Hola Familia! This is Sister Limas reporting from Glen Carbon, Illinois!
So leaving Paris...that was uber hard. Sunday and Monday, there were tears from others which left me absolutely heartbroken. It was all just so weird to be leaving. I guess it hadn't completely kicked in because I wasn't bawling. Ha, but the bawling eventually came. We had our last district meeting on Tuesday and i was just crying all over the place! Not just me, but most of our district too. Oh, I hate goodbyes! They are so hard! Our whole district was getting split, I was leaving my first area, I was getting seperated from Sister Fernandez, I was leaving my Paris family....agh. There was just a lot to cry about.
at transfer meeting I looked for Sister Anderson and Sister Calton because those were the sisters Sister Linton and I were white-washing out. Sister Anderson came out 4 weeks after I did, and she trained Sister Calton the same time I trained Sister Fernandez. I just love them both (not that I've known them for that long haha transfer meeting was the most I've ever talked to the two). But they just said GREAT things about their area...great ward, awesome members, great mission leader. Whew! So I was super excited to get to our apartment. Well, I now live in a 2-story apartment. It's 2 floors, but I dont think it's bigger than the "mansion" i had in Paris :P but its great. Its also great exercise going up and down the stairs XD We made cookies last night and we are going to deliver them to our neighbours so we can try to get to know them better. The past few days have been extremely slow and I was definitely feeling the pressure over the weekend. And the members talk a lot about Anderson and Calton because they were both greenies in Glen Carbon (kinda my situation in Paris...so I totes understand). Saturday was just super frustrating. We had a plan...but it was terrible!! LOL (yes, i'm laughing now, but i was just so frustrated on saturday). We planned to ride bikes over to a less active family who had one of our investigators living with them. BAD IDEA. My bike was still in St Louis so we used the bikes in the apartment. Mine was waaaay to small so it was difficult to pump up the hill, AND the brakes were broken! OKAY, good thing I didn't die going down all those hills! We get to the place (and here I am used to less-actives being super nice and wanting to talk to us) and the less-active didnt want to let us in, was stand-offish and said he didn't believe in God. AND our investigator wasn't even at home. Ou, I was not happy with that bike ride with no result from it. So we get home and my body is sore from the peddaling. We ended up taking the car to all our other appointments....and STILL no one was home -.-" A member offered to come meet us at Collinsville so she could introduce us to a recent convert...but then her van wouldn't start so we were there standing in the cold, dark CVS parking lot jump-starting her car for 20 minutes. Her van finally works and we drive over to Gino's (the recent convert) and Sis Clements (the member driving) says, "oh bytheway, this isn't a good neighboudhood. It's really sketchy and you have to be careful". Did I mention I'm in the same district as the East St. Louis elders? (Haha AJ and Ana Scheiner gave me pink pepper spray to carry in my purse for safety lol). So we get out of the van, and walk down the sketchy street, and this man goes "hey who are you?!" Ohhhh man. I was so nervous, thank GOODNESS sis clements was with us. The man stopped us cuz he thought we were up to no good (lol WHAT?!) and he didnt want us stealing his car (ooookay). BUT THEN, we started talking to him (Manuel is his name) and he was telling us how he wants to change his life, and that he's 40 with a wife and kid and he should be fixing himself up. OH. MY. GOODNESS! It was so awesome! We invited him to come to chuch, gave him a book of mormon, and set up another appointment! We are going to see him tomorrow evening and apparently he is inviting all his friends to come here the message :D WHAT. A. MIRACLE. Btws, Gino wasn't even home after we talked to Manuel. Go figure. But it was such a great experience. Heavenly Father really is aware of all His children, and miracles can be found even in the sketchiest parts of town :) And that experience truly was a gift from Heavenly Father because the whole day I was like "Heavenly Father what is happening? Why aren't we getting anywhere?" And then He blessed us with Manuel. Sister Clememnts took us out for dinner afterwards, and I had a bad migrane and was on the verge of throwing up the whole time we were in the restaurant. (But see, Heavenly Father has a sense of humour and totally works miracles because I was feeling crummy all day and He only let it subside when we talked to Manuel. He really does provide the strength, and I can attest to that over and over again) And so when we finally get home, my companion commands me to put on the PJs and go strait to bed. I wake up the next morning, my head still buzzing because all night I was trying to figure out the work in my sleep. Oh goodness. But when I said my morning prayers I received comforting peace. At first I was all "Heavenly Father wha do we do?! We still havent met a ton of members, we dont knw who our investigators are, and they aren't even solid. I have nooo idea where to start with this area! And Heavenly Father was like, "calm down Sister Limas. You know what to do. You and Sister Ash white-washed Paris. Remember how slow you two first stared off? And how's the succss in that area now? You know exactly what to do". So I bonked myself in my head and said DUH, thanked Heavenly Father, and discussed the plans with Sister Linton. So now we have an idea of what to work with and came up wih some finding ideas (baking cookies for our neighbours; offering to rake everyone's lawns; etc). WHEW :)
And I have also started studying chapter 1 in Preach My Gospel again. Its just funny to see the notes I have in that section from right before I came out and then the notes I have in there now. A lot of the time I feel like I'm not learning as much as I should or if I'm even changing. And then I see something I wrote from the past and compare it to what I know now. I definitely have learned and definitely have grown. Its funny cuz as a missionary I have lots of moments like that. Where I feel like i'm not getting anywhere. But Heavenly Father has been gracious each and every time and reminds me how far I've come. I will quote Dustin Farris on this one: "When I go home I'll still be [Ariana]. Just a better one." I'm still me. Same quirks, weirdities, and all. But when I'm done, I'll be a better version of me, and still just starting the growth process :)
Now let me tell you about the members. They were all super welcoming. Sister Clements is the mission mom. She drives the missionaries everywhere, and she's just so cool to be around. James Cathey, one of the recent converts, is a JOKER! He pulls pranks on everybody and gives everyone nicknames (mine is Limp. I dont see where that came from). Anyway, the previous sisters and sister clements have already warned us abou James' pranks, so when we go over to his house i'm just like "meh". But then he lets his flipping bird out of its cage and i start freaking out like mad. And i didn't mean to! i tried to contain it all in, but everytime that bird flapped it's wings, I "eeked" and threw my head into my companion's lap. James was laughing so hard because none of his pranks were working, but his dumb bird was totally getting to me. Bishop Rawson is super nice. He's been the Bishop since February (i think) and he is totally focused on the missionay work in the branch. they have a really good team of ward missionaries. Everyone was just super friendly. The Hawks (kinda like the Randolphs in Paris. There are so many of them!), were uber nice to us too. And their kids are adorbs. Oh and get this....THERE IS A FILIPINO IN MY WARD!!!!! Oh my goodness, let me tellllll you, I have never been so excited to see a Filipino in my life!!!! Do you know how bad I crave Filipino food? Members in Paris were kind enough to make me lumpia and adobo. But here there was an actual filipino standing right in front of me. Hallelujah.
So yes, those are the adventures of the Glen Carbon sisters. Sister Linton is great. She actuall cooks meals for lunch. I feel so spoiled. And our humour the same. I couldn't talk about Ella with any of my companions, but I just had to bring it up and Sister Linton starts laughing and I'm like "score!" Hahaha. And she's teaching me how to crochet blankets! Fun stuff. Glen Carbon reminds me a lot of home. It's still not Toronto, but hey, there are actually more stop lights, and strip malls. Finally. And when we're driving down hills, we can see the ach on the horizon...just like at home with the CN Tower :)
To end this off, I just want to put down the lyrics of a song that popped into my head during personal study today. I was reading in Mosiah 5.
"Have you received His image in your countenance?
Does the light of Christ shine in your eyes?
Will you know Him when He comes again because you shall be like Him?
When He sees you will the Father know His child
By His everlasting image in your eyes?"
Keep your covenants and strive to do what Jesus would. By the little steps and choices we take each and every day, we either get closer or further away from becoming like our Saviour. It's all up to you. So be good, be happy, and press forward y'all!
I hope you all have a fab week!
Hopefully this week doesn’t kill me ;)
Mucho Lovin' from Sister Limas
Me and Paris' awesome branch mission leader Bro Randolph!
Ana and AJ Scheiner
My lovely district :)