Day: October 17, 2008

Visiting Indiana

It is now Thursday October 16th and I have been home since Sunday from my business/mission trip that I took last week.  I meant to update my blog much sooner about the recent goings on but it has been go-go-go ever since I got back.  I often say that I need 2 or 3 days off after traveling in order to recover.  Sadly it was not the case. I don’t know how my father is able to function with all of his travel.  It’s exhausting!

That said- I had a great trip.  The first part of it was in Michigan where I was trained on how to set up our warmer booth at various events.  I learned more about the types of warmers we carry, and the history of the product-along with the type of salesmanship that works at warm team events. On the whole, it was a good trip and my first business trip was a success! I still can’t believe I am old enough to go on a business trip.  How did this happen?

Once I was finished with work on Thursday, I drove to my first area on the mission-Angola Indiana.  To drive into a location that formed so much of my character was a weird sensation.  It was on one hand underwhelming to see through common eyes and on the other completely overwhelming because of the memories that came pouring with each street, store and site. The whole time I was in Indiana I felt like I was in a museum of my life. All these artifacts that would mean nothing to others made me well over in tears. It’s an odd and overwhelming experience to try and go back in the past.

While I was touring the mission I listened to a radio program about blogging and the woman being interviewed said that in her blog she “tries to only tell my story”.  In other words, don’t bring in the life stories of others so that you can protect their privacy.  I understand what she was saying but the task seems impossible.  How can I write an authentic portrayal of my life without including the stories of those who touch me? I only hope every mention of others in my blog is complimentary if not glowing with praise. I will certainly remove anything if asked.

With that understanding let me tell a little about the people I saw in Indiana.  Starting with Angola, I stayed with Sister Bork (still hard for me to call her Jackie.  It’s how I was raised).  She was a great host, and I enjoyed reconnecting with her.  I hope that my visit provided some comfort and companionship (even if for only 2 nights) during a tough time in her life.  She is a great lady who saved me from starving on many occasions on my mission.   We used to specifically tract around her house because we knew we could count on her for a cup of cocoa or a meal if we didn’t have a dinner.  There was one night I particularly remember where we had tracted all day in the snow.  It was hard work, and we were starving.  We stopped at the Borks, and we must have looked like quite the site!  Sister Bork was making breakfast for dinner and we wolfed everything down.  I think I ate 4 or 5 fried eggs, toast, hashbrowns, and more!

This is the first house I lived in on my mission.  It is such a shack! How did I live there for 6 months!
This is the first house I lived in on my mission. It is such a shack! How did I live there for 6 months!

You see, that is the type of small memory that flooded my mind around every corner in Indiana.  It was emotional and amazing. It’s hard to describe in words.

In Angola I also had the treat of seeing others from the branch, getting an update on everyone and particularly seeing my friend Sarah Garner who was my rock on the mission.  She has a sweetness and sincerity that I admire.  I just wish she could understand how great she is. If you are reading this Sarah- it is true!

Finally, I got the privilege of seeing a family I taught in Angola named the Aronens. Since they had changed their emails, I had not kept in touch the way I would have liked.  It was so great to see them and again it brought back every memory of each discussion.  It meant a lot to me that they still had the photo of Sister Servito and I with their girls on their living room wall.  I know they have many struggles but it warms my heart to know they are thinking of me along the way.  It was good to hear they are active and doing great.  Their girls are so big. I can hardly believe it.  Regina is in 6th grade!  Wow! They are a family that I feel I was meant to find and teach the gospel to.  That is a great feeling to know and it’s something I carry with me when I am struggling.  One of the ways I know that the Lord loves me is because he let me help the Aronen’s find the gospel.

This is Regina and Brianna
This is Regina and Brianna
Melody Aronen
Melody Aronen

Moving on to Indianapolis (which by the way- I thought I might remember how to get around places, and I didn’t recognize one building! Not one street! Good thing I rented  a GPS unit.  Saved my life!).  I arrived on Saturday morning and was greeted by Sister Leonard whose home I lived in during my 6 months in Indy. It turns out I was lucky to see her, as she has been out of town for the last 2 months, and is going out of town again in a couple of weeks.  It was great to reconnect and reminisce.  So much has changed in her life and in the life of the ward since I left.  There is a whole new stake, and I hardly recognized anyone at church.

At Sister Leonards I went down into the sister’s basement apartment and again was flooded by memories.  I thought of Sister Graves sleeping on a bed on the floor as happy as can be.  I thought of Sister Livingston doing sit-ups while reading the scriptures and eating an apple (she’s got a gift for multitasking).  I thought of Sister Hathaway struggling over her lessons each day.  More than that, however, I thought of the time on my knees I had spent in that little apartment.  The times I had poured my heart out to the Lord trying to have the energy to work hard and love the people- trying to get the answers for investigators and then thanking the Lord when they would come.  I also couldn’t help but remember the struggles- the sore feet, the canceled appointments, the squabbles with companions.  All of those memories are part of the story of my mission and they are special, even sacred.

Our little basement apartment at Sister Leonards house
Our little basement apartment at Sister Leonards house
Sister Leonard and I.  She helped me and so many sisters feel loved and at home on the mission.
Sister Leonard and I. She helped me and so many sisters feel loved and at home on the mission.

Being in that little apartment made me want to be a better person.  On my mission I was such a visible servant of the Lord.  Every day I had a clear purpose. I know we have that each day as normal members but it isn’t quite the same.  Nevertheless, I want to do better, be better, live with more of an attitude of service. I want to make sure I am where the Lord needs me, when He needs me.

One last comment- I think it is easy to feel that our little lives don’t make much of a difference in the world. I sometimes wonder if I should be braver, more bold.  In Indiana I realized that I do make a difference- that I do matter.  There was one experience in Indianapolis when my companions and I felt prompted to visit a lady who had been having marital problems.  To be more blunt she was being abused.  At the time, we debated about whether visiting a member was the best use of our time (the elder’s had been riding us about not spending time with members) but we felt prompted to go and see her.  When we got to her house her husband had been arrested and  taken away.  This was a big step for her, and we helped her through the night until we had to leave.  I have thought about that moment and wondered what ever happened to the woman.  Well, on Sunday I got to see her, and she told me something that made me cry- no weep.  She said that when she is sad or lonely she thinks of that moment and knows that the Lord loves her.  When I heard that I was beyond words.  It amazes me to know that my attempt to serve helps someone years later to feel of the Lord’s love.

I am so grateful that we listened and am grateful to the Lord for letting me know that my service as a missionary mattered. I cry now just thinking of it. It was like a giant hug from my Heavenly Father. I am so comforted by the knowledge that what I do each day is important to the Lord- more than that- what I do is guided by the Lord.  What a humbling thought that is.  That moment was worth the whole trip, and I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving it to me.

In closing, visiting my mission was a wonderful experience.  My mission was a wonderful experience. Life is a wonderful experience.  I just hope that I can be the type of person I was as a missionary- living a life guided by the Lord, full of His grace and goodness.  It will not be easy,my mission wasn’t easy, but as the cliche goes- it was and is worth it.

The woman we helped and her daughter.
The woman we helped and her daughter.
The speedway track.  I did the full tour this time
The speedway track. I did the full tour this time
Winner Winner!
Winner Winner!
The finish line.  Tradition is to kiss the bricks after you win.
The finish line. Tradition is to kiss the bricks after you win.
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