Howdy, my lovely family and friends!
Remember how last Monday I told y’all how we were going to ride bikes every day? Well we have. Let me explain how that first day went…
We had dinner at the furthest tip of our ward boundaries! We had to ride down a commuter road at rush hour. I have never wanted to burst into tears, but that day, I did. It was scary. BUT we learned that we could ride 12 miles as fast as we could, completely out of shape, and not die. Whew! We can do this (:
We ride on average 22 miles a day. It’s great. Makes your hinny nice and plush. So if you want a better back side, hop on your bikes, y’all! Your quads may burn, your calves may lock up, but who cares? It’s totally worth it.
Since we have no investigators, we get the pleasure of riding around looking for people to teach. Seriously… We just ride… and ride… and look for people who are outside. It’s hard. In fact, we went 5 whole days without using our car and taught almost zero lessons! The lessons we did teach were to less actives. So, not even people to increase our investigator pool. I was bummed. As in, MAJORLY bummed. On Thursday night I told my district leader how frustrated I was. Ya know what he told me? Absolutely nothing. He just said, “Oh, I’m sorry you’re frustrated. It’s a lesson to learn though!” That made me fume a little bit. This elder spent the first year of his mission in just bike areas, and he had no advice for me. What the?
So then I had this brilliant idea to call some elders from my last zone. Elder McCown is a biking and finding king. He always gets out of the car and on the bike. One week he found 13 new investigators! (The mission goal is to find 3 new investigators a week, per companionship). It amazed me. So I dialed him up, on the verge of crying my angry tears, and he said, “Whoa, Sister Stockinger! You’re a champ! 5 days on a bike and you’re a sister?! Let’s go over this” He then spent 45 precious minutes (you savor your wind-down hour each night… you’re only time to “relax”) explaining to me the tricks he’s learned. He’s only been out 6 weeks longer than me, so it’s not like he’s a super seasoned elder, but he really helped us out! He gave us this advice:
1) Look for logos on people’s clothes that you can strike up a conversation about (or other items… dogs, yard decor, bumper stickers…)
2) Wait for them to smile. You can’t help unhappy people and they’re probably annoyed if they haven’t laughed for smiled with you. OR
3) Wait for them to ask you who you are. Don’t immediately tell them, “Hi we’re missionaries!…” because that turns people off.
If you do those things, 90% of the time people will listen to what you have to say! It seems to easy. Yet it works.
He gave many words of encouragement, told some miracle stories, got us all pumped up! We felt so invigorated, so refreshed, renewed faith to find… We were EXCITED!
Well. Now it’s been 3 days since then… We still haven’t found anyone new to teach. BUT we know it’s possible and we know the Lord will bless us for our efforts.
Saturday morning you’ll never guess what we did… WE WENT TO THE TEMPLE! Remember how I said we were afraid we were pushing Shelley too quickly? Well she called bishop, set up her interview, did tons of family history without our help, and texted us one night. “I’m going to the temple Saturday morning if y’all want to come!” Uhh… She was definitely about to go all by herself! So off to the temple we went! It. was. awesome. When Shelley got baptized, her confirmation was incredibly spiritual to me. Being in the temple with her, I felt such joy watching her do baptisms for her family! But when she got confirmed for them… I cried cried cried! The spirit of families coming closer together is tangible. Really – I could feel them rejoicing! Both of her grandma’s are deceased so she did their work, as well as 7 other names. It felt incredible!
I didn’t get to do the names I’d printed off yet. I forgot the paper… but it was okay cause the temple was so busy they wouldn’t let us participate that morning. So I’m saving them for the temple trip we’re trying to put together for Enedina! I can’t wait.
I’ve been practicing my Spanish! My heart pounds any time I see someone Hispanic. It’s ridiculous. BUT I can now say, “Hi! I like your dog!” AND “We’re missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints! We don’t speak Spanish very well, but there are other missionaries who do. May they come to your house? What day? What time? Thank you! We can promise that as you listen to their message your family will be blessed”. Whoop, there it is. I can promise other blessings too… Like, you’ll feel greater peace and happiness. Or increase your faith. Generic stuff like that… It’s awesome. All the Spanish missionaries say I have a better Spanish accent than even they do! Elder Gamez, the one who’s fluent, says so too. So it must be true! I was supposed to be Latino I think. Somehow I ended up extremely white… ahh man!
This week has been really great. It was exhausting. It was so spiritual. We’ve been working a lot with members and it’s been interesting… Some of them tell us how they struggle with reading and praying. I’m all, “Whoa. I would have never told the missionaries that” but they do! They just randomly tell us. But it makes me feel better knowing I’m not the only one who struggled with it… Some of the ladies in my ward are BEAUTIFUL and their kids are PERFECT and they look like they’ve got it all goin’ on. Man. It stresses me out sometimes that soon that will be expected of me! Err… But then they open up and tell us how human they are. It’s amazing.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not for perfect people. It was created for us; imperfect people. I’ve really learned how important it is to pray and read daily. It’s really hard sometimes! Even as a missionary I’d rather jump in bed instead of praying sometimes because I know that once I start praying it’ll be another 20 minutes before I get to sleep because I have too much to tell Heavenly Father. I had a companion fall asleep during our companionship prayer once because I kept going and going… BUT that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t pray. My friend Jordan wrote me and said, “Did you know Eyring tells Heavenly Father the jokes he heard that day?” maybe I told y’all that last week, but I still love it and think about it all the time! But it made me realize we truly can tell Heavenly Father ANYTHING and he genuinely wants to hear about it. Man – I love praying. I love being a missionary because you get the joy of praying all the time! (: It’s awesome.
I love being a missionary! It has some serious ups and downs, but the ups are so sweet you forget about the downs. I LOVE being in Summerwood! This area seems like one where the work wouldn’t progress, but I know that there is some serious work to be done! We have some great potentials to work with. I’m excited.
A mission is for everyone! No matter the challenges we think we may have, or the million reasons we can justify for not going, but it’s the best thing anyone could do. I love that I have so many friends on missions; I miss and admire them so much. Especially my cousins and grandma! It’s AWESOME knowing my family is backing me up; out doing the exact same thing I am. Serving Heavenly Father brings no greater joy. I’m scared that life will be boring and un-fulfilling after the mission.
I miss and love y’all so much! Thanks for everything!
— Sister Stockinger