Dearest Mom and Dad,
Thank you for sharing those wonderful insights behind Proverbs 3:5-6. I love what it has meant to our family and President Monson. That scripture has an even greater meaning to me now. Could you send me a picture of the plaque that hangs on Grandma's wall when you go to Oregon with that scripture from my great-great-grandmother? I would like that very much!! I love that you're able to go to Oregon so soon!! I hope you have a lot of fun with family, please send a picture of everyone (including Rosie) and let them know how much I love them! Also my P-Day is on Mondays and now that I'm in-field I have more time to email so expect to get an email either in the morning; 9am GA time (7am UT time)or the evening; 2/3pm GA time (12/1pm UT time). Hopefully we'll be able to start a conversation up! It would be like we're instant messaging but through emails haha. Anyway I'm so glad that I'm able to catch you before you go to Oregon!
And just remember I LOVE getting letters (here are a few thoughts of what you can write if you can't think of anything: a meaningful message, a scripture you read and thoughts on it, inspiring quotes, etc.) and pictures so keep 'em comin'!! :)
Ok. So onto the questions! My first area that I will be serving in for at least 4 months is Lilburn, GA!! So in other words my ward consists of the Mission President, his wife, the office workers, a set of elders, the assistants to the President, and the rest of the ward. We also live super close to the Mission Office so we get special privileges hehe. President Bennion and his wife are absolutely wonderful! They are so sweet and kind! Elder and Sister Residori and Elder and Sister Jessen are the office workers and I absolutely love them! We get to see them almost everyday because we go to the office for all of our mail and packages. They take such good care of us! Which reminds me...my companion and I pick up all mail and packages at the office even though we have a mail slot at our apartment just because our mail and packages are safer that way, but as soon as I'm transferred to a different area (which could be anywhere from 4-6 months) all mail and packages need to be sent to the apartment address I'll send you because the office can't forward mail anymore. So (shout out to mom <3) feel free to send any and all packages in your possession as soon as you'd like.
My companion/trainer is AWESOME! We're both really similar in our personalities and interests. Her name is Sister Bone. She's really understanding and is a great teacher, I like her a lot. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera in the apartment so I'll send you pictures of us next Monday. [In the MTC] I learned and re-learned a lot of really good lessons like how to roll with the punches, how to validate, how to step back and let someone learn important lessons for themselves, never giving up, looking at the positive, and most importantly loving someone with all of their faults. In the end I'm glad for the experience.
Since my first area is in Lilburn, we never use our bikes just the car which is actually ok with me haha because I know that I'll be able to use my bike a lot when I'm transferred out of the area. So the first week I've been in Lilburn has been the first week in a long time that the members didn't really sign up for dinners with the missionaries but, the members who have fed us have made some of the most delicious meals!!! None of the meals have been like a traditional southern style meal but they have seriously just been really good. One night we had home made biscuits, fish with sund-dried tomatoes, veggies, and cookies. Last night we had this amazing pasta dish, home made bread sticks (to.die.for.), super good oven baked zucchini, and really good home-made chocolate chip cookies! Oh and Sister Bennion made the missionaries who stayed in their home (including me) this AH-mazing taco salad for dinner and the best breakfast casserole and cinnamon roles I've ever had (and mind you I usually don't like cinnamon roles). Overall I think I'm going to really enjoy the meals with members here very much! By the way the ward members I've gotten to know so far are super friendly! I love them!
The weather here has been kinda crazy; I love it! The first few days in Lilburn the humidity was really low, which was great but then we started getting these CRAZY rain/wind/thunder/lightning storms in the evening/night since Wednesday and ever since then the days have been super humid and you know what?! The Lord is really blessing me because I feel like if I weren't on a mission I would not be enjoying the humidity or tracting because you're literally soaked in sweat and the people who's home we tract seriously ask us if we want to come in and have water because we look hot, and mind you this is after they've rejected our message haha. We've had some really funny experiences with people here, because some people are so polite! For example the other day we came up to this door and this man answers with a phone in his hand and says, "Oh no no no....", starts to close the door then opens it again and says with the phone still up to his ear, "Ya'll are beautiful and I appreciate what'cha do but I'm on the phone with my brother long distance and can't hang up but ya'll are so beautiful" as he's closing the door, "Love you, love you, love you". Hahaha ok so it might not seem funny but my companion and I were cracking up!
To answer your question I absolutely love being a missionary. I feel like I've been waiting for this for a long time. The MTC and in-field-work are so different. I'm not gonna lie the MTC was a real struggle for me in many different ways and part of the struggle was thinking that I was the cause for my struggles, but my Branch President helped me come to the realization that it wasn't me and that I was ready to go serve in-the-field. That's not to say that I didn't learn a lot of really important things at the MTC and had some wonderful experiences, but I was just ready to go and serve. I really really love being a missionary. There are ups and downs that come along with this work but that's just how life is. The point that we need to remember is that no matter what life or missionary work throws at us we will never be alone. Our Savior will always be there with us.
I am a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I along with several others have been called to serve as representatives of Jesus Christ Himself. This work is important, it is the Lord's work. He is and has been preparing His children to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I know that as a representative of Jesus Christ it is my duty and my privilege to find them and to teach them with power and authority that I have been set apart to have. This calling is sacred and is a once in a lifetime opportunity and blessing. All of it, the ups and downs, are worth it. I love you, all of you. You are always in my prayers, every day. So long for now, till next Monday I hope you have a wonderful week!
Lots of love from your missionary,
P.S. Congratulations Emily and Matt!! I'm so excited for what waits ahead for the both of you.
Sister Rice with President and Sister Bennions