Monday, October 3, 2016

Wake me up when September Ends

Well, ladies and gents. I'm sitting here staring at my computer screen, not really quite sure what to say, seeing as I'll be seeing a large majority of you in four days, unless you don't love me enough to be at the airport at 11:15pm (; Haha just teasing. 
So I've decided that I couldn't put it into words any better than the great Billie Joe Armstrong already did, "Wake me up when September ends." 
September's over, and I'll be home Friday night. 
Obviously, I still have a few days left to be a stellar missionary, and that's just what I plan to do, amidst all the packing and crying and saying goodbye. 
But instead of going through my week, play-by-play, I've decided that I'll share with you what I learned the most from my mission, along with a few really neat highlights from this week and probably a bazillion photos. Depending on if the can handle that. 
Here goes!

During my exit interview with President Miles, I was a little.... well, distraught might be too strong of a word, but it fits. We'd just gotten out of a lesson with an inactive member who'd told us basically every point of doctrine that caused her to leave the Church. We literally left her house and walked straight into my interview, so I was little shaken up. I felt like all the security I'd gained in my testimony was slipping away in the few days I have left as a full-time missionary, and I openly expressed that concern to President. 
He gave me some of the greatest advice I think I've received my whole mission. 
That if I go home, and I look for reasons to leave the Church, I'll find them. 
But if I go home, and I maintain the habits I've gained on my mission, focusing my attention to the basic and true doctrines and principles of the gospel, my testimony will strengthen and be able to withstand the blows of the adversary. 
I basically cried the whole interview, which is saying something because that's not my thing, to cry a lot, especially in front of people. 
But I just want you all to know how much my mission has meant to me. 
I came on a mission, not really sure why I was here. I knew that I needed to go, but I wasn't sure what the reason was. My testimony was okay, but it wasn't much. Over the past 18 months, however, it's been stretched, pulled, pushed, squished, stepped on, shot down, built up, tested, all of those adjectives that imply opposition. And I look at it now, and I think, "Dang. I'm nowhere near the person I was when I left." And then I think, that's exactly what happens to us every single time we're faced with opposition in life. When we're being pushed or pulled, we're growing. It's like when your sister borrows and stretches out your shirt. Except you want to grow, unlike your shirt... you don't really want that to grow... okay, bad example, but you get what I'm tryin' to say. 
I've had so many experiences where I've had the opportunity to testify of Christ. My trainer just emailed me and reminded me about a time that President said we should speak of Christ everyday, and then shared an experience where she did just that in class the other day and the Spirit it brought. I know that to be true. We can be great at paying our tithing, or living the word of wisdom, or even doing our home/visiting teaching. But if we're not centered on Christ as we do each of those things, there's no point in doing it. Christ is the reason, as cliche as that sounds. He really is. This is His gospel. Relying on Him is what will get us through everything, and I've definitely seen that thus far. 

I'd planned on telling you some neat things from this week, but I'm running out of time so I'll give you a brief synopsis. 
We got a new investigator this week! Her name is Karen. Hehehe. She was a referral the other sisters got and passed off to us because she's in our area. We contacted her and shared the first part of the Restoration, leaving her with a copy of the Book of Mormon. She has had some crazy life trials in the last few years, and as we talked about Christ and the relief He can give her, her eyes filled with tears. See? As we speak of Christ, the Spirit is there. So amazing. 

Conference was amazing, including the General Women's Broadcast and the Priesthood Session. Cool story, John Larson that President Monson told the story about in the Priesthood Session is Sister Romney's grandpa! I was sitting next to her watching it and next thing I know, she smacks my arm and goes, "Shut up, THAT'S MY GRANDPA!!" And then she cried. So that was neat. 
But I just loved the spiritual uplifting we were able to receive this weekend. It was amazing to me that every single talk, I felt could be applied to me, or to someone we're teaching. Crazy how the Spirit works. 

Last night, some of my favorite members threw a surprise going away party for me, and I was able to see some of my other favorites that came down from Airdrie and Lethbridge! So sweet. Along with being able to teach and testify of Christ, I've made some amazing, lifelong friends and saying goodbye to them is brutal. But it makes me love them that much more(:

Well, folks. I sure do love ya! (that's a Canada Calgary Mission joke because President literally says that every single time he says that in his Utahn accent)
Thank you for all you do. Honestly, there has been so much support to me and my family and I know the Lord will bless you all for your loves and support and service. 
Love you!

<3 Sister Pipkin 

1) a photo I took of my nametag in Waterton last week
2) WARNING: trunky photo -- I expire before my milk does... hehehe 
3) Brother and Sister Geddes made us these amazing blankets! 
4) during conference, I cuddled with the Nickle's cat... even though I hate cats. This one was nice, though. 

5) Sister Brignone and I have a mouse in our kitchen, so this is me on the counter and her on a chair as we tried to set up traps to catch it... no luck yet, any advice on how to catch this smart little fart head will be greatly appreciated 

18 months

My Plan is dumb

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Last Zone Conference and Last goodbyes (for now!)

This week we had zone conference, and I, along with three other sisters I came out with and am now serving with, realized that it would be our last one. So that was sad. I played the guilt trip card with them during the testimony meeting and made them all go up and bare testimony after me because it's our last one. They'll thank me later(: 
But at the close of the conference, I had to say a lot of final goodbyes, at least for the next year or so. A lot of missionaries I've become friends with won't be home for another year, so I did the best I could with a good handshake for "K, see you next year!" Rough. That was rough. 


Monday: Was another day of goodbyes. We went into Lethbridge for shopping because everything in Raymond was closed for the Long Weekend, and I ran into a bunch of other missionary friends, that while it was good to see them, goodbyes sucked. Again. Gosh dang it. 
As we were walking into WalMart, a member walked up to us and handed us a $50 and said, "Here, Sisters, it's all I've got!" 
Oh my heck, so sweet. I can't believe the kindness of the members. 
And it was such a blessing because as we're checking out, Sister Brignone turns to me and goes, "I forgot my wallet." So that really saved us!

Tuesday: We helped Sister steed harvest and process some garden produce, carrots, and beets. Everyone here is so into gardens. It almost makes me want to have a garden when I go home. Almost. 
We got lunch with our district, and then visited the Ackroyd's. Their 9-year-old daughter has a friend that apparently wants to be baptized, so we went over to talk about how we can start working with her and her parents. Our ideal goal is to teach the whole family instead of just the daughter. It makes retention so much easier when they have the support of their whole family. 
We had a lesson with Kendra and talked about setting goals to help her go to the temple, and then we started walking to another appointment we'd set up. Our route took us past the school, but we didn't know everyone was letting out of school at that exact moment. It took us 20 minutes to get around the block because of all the little kids running up and hugging us and yelling out their bus window at us. I felt like I was on the Red Carpet or something! Missionaries are like celebrities in this town, I just love it. I'll definitely miss that. 

Wednesday: We had a meeting with Brother Bridge, our stake mission leader, and talked about how all the missionary work is going in the stake. He's so awesome and dedicated to helping the work progress. Plus, he and his wife have us over for lunch every other Wednesday. :D 
We then spent a while practicing music for zone conference and for a musical number on Sunday. I was asked to put together a number with the sisters from our zone, and we did Come Thou Fount, so we worked on parts. And then Sister Brignone and I were asked to do a musical number in church on Sunday, so we practiced for that. That was actually a pretty cool story. I've been thinking for weeks now about doing a musical number, but we cover four wards and I just wasn't sure how to make it work or who could play piano or anything like that. And then the other night, Sister Smith in the 10th ward who's the music coordinator calls us and says, "Sisters, I feel weird asking you this, and it's okay if you say no, but do either of you sing? Can you sing on Sunday? I'll play the piano and I can play anything you want, but will you sing on Sunday? I just feel like I needed to ask you." HECK YEAH WE SING!!! So we put together a piece and started working on it with her Wednesday evening. 
We had a ward BBQ for 4th ward, and one of our less-actives came! We were pretty excited about that because she hasn't been out for a while. Slow and steady(: 

Thursday: Was our zone conference. Oh my goodness, I wish I could copy and paste the notes I took because it was just so amazing. I love zone conference. I love President and Sister Miles. I love other missionaries and feeling the Spirit and sharing testimony one with another. I just love it. 
Our musical number went well. Kind of.... Our practices that morning went really well, and we had 10 sisters singing 4 parts, and I was super stoked. But I didn't think we'd be able to get the key changes without someone playing our parts, so we got the Senior Sister to play for us, but she didn't get there early enough to practice with us. So we just got up and sang our song, and she was missing half of the music! So part of it was a train wreck, but part of it was really good. It went pretty well. :D 

Friday: Was grandparent's day at Good Sam's, so we played some games with them about grandparents and families, and then had banana cream pie cake. Mmmm. 
There's a couple in our stake called as LDS Services missionaries that run the Addiction Recovery Program, and they invited all the missionaries over for a brief seminar on it to better learn how to teach our investigators about using the Atonement, not just in overcoming addictions, but for everything we are to overcome in life that we're faced with. That was really neat to learn more about and realize that any challenge we've been given in this life is for our learning, but we can't do it all on our own. We have to accept Christ and allow Him to help us. 

Saturday: Was a little bit crazy. We started out trying to help a family side their house, but there was a bit of miscommunication, and the dad wasn't there to tell us what to do, so we couldn't really do much. His wife gave us cupcakes for our trouble, though. It was pretty funny because a set of elders rode their bikes to Raymond from Magrath. That's a good 15-minute car ride. And it was windy. Sucks to be them. 
We got lunch and then Sister Scoville called and asked if we could come help in their garden. We were already in service clothes, and we've been trying to work with their less-active son, so this proved to be a good opportunity. And then they fed us after. 
It might sound like I'm getting fed really well here. That's because I am. Don't be surprised when you see them roll me off the plane when I come home. #Fatty4Lyfe #SorryNotSorry 
We rehearsed one last time with Sister Smith for our musical number, and then we weekly planned, since we didn't get to do that on Thursday. Then we got asked to come help move a piano. And by that, I mean we supervised. We got there and they still had to go get the piano, and the husband jokingly said, "You can stay behind and clean our kitchen if you want." Now, I hate weekly planning, so I used that as an excuse to take a break from it. We cleaned their kitchen. :D

Sunday: We had way too many meetings to be at, so we went on splits. We got the Tatlow girls to come with us, I went with Shayla for the day, and Emma went with Sister Brignone. I should've taken a photo... dang. Anyways, those girls are troopers. 7 1/2 hours of church is not for the faint of heart, especially on your first time going on splits with the sisters. Bless their souls. 
Our musical number went really well. I got a video of us practicing a few days ago, I'll try to send it. 
We had supper with the Cahoons in the 4th ward, and their 10-year-old girl was quite the connoisseur of bad jokes. Funny jokes, but only if you understood the punchline, which I didn't half of the time. 
We attended a YSA broadcast that Elder and Sister Cook spoke at, broadcasted from Washington D.C. there were a few things that I loved from their talks that I felt I can apply to these last few weeks of missionary work, but also to my next life when I go home, the After-Mission Life. :P
1) The best medicine for loneliness is work and service on behalf of others. How true is that! Every time I serve someone, I feel SO GOOD! After helping that family clean their kitchen the other day, I was ready to go out and clean the whole world's kitchens!
2) "Being sincerely Christlike is an even more worthy goal than being authentic." -Quentin L. Cook. He applied this to social media and how we interact with others on it, but I think it applies to every aspect of our interaction with others, especially with those who know and identify us as members of the Church. 
2) Focusing on the temple will help you achieve worthy and righteous goals you have set for yourself. 'Nuff said. 

And that's my spiritual thought for the week. It's been so good seeing the Lord bless my life. I love being a missionary. It's so amazing. 
Love you all!

<3 Sister Pipkin 

1) All the sisters at zone conference, including Sister Miles! 
2) Elder Robbins and. We're BFF's and he just got transferred to B.C. Ignore Elder Mahoney photobombing us. 
3) Sister Romney and I. No goodbyes here, yet, I just love her a lot
4) Elder Jones complained that I'd taken a photo of everyone else but him (even though we already have a photo) so I took one. He makes me look short. Really short...
5) My MTC trio reunited, Sister Anthian, Sister Trimble, and I 
6) The beauty of Southern Alberta
7) The ARP couple that we met with, their last name is Karren. Pronounced Karen. They have a little African doll that said, Karen. #Goals

Monday, September 5, 2016

We survived transfers!

Good news! I'm still in Raymond! Which means I get to spend my last five weeks among these wonderful people that I've grown to love so much!
Sister Brignone and I are still together and all is well in Zion. 
Except Sister Taylor got transferred from the other sister companionship in Raymond. That was sad. 
And the really sad part is when you hit a point in your mission where you realize you really won't see some of these people again until they come home. Rude. 


Despite it being transfer week, which is usually a gong-show, we had such a good week! 

Monday: We had breakfast at Tekarra's because we knew Sister Taylor was getting transferred, and transfers are on Thursday, when Tekerra normally has us for lunch on Fridays. So we had a goodbye breakfast and then for lunch, the Lacey's had us all over for a BBQ at their house. And then, Alicia called me! She'd gotten my number from some other missionaries (I think, Idk how she got it actually :P) and she came and saw me in Raymond. So that was quite the pleasant surprise. 
We had supper with the Stringam's and she made Cafe Rio imitation. Mmmm. I love it. We shared the soap and pepper object lesson on baptism because their daughter, Finlay, is getting baptized next weekend. Then we had FHE with the Wannops and we did an object lesson about the Book of Mormon. We have a piece of paper and we fold it, telling the story of the Book of Mormon, and then tear it once and it opens into a cross, and the remaining pieces spell LOVE and LIVE. We talk about how the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ, how it is centred on Him and teaches us how we can be closer to Him. 
We then had FHE with Yosh and her kids. Her older kids aren't active, but they were all there and stayed for the message! We shared the Plan of Salvation and talked about everyone's favorite parts of this marvelous plan Heavenly Father has set for us. 
Then we started heading home, and it's that time of year where it's dark by 8:30, so we're walking home in the dark, on poorly lit streets, and we see this huge thunderstorm rolling in. The lightning is flashing pretty crazy and it's getting cold and windy, and we're thinking, "Heavenly Father, we're trying SO HARD to be home by 9, please don't let us get rained on!" We made it home on time, and not 5 minutes after we got in, it started raining. Boo yah!!! #Blessings. 

Tuesday: Was bitter-sweet. We were pretty sure we knew who was getting transferred, so we said our goodbyes for the most part during District meeting to the missionaries in our district we wouldn't see before transfers. 
We had a lesson with Kendra and talked about her reading in Jacob 5. She actually was able to apply things from her reading to her life, which I think is awesome because Jacob 5 is always a struggle for me haha. 
That morning, I had read in D&C 38 about seeking after eternal riches, things that will bring us closer to Heavenly Father. I thought about what all those things could be; our families, the temple, meaningful relationships with those around us, the scriptures. And then we stopped by Tosh and visited with her for a bit, and I felt prompted to share that scripture with her. After I read it and explained what it meant to me, she said, "It's funny that you say that because I was literally just thinking about that and really needed to hear that," and then she went on to explain what she'd experienced the last couple of days. So neat. I love it when things I didn't plan to study for teaching are applicable for others.
3rd ward had their ward BBQ, and after we had finished eating, they assigned us to stand around the salad and dessert table, waving paper plates to keep the wasps away.... I got bored. So I went and played basketball with the youth. Not only do I suck at basketball on a normal basis, but I also suck while wearing a skirt. :D 

Wednesday: WE GOT A NEW INVESTIGATOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Idk, we haven't gotten a new investigator in Raymond since before I got transferred here beginning of June. So I'm pretty stinkin' excited. 
Her name is Melissa, and she was a referral we'd gotten way back beginning of July, but never seemed to be able to contact her. Well, we finally contacted her on Wednesday, and her mom let us in and we had a lesson with her and she wants to learn more! We left her with a Book of Mormon to read and she's pretty interested because she's Native, and she knows that it has a lot to do with her ancestry. The member that referred her and another member whom she rents from, have told her a lot about the church and have had great discussions with her. While she's going through a lot of difficult stuff right now, we're confident that she's been prepared and this will richly bless her life. I"M SO EXCITED!!!!
That evening, we had transfer supper at the Ball's and they stuffed us with dessert. Then Mamma J had us all over for dessert pt. 2, and I just about died from all the dessert.
I said my final goodbyes to Sister Taylor. Sad day. Also, I look 12 compared to her in the photo of us. No laughing. I get short jokes out the wazoo here. 

Thursday: We weekly planned and made cookies at Sister Steed's because she provided the ingredients. Bless her heart. 
Then, Sister Gleason, who I came out with and go home with, got transferred to Magrath. She calls us and says, "Sister Pipkin, the AP's just told me we're not going home on the 7th, and this isn't a 5 week transfer." Needless to say, I flipped. I called those AP's, and they had no clue what was going on. So I called the mission office and they told me it's stil the 7th, and I can calm down. So I did. Kind of. Not really. Because after that was settled, my mom sent Sister Steed my flight itinerary, and I don't fly into IF until flippin' 11:15pm????? I'm going to be so exhausted. So if you still love me, please still come see me at the airport :D. And then we filled the dates in our planner and I realized that I don't really have 5 weeks, I have about 4 weeks and a bit, because that 5th week is transfer week. Which means pday on Monday, District Meeting and saying goodbye and crying on Tuesday, saying goodbye and crying on Wednesday, transfers Thursday morning, gone on Friday. 
Needless to say, Thursday was a freak out day. And if you know me, you know that I don't freak out quietly. 
But we had a block party with some of the members in 1st ward to try and fellowship some less-actives and new move-ins and it had such a great turn out! And Sister Wersey and I had matching shirts(:

Friday: We made cookies with the residents at Good Sam's. So fun. As always, Eddie provided much entertainment and I just love him. 
We had some really good lessons with a few of our less-actives, and most of them are progressing towards activity! So exciting. Brother Geddes is returning to full activity, and he asked me if I'd come back up when he goes through the temple! OF COURSE I WILL OH MY GOODNESS!!!! So that was exciting. 

Saturday: Was cold and windy. The weather is changing really quickly here. Which is too bad because I sent home most of my colder clothing. Oops. 
We played baseball with some members who had invited non-members and less-actives. Afterwards, we were able to share a message, and it was a really neat atmosphere. 
We contacted some people and set up appointments for next week, and then went and helped the Nickle's paint. I love Sister Nickle. She's like my mom. Literally, she reminds me of you, mom. We talked a lot about my stresses and anxieties of going home and it was really comforting and an answer to prayer to have some mom time until I can have my real mom. 
We had supper at Cathy's and she tried to kill us with some stuffed jalapeno peppers. She didn't know they were as spicy as they were, and they were really really good! But they made me cry. And then I paid for it on Sunday. Yahoo!

Sunday:  We had a lot of less-active members come to church, and it was so awesome. One couple walked in and I literally jumped up and said, "YES!" 
We had supper with Bishop Smith and his family in 3rd ward and did my favorite object lesson about the Book of Mormon with the can. And then the boys wanted me to teach them how, so I did. 
We had correlation with our ward mission leader in 10th ward, and then we visited the Steedman's. Tim's parents brought back some cheese from the states, the kind that they put on nachos at football games, and Tosh made some for us and it was so good, I about died. Mmm. 

This morning, I was studying in D&C 33 and verse 17 stuck out to me so much. 
"Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom"
And it hit me, that so many times on my mission, I've seen strong members of the church go inactive out of nowhere. I realized, that we don't know when Christ will come again. We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, or even later today. We don't know what trials we're going to face that could shake our testimonies. We just don't know. President and Sister Miles said that we should live our lives in a way that in five years, they can call us up and invite us to go to a temple session with them, and we'll be ready. We'll be worthy. Our faith is strong because we've been acting and building upon it, trimming our lamps and keeping oil with us. We need to do the things that will help us be ready for tomorrow, today. 

Love you all so much! Hope everyone's families are doing well and the start of school is going well! 

<3 Sister Pipkin 

1) Alicia came to see me!
2) I found this Buddah statue on someone's porch and had to rub its belly for good luck (;
3) Goodbyes with Sister Taylor!
4) I made Mexican corn for lunch during weekly planning. Mmm. They don't do Mexican food right here.
5) Sister Wersey and I, twinning!
6) My ridiculous tan lines from my shoes this summer.