Tuesday, May 3, 2016

3/21-3/27/2016: Subject: Masters of deception

Sorry I didn't send this out last week!!!!

"It is often difficult to be different and to stand alone in a
crowd. It is natural to fear what others might think or say.
Comforting are the words of the psalm: “The Lord is my light and my
salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of
whom shall I be afraid?” As we make Christ the center of our lives,
our fears will be replaced by the courage of our convictions." (Pres
Monson, Be an example and a Light, October 2015 conference)

he says to remember that it is natural to feel afraid of standing out
(and uncomfortable may I add!). However, with the Lord on our side, we
can have that strength to be courageous to be an example of what we
need to be. Remember courage is not the absence of fear to face a
situation- it is the strength to be afraid and to face those fears
that are in front of you. To have courage, YOU HAVE TO BE AFRAID; YOU
I recently read a story about lobsters and how they grow. The actual
animal of the lobster is a soft, pink squishy thing inside the shell.
It is all the muscles of the lobster and where all the growth of the
animal occurs. It's not on the hard outer shell that grows. Their
shell actually doesn't grow at all! How does the lobster grow then?
Well- when he starts to get uncomfortable, a little too big for his
shell, he will find a nice rock, and underneath it he will shed his
shell and grow a new one that is a little big on him. He grows into
that one, until again he is uncomfortable and squished, and then he
will shed it and grow a new one. The animal doesn't grow unless it is
UNCOMFORTABLE. If the lobster didn't get uncomfortable, it would never
desire to shed its shell. It would remain the size it was born in for
its entire life. It wouldn't get any bigger.
If we don't experience a little bit of discomfort, you have no reason
to grow. If you never acknowledge the fact that you are afraid, that
you are uncomfortable, you will never have room to grow!
We need to cherish those moments in our lives that give us the
opportunity to have courage- those moments that we have the chance to
e afraid, the chance to be uncomfortable. Stand alone. Follow Christ.
With his grace, we can have the courage to face those opportunities to
grow, and to become the children of God that only he knows we can

Kinda mellow day. Went to the institute building and played my normal
3-4 games of ping pong (the only way one gets better is with practice,
right?) and a little bit of pool. I also seem to be really good at
pool for some reason, or at least compared to the other missionaries
in the zone. The only reason I lost is because I hit the 8 ball into a
pocket that I didn't call. Dang rules! But after that we went to the
stake center and played chair soccer. Basically it is free-for-all
soccer, but the goal of the game is to get everyone else out by
hitting their chair. It's a fun game, but it's not nearly as exciting
and heart-pumping as regular soccer is. I'm also starting to think
that the zone as a while has banned pod ball. It sort of makes sense-
it gets really intense, really fast, and for some reason there always
seems to be some sort of hard feelings afterwards. Oh well, it was fun
while it lasted. After that the sisters wanted to play some sort of
girls camp games, so us and the zone leaders (the only elders there)
found some good reasons to be gone. Elder Hansen and I went to Walmart
and to Wells Fargo to take care of some errands, and then we decided
it would probably be good if we cleaned our apartment at least a
little bit: we headed home and did a little bit of cleaning.
We had dinner with the Bowdidges today, and that is super awesome
because both brother and sister Bowdidge are less active, and then non
of their kids are baptized members. It's like a goldmine, for
missionaries! We had some good Taco bowls- sister Bowdidge is
literally the health and nutrition representative for the Missoula
county, so in at least all of Missoula, she knows how to cook healthy
stuff and make it good! We love her! We almost killed her though- she
asked us what we ate at home. When we told her that our diet this
transfer has consisted of corn dogs, hot pockets, and cold cereal, she
just about had a heart attack. She told us that she wasn't going to
let us leave until we had something with us that was better and would
still hold us over. She wouldn't let us leave without taking a whole
big tote bag full of food and stuff home. Now we have more stuff than
we can fit in our unorganized fridge, but I guess that's a good
problem to have, right?
Had a lot of service planned to do today, which is always nice. First,
we had to clean our apartment, so we are counting that as service for
ourselves haha. We were just tired of it being dirty and of all the
stuff just piling up so I just started cleaning, and then Elder Hansen
just kinda joined in. After a while of doing that, we had another
project to go take care of.... The Slabaughs.
Okay, so we walked over to the Slabaughs house, expecting to just take
up some leaves and some pine cones. No big deal, right? And as we
walked up to their trailer it didn't seem like that big of a deal
either. There wasn't many pine cones in their tiny yard for us to
rake! So we went inside and talked with them for a while about how
their life was going, and then brother slabaugh went outside to look
for their rakes so we could get started. As he left his wife started
rattling something off about how the thieves in the neighborhood were
getting to be too much and something like that. I don't know, she is
an older lady and I had a hard time listening to her haha. After like
20 minutes or so brother slabaugh came back inside and said that he
couldn't find the rake. Sister slabaugh said something to him about
how his eyes were so bad he just didn't see it, and then she handed us
the keys to go look for it. So we climbed into this shed- probably the
size of our bedroom- that was packed FULL with just a bunch of stuff.
My companion and I just looked at each other, shrugged, and went in
for it. We climbed around in there for probably a good 30 minutes,
trying to find the dumb rake.
We gave up at 30 minutes and just went back to the house to let the
slabaughs know that we couldn't find it.
I think that Elder Hansen worded the rest of this experience better than I could
"Sister Slabaugh talked to us for a bit. Elder Wallgren and I
listened. She casually remarked how she was thinking about taking one
too many of her pills and going to sleep. Elder Wallgren and I
thought nothing of it at first, and then the Spirit let us know that
she wasn't talking about sleeping pills. We told her that that wasn't
a good idea. She opened up to us and began having an emotional
breakdown. Brother Slabaugh tensed up. Sister Slabaugh, gushing out
tears, told us how she is tired of living with Brother Slabaugh, that
he picks on her nonstop, and asked us why Bishop wouldn'
t consent to let them get divorced. Elder Wallgren and I wondered how
we got ourselves into this one. We weren't asking to find out why
Bishop was coming to their home to give a blessing. And we were
really wishing that Bishop wasn't so late to this appointment, because
now we had Sister Slabaugh wanting answers. We told her that Bishop
was coming soon and that he was a lot wiser than two young
missionaries. Sister Slabaugh responded as if she hadn't heard
anything. She talked about how much she hated Montana, that she
wanted to move, but her husband didn't, and that they argue all the
time, and why couldn't Bishop see that they were not made for each
other. We calmly repeated that we knew Bishop was a wise man and was
doing his best to help both her and Brother Slabaugh and that things
would get figured out. She started crying harder. "Every time I talk
to Bishop, HE is there watching m-m-me!" We told her that we would
tell Bishop that she wanted to talk with him alone. Sister Slabaugh
continued to complain about Brother Slabaugh for a bit. And then she
began apologizing to us. She told us that she wasn't doing well
living with Brother Slabaugh and that she was spending more and more
time to herself. She told us that she wanted to live out the
remainder of her life happily, shut up inside a house doing nothing
all day. She began crying again. I asked her if I could give her a
hug. Blubbering, she nodded her head. I gave her a hug. We left to
obtain the tools we needed to perform the service.
We spotted Bishop as soon as we left the house. We informed him that
Sister Slabaugh wanted to talk to him alone. Bishop said, "Well,
that settles things. I have a favor to ask the two of you." We
looked at him. "Can you two distract Brother Slabaugh so that I can
talk to Sister Slabaugh alone? I need to have her trust and I need
her to feel like everything is confidential so that we can talk about
everything we need to. I need you two to convince Brother Slabaugh to
leave the house. Once you get him out of the house, distract him as
long as you possibly can. Can you do that?" We didn't know how
exactly ethical that request was, especially if everything went south.
We decided to take a leap of faith that Bishop knew what he was doing
and was doing what would be best for the members of his Ward. I
thought that the whole distraction tactic was done only in movies and
books or else done in a desperate attempt by loyal siblings to
preserve one another from the wrath of their justice-seeking parents.
But here we were, about to do something very risky hoping to
successfully create a diversion. We told Bishop that we were going to
go and get the rakes before we came back to act on the plan. We went
to a less active's home. His name is Dewey. We asked him if we could
borrow two rakes for a few minutes. He gave us the rakes and warned
us to be careful because there have been thieves coming to that
trailer court. They keep trying to break into Dewey's shed to steal
his tools. Dewey claims to have almost lost well over one thousand
dollars worth of stuff to a group of people who are trying to take his
things. We reassured Dewey that we would take care of the rakes.
Dewey told us that he wouldn't be home when we finished, so we were to
leave the rakes by the front door. We walked back to the trailer,
took a deep breath, and then walked in.
Brother and Sister Slabaugh were talking to Bishop. We stood for a
bit, waiting for a proper time to make our move. There was a lull in
the conversation, I jumped in. "Hey! So do you want us to rake the
front yard or the back one?" Bishop suggested that Brother Slabaugh
go out with us to show us what to rake. Elder Wallgren reiterated it
and told Brother Slabaugh to "go out" with us. Brother Slabaugh
hesitated. He did NOT want to leave the room. I resumed the attack,
"Brother Slabaugh, what is it that you want us to rake?" He
responded, "Oh, the ones on the porch." I pressed forward, "How far?
Where are the boundaries between you and your neighbor's [bear in mind
this is a trailer court and that nobody really has a yard in the first
place, this was just an excuse.]? Could you show us where that is?"
Elder Wallgren repeated, "Yes! And come out with us! You should
supervise everything." Brother Slabaugh slowly stood. As we walked
out the door, Elder Wallgren hissed, "Elder! We need to get him
outside, remember!?" I wanted to let him know that I knew exactly
what I was doing, but I was doing everything discreetly by being a
perfectionist--which, technically speaking, I am that way already most
of the time. It is perfectly normal for me to check, double check,
recheck, and reconfirm. I couldn't say anything at the time because
Brother Slabaugh was right behind us. Brother Slabaugh gestured at
the yard. "Just all of this." He started to turn to go back in.
"Brother Slabaugh," I said. "Do you want us to do the back yard?"
"The front yard is fine." "So where are the boundaries between
trailers?" "Just go right up against the trailer. Once you are done,
come and get me." Elder Wallgren came in, "Brother Slabaugh, why
don't you stay outside with us? You should supervise us!" Brother
Slabaugh responded, "No, you'll be fine without me." Elder Wallgren
protested, "C'mon!" Then, "Brother Slabaugh, you should stay out
here!" And started walking closer to the house, the whole distraction
thing hadn't even lasted all of two minutes. But, then again, it
would have been dead obvious to just about anybody that we were trying
to keep Brother Slabaugh from going inside the house. I had a dumb
idea. I'm good at those. I called out, "Hey! Brother Slabaugh!" He
stopped at the door. "Can you show me how to rake? I don't know how
to rake." Elder Wallgren looked at me funny, "Elder! We just raked
somebody's yard two weeks ago!" I remained calm on the outside, but
inside I was panicking and worrying that we had just given things
away. I thought, ELDER WALLGREN!! When this is over I am going to
SMACK you! I didn't say that however. Instead, mildly, I remarked,
"Yeah...about that, I kinda just moved the leaves around. It didn't
really help anyone. Could you show me how to properly rake leaves?"
Brother Slabaugh paused. He looked at me. He turned to look at the
house, and then he looked at me again. And then he came to show me
how to rake. With a few quick strokes, Brother Slabaugh raked a small
pile of wet leaves. He handed the rake back to me, "See, there's not
much to it." I thanked him and resumed raking. Elder Wallgren,
catching onto the ruse, said, "Wow! Brother Slabaugh! That's
impressive!" You should rake for me!" Brother Slabaugh smiled,
"No...I probably should be getting inside." I felt bad for doing
this, but, for the greater good, which, Elder Wallgren understood, I
began throwing Elder Wallgren under the bus. "Brother Slabaugh, Elder
Wallgren doesn't know what he's doing." Elder Wallgren agreed.
"Nope. I don't." He turned his rake around and started raking
backwards with the teeth of the rake pointing up--thus doing
absolutely nothing. I continued. "See Brother Slabaugh? He doesn't
know what he's doing." Brother Slabaugh went over and tried to show
Elder Wallgren how to rake, but Elder Wallgren kept on getting it
wrong anyways. "Well, you know what to do anyways." Said Brother
Slabaugh. I chuckled, "Brother Slabaugh, look at that. I think he's
just trying to get out of raking! You should go and show him how it's
done. Put him to shame. Prove that the older generation knows more
about work and raking than the younger generation ever will." Brother
Slabaugh took the rake from Elder Wallgren and began raking with zeal.
Together, he and I raked his yard. I confirmed that he wanted me to
rake the orange peels and pine cones. Elder Wallgren found some
scissors and stowed them away in his pocket for future use. He came
over to me. "Elder! It's working!" I shooed him away. I didn't
want Brother Slabaugh to think that we were talking about him,
especially because that was the truth. We finished raking everything.
I struck up a conversation with Brother Slabaugh about his neighbors
by asking Brother Slabaugh what all they do to him and his yard. He
assured us that he had no plans on moving--those neighbors weren't
going to get the better of him. Elder Wallgren expressed his
condolences, which egged Brother Slabaugh on. We asked for Brother
Slabaugh's help with taking the leaves to the dumpster. Brother
Slabaugh told us that he was going to go get a can from the house.
Elder Wallgren said, "But--" and then stopped because there was
nothing that could be said. Brother Slabaugh went inside to get a can
and came back out a short time later. He helped us gather everything
and throw them away. Together we walked back into the house. We had
successfully distracted Brother Slabaugh for twenty minutes. We gave
Sister Slabaugh the blessing alongside Bishop and then left to return
the rakes to Dewey's." Yeah... Not my best.
After that wonderful fiasco, it was about time for us to walk over to
Sue's house, to help her with some stuff. We went over to her house
and helped her move some boxes around and organize the things that are
inside of them. As we did so she had the TV blasting on the movie
channel, so I saw some small glimpses of a movie about a military dog,
a movie about Mat Damon as a lawyer, and something about black magic.
I dunno, all I know is that Satan was definitely using the TV as a
temptation for my companion and I. After we helped her organize for
like 2 hours, we were able to read out of the Book of Mormon with her,
which was pretty sweet because she just happened to be on a chapter in
Alma that talked about baptism and what it is. It was really cool to
talk with Sue about her baptism and the steps she's taking in her
After that we had to practice the music for the baptism musical
number... Hard piece for the piano, but I think I can get it.
We had some cool actual discussions at district meeting, and my piano
playing actually didn't suck haha. After district meeting we went on a
quick exchange with elder Crockett and elder Monroe, so that elder
Crocket could finish filling out brother Gowey's baptism form. I
really like that elder, a lot. Learned a lot from him before, and I
can for sure see why the lord called him to be our district leader. We
had a good time talking about what baptism was, and what we could do
to better enhance our area. Good missionary, good leader! We had a
hard them with brother Gowey though, as he couldn't remember any of
the dates that he needs to remember in order for us to have the forms
filled out correctly. Oh well, I guess all the dates were super far in
the past anyway, and with age disappears the mind right? Haha
After the exchange, Elder Hansen and I went to the park in East
Missoula to help clean up the grounds. We picked up more pine cones
and pine leaves, more than I have ever seen in my whole life. We
filled almost 20 garbage bags with nothing but pine cones, and another
10 with nothing but pine needles. Dang city life got me thinkin that
nothing like that could exist! Haha it was nice to be able to help he
community though. After that we had to run out to Potomac to get a
tour of the Bowdidge's house- they are having us house sit for them so
they wanted to show us where everything was, and what they wants us to
take care of while we were doing it. They have a really nice home, all
alone out in the woods, so the fact that we get to stay in in makes
the day just all the more better!! Also, knowing the low budget that
we have as missionaries, the Bowdidge's decided they wanted o fill our
pantries win good stuff (she is also the county health representative
so when she heard what we were eating it made her sick to her
stomach.). Mac and cheese, noodles, pudding, granola, and a bunch of
other stuff. We tried to not accept it but they wouldn't take no for
an answer, so we had to take it all home. Now we have a full fridge
and pantries, so it all works out, right?
We still had a bunch of time before end of the day, so we headed out
to Clinton to visit some people out there. It was good to visit some
people, Even though no one wanted us to stay for a while. We
eventually made our way to the lemons, where brother lemon proceeded
to make fun of Texas (elder Hansen's home) for like 2 hours. I felt
bad, but elder Hansen said he was okay with it so I just kinda sat on
the side and allowed stuff to happen.
I've never been really good at planning, so this was kind of another
cruddy day. We found something that seems to work for us, so we
started to do that but by the time we had figured it out it was about
time for us to leave. Some went to Sue's house and bugged her for not
reading from the Book of Mormon, and then we went back to the
apartment and finished up planning as fast as we could. We went to the
Gilbert's for dinner, which is out in rock creek, a part of the area I
had never before been. So after getting sufficiently lost, we were
able to find their house. It didn't help that i had forgotten the
phone at home, so we couldn't even call to have her help us find it
haha. That was pretty much the whole day, kinda slow and boring, as
most planning days are.
We found out today that for the rest of the month (like a week) we had
like 600 miles left. Heck yeah! We had too many miles NOT to waste
them! Haha no not really, we just used them to head out to Drummond
and teach the people we had out there. We taught a lesson to Dan,
which was...... Interesting. We tried to resolve a bunch of his
concerns, and in that we ended up talking a little bit about
dinosaurs, celebrities, politics, and how it doesn't matter of aliens
exist or not. Lessons with Dan are always interesting... We were also
able to visit with the Fellons and talk with them a little bit about
Easter and the whole point of the thing. It was pretty cool, and we
also talked a little bit about Easter traditions. We were also able to
go to that whole MOTAB messiah thing. We expected a lot more people to
show up, but it ended up being only my companion, the branch
president, and me. It was really cool to listen to the little bits and
pieces that we could, but we had to leave before it was over to be
able to get home to the Bowdidge's in time. House sitting at their
home is proving to be a little different- they have and older dog who
thinks he is still a puppy, so he likes to wrestle and run around even
though he doesn't really have to energy to anymore. They also have a
cat who acts like it is being staved, even if it just ate. Weird
We slept in bunk beds last night, and the animals slept with us. Elder
Hansen was on the bottom so the dog slept with him, and the cat jumped
up with me on top. It was and interesting night, to say the least.
Baptism day!!!! The service was really cool- bishop Nystrom baptized
brother Gowey (messed up once- baptized brother gowey like he was
doing baptisms for the dead... Haha) and brother knudson baptized sue
(he messed up a few times, but sue said it only got more and more
special every time!). I got to accompany elder Hansen for a musical
number about the atonement. Is kind of weird because it is sung from
the savior's perspective in Gethsemane, but it makes good for an
Easter song!
After the baptism, we got to do FaceTime with Elder Rowley, the elder
who tracted into sue. He seemed super happy to see her, and she seemed
super happy to see him, so that was nice.
After that we decided it was time for a power nap. Some thing about
baptisms seems to tucker a missionary out- we were both dead tired. So
we rested on the couches in the relief society room. We then wandered
around Clinton for a while visiting some people, then we went home and
had dinner with another nap. I was really tired for some reason. Then
went and visited the Mitchell's- oh boy that experience. Turns out she
raps....... For God. However, she's not classifies as a Christain
rapper because she "cusses to much".... I don't even know... And then
to add to that they were watching how to train your dragon 2 in The
background, and tarry (mr. Mitchell) started off on something about
how the movie writers got their ideas for the movie about dragons from
the bible.
I have turned into a white girl- I just.... Just... Can't even.
I've always loved Easter Sunday- four times as many people as usual at
church, lots of testimonies born, and the spirit felt. We almost
literally didn't have enough room in the chapel to hold everyone who
was showing up. It was FANTASTIC. We got to talk with a lot of people,
and hopefully have some new people to talk to in the coming weeks.
The only other noteworthy thing that we did after church was go over
to bishops for Easter dinner. A newer brother in the ward came over
too- brother Pricler. He spent like 2 hours telling "spiritual navy
stories" from his 15 years as a naval combat commander. He had some
pretty flippin sweet stories, but I never really heard any sort of
spiritual message coming from them. It was a nice night- got to talk
with some people about Christ and also got to talk a bunch about
school stories with the bishops three kids. Talked about the trouble I
got into, the classes and clubs and stuff I was in, and all that sort
of fun stuff.

(We saw some 'big horn' sheep when we went to the Bowdidge's on Monday.
They have some pretty small horns... If you ask me!

Baptism!!!!!! Really happy to see the two of them get into the water!!!!
From left to right- elder Hansen, bishop Nystrom, brother Gowey, Sue,
brother knudson (and then there's that weirdo in the back)

So we saw a no trespassing sign while walking around. No trespassing?!
More like opportunity!!!!!! (You can't see it but it was hailing like
crazy that day. For a little bit the hailstones were like the size of
ping-pong balls) )

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