thing because it gives us a reason to stay in and write letters and clean instead of going and playing outside.. haha it's been so nice most Mondays that we spend the whole day playing in the mountains instead of preparing for the week.. cough cough. President Beesley recently reminded us that the P in p-day stands for preparation, not play.. opps. ;)

The other week I got to asked to play at Lilly Belnap's baptism which was really neat! J came too which was perfect and he mentioned how touched he was. It was very apparent he felt the spirit! I love baptisms for that reason. They are one of the most spiritual meetings in the church!!

Okay so now here is the good stuff.. following up about last week!  M is incredible! She was at a dinner we had when all the missionaries were here! So listen to this, she was the leader of religious teaching for one of the churches here in town and that was her job, but she just barely resigned a few weeks ago! She told us she's been "church hopping" and looking for a new church. We taught her the restoration and she just attached to it! When we gave her a Book of Mormon she was like "I'll see how much I can read this week, but I might not finish it by our next lesson!" Haha we just told her to read as much as should could and to pray! She is super sincere and she even invited Sister Pankau (the lady that had us all over for dinner) to come to our next lesson! So perfect!

OKAY and W! Man I don't even know where to start with her.. She is just incredible! I don't think I've ever taught someone that is so excited about learning about the gospel. Although she grew up in a rough life, she is truly seeing the healing power of the atonement and yesterday at church she mentioned that she feel at peace about things in her life that she hasn't felt peace over for years. She is so pumped for her baptism on the 21st and already started inviting people! We gave her a calendar leading up for her baptism and she mentioned she's not even on call the week before her baptism. Per-fect. I don't know if I mentioned her story before, but just out of the blue she came to church on Mother's Day, and usually she just hates Mother's Day, but it ended up being exactly what she needed to hear. There have been so many incredible experiences leading her to this point in her life. She works at the hospital where several other members work, and she use to live in Homer and she lived in the same apartment complex as the elders there. She noticed their quite positive example and heard more about us as missionaries (how we're away from our families and don't have a lot of money for food etc.) and started leaving them food! Isn't that so cute?! So anyways, she's just about as golden as gold can get and it's been such a privilege to get to be part of her journey.

Another amazing experience started last Monday night! There was family the elders tracted into that just so happened to be a part-member family. They mentioned that we could come back and we'd been meaning to for a couple weeks but we'd been so busy that we hadn't gotten to it. Monday night Sister Dotson mentioned that we should try the E and it was perfect. We knocked on the door and a teenage boy answered the door. It was apparent that he had some hearing problems but we asked if he mom was home. She was in the back and as soon as she came to the door it was as if I could see right into her heart. Looking at her she looked fine but I had the feeling that something wasn't right. The feeling was so strong that I burst into tears and asked her if she was okay! That prompted her to start crying and she mentioned that they were getting kicked out of their apartment Saturday and didn't know what they were going to do from there. She also mentioned other concerned and challenges and she asked if we'd pray with her. We prayed and then set up a time to come and help her clean and pack. We contacted the bishop and although her husband is against the church (apparently he was forced to go growing up so it kind of turned him off from it) he sat and talked to the bishop this week and Sister Emerald mentioned how much peace she felt afterwards. They were moving a bunch of stuff into storage Friday but we were going to Glennallen for the day and so we wouldn't be able to be there to help. We contacted a few people though and they helped load up everything and she just mentioned what a help that was! We had just taken more of the service approach with her but Saturday she texted us asking if we could talk to her about the church some time. We set up a time to meet with her yesterday and she said her boys were so impressed with the service from the church members that they wanted to learn more. She's Lutheran, so she's planning on going to the Lutheran church every other week and ours the opposite weeks, as well as meeting with us! So that was pretty incredible! I wish I was better at typing out stories.. it's just been amazing.. Oh and they have two different options from the members for housing so they won't be homeless! Everything has worked out!

We went to Glennallen all day with our Relief Society president which was a blast! I just love her so much, she's just incredible! She is quite a bit younger and I kind of think of her as an older sister! I just adore that family. We were able to see a new sister while we were there. She's a 74 lady with.. wait for it.. pink highlights! Yep! Straight up! I guess something has to make things exciting when you live in the middle of nowhere! We had a great day, I've decided Sister Belnap deserves a trophy for spending the whole day with us.

We also had a dinner with an awesome family last night that is on fire with missionary work! They're the family that we fasted with to know how to share the gospel! They all came up with a plan that should go through his week! I'll have to tell you more about it next week!

I'm running out of time! I'm sorry I wish I could write (because I have so much more to write about!!) but I better go! Thanks for the love and support! Anyone who read this whole letter probably deserves an award.. ;) haha love you guys!

Sister Hedelius