Amber during our Skype call.
I am so glad I got to see you last night. I was starting to get really bummed out and discouraged and that's why I cried when I saw you. I thought I had no chance at Skyping. I'm so glad it finally worked! It was very needed to see your face yesterday and to joke and laugh and hear your encouragement. I appreciate it so much!!! Thank goodness for technology right? I feel like Skype calls happen right when the missionary needs it. Skype calls... Inspired.
Dad I'm so proud of you for sharing the gospel!!! Yay!! Keep doing that. I have a goal when I get home to always have a Book of Mormon in my car and then always keep one with me as much as possible. You never ever know who you will run into. When we went to Stake Conference, we rode with our District Leader's Branch Mission Leader. After the meeting they stopped at McDonald’s for ice cream. The lady who took his money was so nice. She had accidentally given him back less than she should have but she quickly and nicely corrected it. Brother Johnson said, "She was so nice! She needs a Book of Mormon!" I saw he had one in the back seat where I was sitting. I pulled it out and said, "Here's one!" Haha so he waited till she opened the window again and said, "Have you ever read the Book of Mormon?" She said, " No I haven't." He said, "Would you like one?" She said, "Sure!" With a smile. He gave it to her and drove away. Simple as that. I then restocked his car with a Book of Mormon from my bag. Sharing the gospel is natural and there are SO many opportunities to share it with others. Thank you for sharing it. You never know what kind of seed you planted. Oh! And you can tell people about me and that if they have more questions they can add me and message me on Facebook. I'll teach them everything.
Ok now for all these questions. Hopefully I can remember things!
(~ Since we were able to Skype with Amber yesterday and did most of our conversing for the week on the call, I thought I'd email Amber some questions about her mission and see what kind of answers she would come up with. Here are her answers.)
-What is the best food you've eaten on your mission?
Best food... Strawberry shortcake. Until EVERYONE started doing it because it's warming up. There really isn't a big food difference here.
-What is the weirdest food you've eaten on your mission?
Octopus. And southern ribs and weird concoctions.
-What do you usually do on P-day?
Email, clean, shop, then write letters and be lazy.... Well it depends on the companion. That's my ideal p-day. Some companions want to always be out doing something. So today we are going to go make pottery, sometimes we just tour around. In Nashville we would play with other
missionaries or go to the zoo or museums or downtown.
-What service do you do?
Lots of moving people.. Also helping them clean and organize, planting flowers etc.
-What are some things you're missing from home, besides your family?
Lomax!! (Amber's car)My wonderful jobs and the people there, and I miss the dryness. And I miss fry sauce.
-Describe some things you see, hear, and smell as you’re traveling about.
There are tons of trees here! Like movie style. Lots of nature and animals everywhere. The wildlife is just all over! Meaning.. backyard status. There are also trailer homes and mansions, hillbillies and rich people. Birds chirping. Motorcycles. Lots of motorcycles. The morning always smells so fresh and clean! And it smells green too. Another common smell is smoke and animal pee.
-Describe what sort of things go on between you and your companion such as funny pranks, spiritual talks, odd things that your companion does. (Or past companions)
The song game, the road kill game, lots of talking about the second coming, accents are a huge mission entertainment. Odd things they have done... Doesn't kill spiders, waits for me to get up to start her personal prayer... Just kind of stares at me while I'm in the instant grumpy stage.
-What clothes are your favorite that you have out there with you?
My polka dotted skirts, and my tanks and button up shirts. And of course scarfs and belts.
-Describe your church meetings, what you do, where you meet, how many attend, how people get there, how far away they must come or what they go through to get there.
We meet at church... Just a regular building in Johnston City, we have about 150-175 that attend out of the 500 members in the area. Most people drive or carpool and it's at least a 20-30 minute drive for everyone.. Some drive an hour or more. We have church that's pretty normal like Utah. People sometimes come in jeans and a lot of people only stay for an hour.. By the last meeting we've lost half the people.
-Describe one thing you have learned or thought about this past week.
I have learned to never give up. I'm not perfect and it's going to take a lot of time to become the missionary I want to be. But it is possible and that's because of Christ. I've learned a lot about utilizing the spirit in the work and making sure to ask faithfully for His companionship. I forget that a lot or I do it repetitively. The spirit is key to everything we do and without it, there's no point.
-What was the hardest part about leaving on your mission? The best?
The hardest part was leaving what I knew and was comfortable with and not knowing what was ahead. The best part was being excited to start a new adventure.
-What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far on your mission?
I have learned about the reality of Christ's atonement. It is real and it is so much more than we think. The atonement covers everything. The atonement is there for everyone no matter what your history is. It's there to heal us and change us to become more like Christ. It is there to help our testimonies and to give us hope when we feel it is lost. The atonement is the ultimate love of God. Through the atonement I can change, become better, and conquer anything. We all can. NO MATTER WHAT. Religion, race, habits, it doesn't matter. The atonement is there. We just have to choose to accept and use it.
-What have you learned from your companions or other missionaries?
I have learned that I'm a lot nicer and better than I think. Also I've learned that when you work for The Lord, nothing small matters. It doesn't matter if there are crumbs on the counter, dirty dishes, pens across the room, shoes left out. We all help each other and because we're serving God, we don't mind serving each other and then it emulates to the people. Life is just easier when you are focused on The Lord.
-What have you learned from your mission president?
That we can do it! Nothing can drag us down. Not Satan, not people, nothing. The Lord is ALWAYS there. He never ever ever even thinks about leaving your side. I can feel my Heavenly Father’s love for me through President Andersen. He is incredible. And he is so selfless which makes it easier for him to find solutions to problems. He sees everything in such a Christ like way. He truly knows Christ.
-What are the different methods you use to proselyte?
Tracting, biking, walking in stores and talking to people, Facebook, member’s friends, nonmembers at ward activities, asking for referrals from Less-actives and nonmembers.
-What have you learned on your mission so far that you think will help you throughout your life?
It's easier with Christ. Scripture study and prayer and service are small requirements to gain happiness. And visiting and home teaching is so important and it's so much more than a monthly visit! It can literally change lives!
-What is your favorite mission story so far?
My favorite one is Donnie. The end. Just Donnie in general. (Amber told us some great things about Donnie. Donnie was baptized about a month ago. He has handed out so many copies of the Book of Mormon, that he needs more. He wanted to go "contacting" with the sisters so they taught him pamphlet discussions and the first person Donnie approached, listened to him.)
-How has your mission changed you so far?
It's made me humble and sucked me into Christ. It's opened my eyes and made me love people no matter what. It's set my priorities straight. Everyone is so right when they say to put God first. It's made me more outgoing too!!
-What are some differences about Tennessee and Illinois compared to Utah?
It's humid. And green. And the people here are just nicer and easy to talk to. The homes are small and often falling apart because they're so old. People love cement statues.
-What has surprised you about the people in Tennessee and Illinois?
They let you right in! Even if they just met you! Or they will stand on the other side of the door and yell "who is it?!" And make you yell loud enough for the whole world to hear that the sister missionaries are at their door!
-What is your favorite thing about Tennessee and Illinois?
The clouds. The rain. Town squares and marque signs everywhere!
-What are some words that are pronounced differently in Tennessee and Illinois than the way you are used to hearing them?
People say "warsh" instead of "wash." On a ranch, they can have cows, chickens, horses and "shep." It took me a while to figure out that a "shep" was "sheep." And anything with "ville" on the end is pronounced "vull" like Nashvull, Cartersvull, etc. They also say, "Love yuns" instead of "Love you."
-What were you afraid of before serving your mission that you now realize was really no big deal?
The rules. They're really not as strict as they sound. Getting up at 6:30 a.m. and tracting really is fun. Some of the best stories come from there! Oh and transfers. Transfers happen every 6 weeks but you won't be transferred every one of those times. I thought I would be transferred every 6 weeks. You can be assigned to an area longer than 6 weeks.
-Do you have any advice for those who are thinking about serving a mission?
Prepare. Know Preach My Gospel and read the Book of Mormon. Dedicate yourself to The Lord and trust everything He gives you! Spend time with your family. Just prepare spiritually.
You should ask these again towards the end of my mission. It was fun to reflect and think on these things.
Well, that's about all for now. I hope this next week we'll have some good experiences to tell you about. I just bought Jesus the Christ and it came today so I want to read that. I love you!
At the end of our Skype session, Amber said that she loved her mission so much, that even if she had the choice to come home right now, she wouldn't. Strangely enough, that's exactly what we, as her parents, want to hear.