Well I'm in DC! Or technically, Maryland right now. Maryland is so pretty. I'm in Germantown and Poolesville which is the very top of mission boundaries and I could easily accidentally end up in Virginia, which I won't because I'm obedient. It doesn't feel like I'm on the east coast, it feels keep like I'm in California. Except there's no mountains, just lots of hills and trees and roads that don't make sense. I can never tell which direction I'm facing because there's no mountains to direct me.
Tuesday morning I had to get on a bus at 4:30am with Sister Hansen to go to the airport. They took us to the Provo front runner station where 50 of us had to get on with all our luggage which took us to salt lake and then we had to get on the trax to the airport and it was just long and stressful. Finally we arrived at the airport and Delta was cool and was on the far side so we had to walk a long way and our arms were killing us. Fun stuff.
We arrived in DC at 3:45ish. There, the President's assistants met us and then President and Sister Cooke did. They gave us each a Book of Mormon to give away and then we got on the metro to go to the Temple Visitor's Center. On like the second or third train(?) we got on, a Russian man sat next to me who goes to the Russian-Orthodox church. We talked for a while and I told him a bit about my church and missionaries. He was very nice. Before he got off, I gave him a DC Temple VC card and told him to come by some time. Missionary status!
The Temple is GORGEOUS, like it doesn't even look real. It's a castle! I haven't done a session yet because I haven't had time, but I will this Friday I think. We took pictures which hopefully you've seen and went inside the VC for a bit. Then Sister Hansen and I drove with President and Sister Cooke to the mission home. It's such a beautiful home. There, we had interviews just about health and our interests and we had dinner and a testimony meeting which was great. I absolutely love President and Sister Cooke, they are so sweet.
Sister Hansen and I slept at a senior couple's house that night which was nice. Then the next day we had dinner at the mission home and then went to the VC for transfers. There's a huge auditorium there and I met my companion. The departing missionaries bore their testimonies which was cool but weird since it was my first day there. Apparently I got called to the best mission in the history of life according to everyone there(: Others get called to distant lands but I'm called to the capital of God's chosen land so beat that.
My companion is Sister Johnson. I love her so much. She's like my mom because she tells me what to do, drives me everywhere, and doesn't let me fall asleep (which is actually good now). She's also very athletic and makes me run up steep hills at 7 in the morning. She does MMA [mixed martial arts?] and her mom is a body builder.
Our area is Seneca. We share it with two elders. They get east and we get west. It's a brand new are for sisters, Sister Johnson and Sister Bascom (hi Denise!) opened it up last transfer. Sisters haven't been here in 15 years. Apparently in our part of the area, Poolesville, lots of elders have been sent home in the past because there are some very pretty girls here... Good thing it's sisters now!
We have 3 investigators we've been teaching. First is Candy. She's friends with Sister Hancock who's a member in our ward. Candy has had a really hard life. The first time we met with her she opened up about everything and it was so intense. She's such a miracle. She met Sister Hancock and at first she didn't want to learn anything about the church but Sister Johnson and Bascom and the ward fasted and prayed for her and a couple days later she said she wanted to take the discussions. She accepted a Book of Mormon after a few tries but hasn't read it yet. But she goes to church! She's so sweet, I adore her. We're gonna have to take things slow but I know this gospel will absolutely bless her life and make her happier.
The next is Dee. Her daughter was baptized 3 years ago. She's a drama teacher and so awesome and was also at church yesterday. She's gonna get baptized as soon as her son's friend returns from his mission in Texas in April so he can do it. She's so cool I love her so much.
The third is Susan. She's older and her late husband was a Mormon. She's on date to be baptized in March. The only problem is tithing and we're not sure how much she actually understands. She's been taking the discussions for over a year but she might not be totally there. As long as she has faith then she's good to go, we just want to make sure she really understands first. I think she's good, she's very excited. She's a funny woman.
It's weird and fun being a missionary because I have this overwhelming love for everyone I talk to and especially my investigators. I can't even explain how much I already love these people and I haven't even been here a week yet. It's so great.
The ward we're in is so great. We've had some member meals so far and it's great. Everyone was going up to me and introducing themselves on Sunday and they're so on board with member missionary work. It's honestly member referrals that work the best because the people they know will have an anchor and a friend at church and are so much more likely to join with us. We still tract a little bit, like last night, but it's mainly member work and reactivation of less actives.
I just need you all to know that Heavenly Father is so incredible and there's always a reason for everything. I love it! He's helping and protecting us. Let me tell you a few of the ways. First, on the freeway a semi truck merged into our lane without looking and missed hitting us by a couple feet! It was so scary, I literally thought we were gonna be hit. Angels, man. Also, Sister Johnson and I were driving down a dark, windy road (there's lots here) and someone was tailgating us. He turned off and not even ten seconds later Sister Johnson decided to turn on her brights RIGHT when a family of deer crossed the road. Once again, we barely missed hitting something. This time a baby deer by inches following after its parents. If she hadn't turned on her brights right then, we wouldn't have seen them in time. And if that car hadn't just barely turned off, it would've rear ended us.
Also, this morning Sister Johnson was making me run up another hill and I way dying. She told me to make it to a stop sign which was maybe 100 ft away but it seemed forever away and I felt like I was in a dream where I was running in place. She told me not to stop and so I did not stop even though I wanted to. I gave a quick cry up to God to help me (I'm not a wimp, even she was struggling) and a few seconds later I started to speed up. It felt like it does when you're walking and an impatient parent or friend pushes on your back to make you walk faster. Like it literally felt like some cute, poor angel was pushing me up that hill. It was so amazing and insane. The last 20 feet He let me do it on my own to prove to myself that I'm strong. Love it. I totally sound weird but I'm not making it up!!!!
Finally, the crowning jewel. So last night Sister Johnson and I were trying to find the apartment of a less active woman. We had the apartment building but not the number so we went tracting which was terrifying when she nodded at me to knock on a door. We didn't find her. But anyway, we realized later that we had locked our keys in the car so we called Sister Hancock to give us a ride. Our roommates wouldn't be home for an hour to let us in the apartment so she took us to her place. We talked for a bit and her inactive son was there. Usually he ignores the missionaries but this time he stayed up there and also their recent convert friend, Jeff, was there. After talking for a while, Sis Johnson asked me to share a message. I frantically thought of something to say and then thought of my favorite scripture, Micah 7:7 so I read it and bore my testimony. Sister Hancock started crying, and her son Nathan listened and I made eye contact with him a couple times. It was so powerful. After, she thanked me so much for that and Sister Johnson and I thanked God that she locked the keys in the car so we could teach Nathan. And then this morning when we got the spare key, we were afraid the car would be towed away. But it wasn't because we had unknowingly parked in the guest parking. What?
Anyway, that's my week! I love the VC, I go there Wednesdays and Saturdays and it's so fun to talk to people and give tours and learn and bare testimony! I still get tired but I've discovered the magic of mints. Feeling tired? Pop a mint in your mouth and it wakes you up! And I just need to remember to forget myself and go to work. I love it here. I haven't actually been to DC yet but while we were landing I briefly saw the Washington monument and the capital. I'll go there maybe next week.
Love, Sister Black
Celeste and Sister Johnson