Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Carthage, IL - Weeks 1 and 2

WEEK 1 - 6/17/13

Me and Sister Call - Love Her!

Hanging out in cornfields between
tracting houses
What a week! It has been hot Hot HOT and fun but also difficult at times.

All the joys that come with being a missionary! So first of all I am developing quite the farmer's tan. Never thought I'd say that! But we went tracting for 9 hours on Tuesday and that's what happens I guess. Oh and the tan line on my feet from my flats...not too cute. This week has been an emotional rollercoaster with everything being so new and trying to get everyone's names down in the ward as well as seeing very little interest in anyone around here about the church. The only constant lessons we teach are to members after dinner. We are working a lot on reactivations and bringing people back to church who haven't been here for a while. There is a ton of work to be done there. But we also just got 200 travel miles cut this month so getting around is a bit tricky. We are also inviting people to do church tours and they seem to be really effective in helping people realize that this isn't a scary building or anything.

Nauvoo Temple after the Wedding
We, as a companionship, got to go to the Nauvoo Temple on Saturday to see a family that Sister Thompson taught get sealed for time and all eternity. I am SO excited! Please pray for us to find more people to teach here and for hearts to be softened to let us help and change their lives! There are 1,100 people who live in Carthage and 16 churches right here in this small town so you can imagine how hard it is for people to let us in. Everyone already belongs to a church! So this is where the members come in.
All you wonderful people in the Morrisville Ward/Philadelphia Stake: Don't run from the missionaries! They need your help! The only people we have taught have been from the hard working member missionaries in our ward. They are just regular people who want to bring the light of Christ to others. I know you can do it and think of people to have them teach. Have courage!
This past week on a 9 hour tracting day...guess who forgot her shoes? This girl. Guess who may have had to wear sneakers for part of the day because she had blisters from borrowing someone else's shoes? That's right. This girl again. It was a rough day and this picture pretty much sums it up.

I learned another word this week: Honery. Wait... Honery here means mischievous...hmm?? So I was a bit confused when these happy kids were bouncing around and their mom said to stop being honery haha!!  On another note, I have found a new love for turnips! I don't think I've ever had them before yesterday and they were yummy! Well not too much to update on but that's been my first week. Love you all! But I love letters more! :)
WEEK 2 - 6/24/13
This week marks the reason why I chopped off my hair. It's been high 90s and humid all week woo hoo! And since we got our miles cut we've been walking more. Between that and morning workouts you won't even recognize me when I get home haha kidding. SO-Exciting news! They are opening up the Chicago West mission on July 1st and the Peoria area of my mission will now become part of that! This just means our boundaries are changing so I could be in yet another mission area if I get transferred over there. We're the next closest area to Peoria so there's a chance. We said goodbye to our Mission President and his wife on Thursday and this picture is our zone eating lunch with them.
For those of you who don't know, zones are made up of 2 districts. My district has 9 and the other has 10 and together we are the Nauvoo zone. These are just all the missionaries serving in the same general area and then it's broken down more into which companionships go where. I was asked to play piano at the conference and I was super nervous because it was their last conference ever! But it went well. We'll get to meet the Jensen's soon, the next mission President and his wife! They get here on Saturday. This week we taught a lot of families about family history and how to get started. The Bishop has us on a special assignment to visit a list of people who can really help get some geneology done. I wish I had more time to do my own! But we got training on how to use the site better from the senior couples serving their mission in the Family History center in Nauvoo and it's just such a blessing to work with them. They all know us by name now and are so sweet. Always offering to drive us places and feed us dinner. Bonus!
Alright story time. There once was a girl who was really homesick and missing her Jersey Shore. She and her companions were driving past a nice little lot right next to the Mississippi River and decided to get out and take a picture by it because this was the closest thing this girl was going to get to her beach. She started walking and began to sink a little but surely it couldn't get much worse, the water was close. But somehow the further she walked the more she sunk and then she was totally stuck.
Her companions stayed back and watched this helpless city girl stand unable to move and took pictures instead of helping her. The poor girl had to brace herself and take her shoes off to pull them out. Horrible experience. Her feet were then extremely muddy as well as her shoes but there was no other way.
Everyone had a good laugh...
and then she washed off in the muddy, dirty, Mississippi River. The End. I'm sure there's an awesome gospel application here about getting pulled away from God into temptation and sin but I'll let all of you ponder that and think of something inspiring from my...I mean her experience.
We met Vocal Point last night!! They are amazing. They came to Nauvoo and did a special meeting with our Stake and sang arrangements of hymns and now I'm hooked. I'm obsessed. They're all so sweet and have powerful testimonies too. They strengthened my own and helped me to remember that we are never alone.  I am so grateful for the knowledge of this gospel and for the direction it gives me in my life. We may not have many people to teach here but I am learning so much every day and coming closer to Christ myself through watching everyone else's examples. This is such an amazing place to learn about the history of our church too. The members of the church are so welcoming and I really am lucky to be here (despite all the gnats that seem to never go away!) I love you all! Til next week. Oh! Almost forgot. Today marks exactly my 2 months out on the mission. Yay! 1/9th done. I have so much more work to do and I love it!
 Barns Galore!
 Statue of Joseph and Hyrum Smith before Martyrdom
 Snake Valley, such a scary road to drive on!
 Treehouse built by member of our ward

Monday, June 10, 2013

This Just Keeps Getting Better...

Why hello everyone! I bet you're all wondering, "Where in the world (okay, not the world) is Sister Cox? Well, I don't know how I got so blessed but I'm actually serving in NAUVOO!!!, which is part of the Iowa Des Moines mission.
When we got off the plane on Wednesday, Mission President Jergensen and his wife, met us and we drove to the mission home for dinner and a testimony meeting.  After dinner I thought I could just slip under the radar since this technically isn't my mission; but nope, they had all the visa waiters stand up so it is known to the world and that's what all 8 of us are classified as..."the visa waiters". It's was fun though and they're happy to have us. 6 of us are waiting to go to Brazil and 2 are going to Argentina. Word on the street is I'll be here for at least 2 transfers, so at least until the end of the summer and probably into September.  It was amazing.
The next day (Thursday) we met our companions. I'm in a trio! Sister Thompson is our trainer, she only has 2 transfers left :( She's from Spokane, WA and is sweet and funny and a hard worker. Sister Call is being trained with me but was actually called to this mission.  She's from Star Valley, Wyoming. They are AWESOME. I love my companions so much. We all get along really well and we all add something different to the companionship.

We drove 2 hours to our new home after transfer meeting. We will be living in Carthage, IL, in the attic of an old Baptist lady named Mama Joy...she is so sweet.  And since there is absolutely nothing here, we slept. There are no light switches in the house, just knobs and strings to turn lights on and you get motion sickness walking around too much because our floors are like little hills! There are also vents in the middle of the floor, it's funny. 
My new address is:
632 1/2 Locust Street
Carthage, IL 62321
Yes, it's a half...not a joke!!!
We had our first dinner appointment Thursday night and it was the normal chicken and green beans and Jell-O but then we got offered shark for the next time. Interesting! It is very country here...dirt roads, we get lost a lot, and EVERYONE has a dog. So my first experience on the mission was feeding a member's 2 dogs spray cheese. Funny town I tell ya...This is such a tiny town and I was a bit shocked when we first got here but the people are so kind and made the new Sisters feel really welcomed. I truly do love it. 
Here are a couple phrases I've learned so far:
1) Farsee: this is a way of giving directions. Someone will say "it's a couple farsees down that way" and it literally means as far as you can see. Hilarious.
2) Couplefew: an amount of an item. No one really knows how much a couple few is...no one...but it's some amount.
We will be doing a lot of service in our mission because in this town, either all of the people are members or they already know about the church and want nothing to do with it. This is historically where Joseph Smith was murdered in 1844 at Carthage jail.  Some tension and animosity that built up in the past against the church still lingers. But it's gotten much better over time.
So on Saturday we were able to go to Missouri for service! My first time. I'm excited to say that I have already been in 3 different states in the first 3 days of my mission. Impressive huh? Kidding, I just think it's cool. We wore the yellow Mormon Helping Hands smocks and did some tornado clean up. It was great, but HOT!! My allergies have been killing me here-just like home so nothing new for the summer. But again it's great :)

There were tons of trees that got knocked down so people chain-sawed them and we carried them up to the street or just made piles for them to burn. We have an awesome district and some great Elders and Sisters ready to work hard. Most of them have all been out for a while, there's 9 of us in my district and they are all gems.
There are SO many bugs here because we're right on the Mississippi River so I'm adjusting to that while getting eaten alive every night. There are tons of dogs as well and I don't think we've been to a house yet where there wasn't a dog. And there are more things on the road than cars so that's funny...this city girl is just out of her element for this small town but I'm adjusting. It's not about me though and I love it!! I usually just laugh because everything here is foreign to me.
Also exciting - we get to help out with the Pageant here this summer! So if any of you lovely people at home are planning on making the trip, I will most likely see you. I am loving it here, I have amazing companions and even though it's not Brazil, I know I'm here for a reason.

This next week I'll be sad that I'm not home to celebrate 2 important days with my family! Mom-HAPPY 50TH BIRTHDAY on Friday! I love you! I wouldn't be where I am today without you and can't thank you enough for your support throughout my life and now especially on my mission. I wish I could be there with you to celebrate - but how about I teach the gospel instead? :)

And Dad-HAPPY FATHER'S DAY! I am continually grateful to have a Father like you who is always there for me. I can't thank you enough but I will continue to try.

I love you all so much! I'll keep you posted on my happenings.  Just know that I am so happy and so grateful and humbled to be placed here during a most exciting time in Nauvoo! Til next week...

Sister Cox


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Last Week: Here I Go!!!

No, not to Sao Paulo, Brazil...I'M GOING TO DES MOINES, IOWA!
Des Moines, Iowa - here I come!
No visa still so this is my re-assignment for now. I have no idea how long I'll be here but I'm excited nonetheless. My face may have said otherwise when I opened the letter...I was just so surprised. I was not expecting the mid-west. But I know this is where the Lord needs me for now and I'm okay with that. I looked up the boundaries for my mission and it's HUGE. It covers all of Iowa and then parts of Illinois and northern Missouri. Pretty Sweet! I leave at 3am tomorrow morning (Weds, June 5th) and can't wait to talk to my parents again from the airport!
This last week has been so hard though. My whole district got their reassignments and this is the break down: I'm the only one going to Iowa, Sister Dixon and my companion Sister Empey are going to the Michigan Lansing mission, Sister Hargrove left yesterday for the Colorado Springs mission, 4 Elders left this morning for the Mesa Arizona mission, 1 got his visa so he left just an hour ago for Brazil, and the first 3 elders left Saturday morning for Billings, Montana. I can honestly say that I have cried every single day this past week. Goodbyes are so hard! I have become so close with these amazing people and since the Elders that went to Montana aren't going to our same mission in Brazil, I won't see them for 2 years. I know we'll keep in touch but that goodbye was awful.

On a lighter note, a couple highlights from this week reminded me how perfect God's timing is. He knows us better than we know ourselves and I know that everything happens for a reason. The fact that none of us have our visas just means there are people in all of these places that need us and I'm okay with that. We also heard that missionaries' visas are getting pushed to the bottom of the stack as people worldwide are trying to get visas for the World Cup next year and for the Olympics as well. There has just been an overload of visa applications to Brazil so we'll see what happens!
Another wonderful thing I've learned is that obedience brings blessings. The second we break a rule, you lose a blessing; something goes wrong.  That's not to say if we are always obedient, nothing bad will happen because we still have to grow and be challenged but I know that if we are staying as close to God as we can and following His commandments that he will help us and bless with the things we need in our lives. OraƧao e muito poderoso! Prayer is so powerful! He knows my heart and my needs and I've realized that because every time I was sad or had a hard time with something, one small thing happens to brighten my day whether it be a letter I wasn't expecting, or someone who crosses my path and makes me smile or a prayer was answered or someone just made me laugh. They're all small things but I am so grateful that I got the chance to see how God can work in my life.
One quick story before I spend the rest of this beautiful Tuesday packing...
Sunday night we watched a devotional from Elder David A. Bednar titled "Character of Christ" and it was amazing. It was about how the natural man turns inward whenever there is conflict but that Christ always turned outward, looking to help others. He told a story about a woman whose daughter was in a horrible car accident with two other girls. One of these girls died instantly and the other two were in critical condition. The girls weren't identified yet but this mother called Elder Bednar asking him to go over to the hospital to identify her daughter. At the same time she received a call from the hospital saying that her daughter was the one that was killed on impact. Elder Bednar heard this as he was on the other side of phone. Not a second passed when the woman said (at the time he was Brother Bednar) "Brother Bednar can you please contact the other two mothers and let them know that their daughters are still alive." How selfless was this woman to instantly think of others before herself at a time like this. He goes on to say that the day of her daughter's funeral, a woman from the mother's ward called (not knowing the mother's situation) complaining that she had a cold and asked why no one had stopped by to deliver a meal to her yet. This amazing Christ-like woman said "I'll be over soon", cooked a meal, and brought it over on her way to her daughter's funeral. She never took a minute to explain her story, what she was going through or was impatient. She turned outward. This story impressed upon me so much about how I need to view others. We need to see everyone as God does and love them unconditionally. Always turn outward as Christ did and we will be so much happier.
I'm so glad I got the chance to see this before I leave for the mission field because this is what my whole mission is about! Loving others, helping them to realize God's love for them and bring them unto Christ. I cannot wait. My time at the MTC has taught me so much and I'm so excited to continue learning and growing throughout my whole mission. It's everything I expected it to be and more. I will have my new address soon and hopefully have it up here. I love you all and the next time I write I'll be in Iowa!


Sister Cox :)