I am here, I love it, and my goodness is it difficult! Walking around and telling people that you are a missionary is harder than it looks. Literally one woman looked at us and said "I know what you do..." and that was about the gist of our conversation. There is rejection, that is to be sure. The hard part isn't that someone isn't going to like me, the hard part is that I KNOW the message of the restored gospel is EXACTLY what they need! It is sad to see someone reject the only lasting happiness that they are going to ever find. Hmph. I love them anyways. Most people are really nice about beating around the bush that they don't like us, but no matter how we are rejected, I love them anyways.
Enough about rejection! I am sorry I started with that! I actually LOVE Montana. The ward is nice, the small branch we serve in is very kind, and the people we go teach are warm. I have several people to introduce you to:
1) Brother Wayne Mitchell - He is our ward mission leader. He is 78 years old, was baptized a year ago, and will be sealed to his wife in the Rexburg Temple next week. He reminds me of Tim Burke. I think that is the kindest thing I could say about anyone. Every week, he and his wife (who was baptized 3 years ago) have dinner for the missionaries and some of the less actives in the ward. His love works miracles for people. Brother Mitchell is a hoot too! He teases all of the time. It took three years to get him baptized and the first time I met him he told me he had a fridge full of missionaries. (Just pictures on the front, but I was thinking..."welcome to Montana Sister Smith") I love the Mitchells, he always says that he wants his home to be warm and welcoming to every missionary that is far from home. Mother, I will have to get their address and you will have to send him a Christmas card.
2) Phyllis Lee - She is 83, was baptized about 10 years ago. We went and visited her yesterday, she just got home from the hospital and is in great spirits. She only wears one earring because she got in a bar fight once when a woman was hitting on Sister Lee's husband. She lost part of her ear lobe. As a badge of honor, she only wears one earring everyday, like the long dangling kind. On her side table by her chair, she has a picture of her husband ( he passed away quite a while ago) wearing pink fuzzy pajamas while camping. The story goes like this: She was working, he was in charge of packing for the trip. He didn't pack for himself, and so he got to wear her pajamas for a day. She said any strife of keeping the picture was worth it. I for one, agree. She is spunky woman with an amazing testimony. Her seven children, and numerous grandchildren don't understand why she is a Mormon, but her belief is an example even to me!
3) The Williams family. part of our area is White Sulpher Springs, which is 45 minutes west of Townsend. We go there everyother weekend to tract and to go to the branch on Sunday. We stay with the Williams family. Brother Williams got his mission call to Brazil, but got sick while in the MTC. Fifteen years later, and I am determined to have a conversation in Portuguese! They have three little girls who are the cutest things. They have an almost six year old who literally looks like she is three, she is Tiny! Sister Williams reminds me of Laura Hughes in a way, and she let me read a cookbook. I loved her instantly.
4) Sister Van Leishout. My trainer. She is patient with me and lets me study Portuguese all I want. I love her to bits! She is from Olympia, WA and has about three months left on her mission. I am her third greenie, bless her soul. She has a degree in Music from Washington State, and just turned 28? Anyways I like her a lot. she has a great sense of humor, and she has a tremendous love for the people of Townsend. She has been here almost 5 months and knows everybody! she is an inspiration.
The town is small, it is a 40 minute drive to get to Wal mart on Pday. But yes we have a truck. which is great because not many roads are paved:)
I have compiled a small list of ways to know you are in Montana:
- You know you are in Montana if a mother won't let her son watch Bambi because hunting season starts next week.
- People tell you to eat bears that have been eating berries not fish.
- You offer someone zucchini, and they decline because they don't want to fill their freezer too full in case their husband shoots an elk on his hunting trip.
- Tracting in White Sulpher is difficult because there is a demolition derby, a parade and a rodeo for Labor Day weekend.
- And finally, it is September 5th and there is ice on your truck when you try to wash it on P-Day.
I love it here! I can't wait to tell you more.
For now, just know that while yes, Missionary work is hard, it is the greatest privilege I have ever had to tell people about their Savior. It is the best thing I have ever done to be loving and kind to someone and reflect well on the church that I represent.
Sister Smith ( not seester smeech... yet!)