Right now we're sitting on the side of highway 26 waiting for a member to come get us. Our car ran out of gas. Happy birthday to me. *facepalm*
Anyway, the missionary week was good, but kinda slow. We had exchanges and that was fun. I went to Spartanburg and got pumpkin cheesecake. It was great. The STLs came to MMA with us and that was fun. I tried Mexican food that I actually liked and it was incredible - I even wrote about it in my journal and titled it "The Mexican Food Renaissance". It was from a place called Papas & Beer and the owner is named M. We met him at the international festival and he thinks we're legit angels. He's the greatest. We referred him to the Spanish elders. Another highlight is that we taught a new investigator named T but he's totally a YSA so. Tough. We just get to give our investigators away to elders. :(
Yesterday I had a little bit of a mental breakdown because I'm officially done with being a teenager. I've been around the sun 20 whole times. What the heck.
So to keep myself happy instead of dwelling on my imminent mortality or something dramatic like that, I've decided to make a detailed list of 20 things I'm grateful for! (It might be more than 20. Don't judge.)
1. My parents. You guys, I'm serious. If you don't know them, you are missing out. My mother is the most committed disciple of Christ I have ever met in my life. I want to be her when I grow up. And my dad is just the cutest goofiest dude ever and he has the best heart. I legit cry about how much I love them. They are the best parents.
2. My siblings. 1: Taran & Lisa (and unborn baby child), AKA Pocahontas and John Smith (you all think Taran is John Smith but you're wrong, he's totally Pocahontas). They are hilarious and the best. I love them a lot. Taran is the official winner for most emails read aloud to companions because they are all super duper entertaining. Lisa wins the award for most happiest ever because she literally is not ever sad ever. I don't even know how that happens. And they are also giving me a nephew! Hoorah! 2: Timo & Megan. They just got married in May and they are the cutest people that ever lived. Megan is so funny and I knew before I left that she would fit right into our family. I appreciate her sharing her spiritual experiences with me, especially the ones from the temple. Timo is a very thoughtful person and also freaking hilarious. He is also a good photographer and mainly is really dedicated to the gospel which is great. 3: Izak. Izak is the sweetest person. He cares a whole lot about everyone and wants to make sure they're all doing okay. He also says REALLY FUNNY THINGS and overall we just get along really well. Like, so well we'd probably be friends even if we weren't siblings. So that's really cool. Also, he is really great with little kids and tries to learn everyone's names in all his classes at school. Nobody gives him enough credit for the hard work he puts in. He is a serious winner and he can do anything he puts his mind to. 4: Micah. Micah actually writes me every week even though he is a teenager. So he is inheriting everything I own if I die on my mission. CONGRATULATIONS! But really, I appreciate Micah's desire to do the right thing. It's very mature for his age. He is doing a great job supporting things at home. Also, he's just really funny. (Are we sensing a theme here?) Also his majestic flowing mane of hair is really something to be proud of. 5: Zane. Zane is a passionate, fiery little guy (little as in he's totally taller than me and his voice has dropped like 9 octaves since I left on my mission). I am grateful that he likes to enjoy the magic of things and also that he's totally down to watch Fantastic Beasts with me 500 times when I get home. (Right?) Also, he has cute freckles And again. Super funny. But in the most random, crazy way ever. 6: Gwen. Gwen has been my sanity ever since she was born 11 years ago. Also, the reason I know how to do hair. Also, basically my inspiration in life. I have never met anyone who loves dragons as much as her. She also is very naturally giving and shares anything she can. Also, she likes to snuggle and spend time with me, which is always a plus. Also, she's...funny. Like, really funny.
3. The Gibbons family. Since the 5th grade, the Gibbons household has been my second home. Tiffany is more like a part of my soul than a best friend. She is the sweetest, most selfless, bravest girl out there. She has been with me through thick and thin. I can count on her. And her family has been so accepting and welcoming to me. They are such blessings in my life and I am so, so grateful for them.
4. The Rice family. Andrew and Abi may have been what started my friendship with the rest of the Rice family, but they have loved me more than I ever thought anyone could. They helped me through some of the toughest years. I'm sure I wouldn't be where I am without them. Also, Andrew and Abi are both doing GREAT things on their missions and I am so proud of them and so honored to be working in the vineyard alongside those two spiritual giants.
5. Garrett Broekhuijsen. Garrett is one of the kindest, most intelligent humans I've ever met. There is almost nothing he wouldn't do to help another person. The coolest thing about Garrett is he helped me see myself clearly. We're like sisters. It's the best.
6. Conner Quiring. Even when our paths go different directions, I know Conner is always there for me. He's definitely my bro. Forever. Maybe even 5ever.
7. Colin Jorgensen. He's always real with me and I love that. He also has probably changed the most out of everyone I knew in high school, in a good way. Also maybe one of the smartest people I know. And hilarious.
8. All of my seminary and institute teachers. I am mostly just super grateful for the excitement they have for the gospel and how they made me excited to be a missionary. Thank you to all you gospel teachers out there! Your enthusiasm and love for the Lord is inspirational.
9. My MTC companions, Sister Laura Janke and Sister Tiffany Cordon. They cried with me, laughed with me, and made the MTC one of the very best experiences of my life. I will be forever grateful for them. They always have a special place in my heart.
10. Sister Kaylee Elizabeth Hansen who is soon to be Kaylee Elizabeth Pratt. (Weird.) She taught me how to be a missionary! HARD! Especially because I thought I already knew how to be a missionary! She handled me so well and with lots of laughter. She is very talented (especially at ping pong) and she has such a good relationship with God. She was the hardest working missionary I ever met, and she's going to be the most beautiful bride! Payton is a lucky man :)
11. Sister Jessica Noel Goettsche. Sister Goettsche is the most loving human being you will ever meet in your whole life. Holy Hannah. She wins all the awards. Sister Goettsche taught me that with God on my side, I can change lives. She also taught me that there are more important things than numbers, that people really matter, that everyone has a purpose and that everyone deserves to be respected and loved. I came away from our companionship a much kinder, much more loving person. I can't thank her enough for all she did for me, and for all the sacrifices she makes for the Lord. Straight up she is such an amazing missionary.
12. Sister Sierra Nicole Julander. I heartily protest that I only got one transfer with this beautiful woman. I am serious you guys. I don't think I have ever laughed harder in my whole life than that one transfer. She is the most ridiculous person I know in the very best way. Never play volleyball with her. It's hopeless. I promise. She also is just very organized and for some reason she just really liked me a lot which made me feel special.
13. Sister Clara Rae Kniffen. Sister Kniffen is a special person. She has more love in her heart than most people have. She doesn't make excuses and she loves to laugh. She is stable and trustworthy and selfless and giving and I learned so, so much from our 5 weeks together.
14. Sister Damitu Wesley Haws. Sister Haws and I were like actual siblings. She taught me how to take risks, how to laugh at myself, and how to make things work for me even if everything is going wrong. Also, she supported me through some serious emotional trauma and knows me better than nearly anyone on planet earth. She is so strong and hard working and knows how to just get things done. And she also is so selfless. It doesn't matter what's going on with her personally; she puts it all on hold to help others. She is amazing.
15. Sister Kyla Rae Graves. OH MY GOSH. It's only been 3ish weeks but she is so easygoing and kind. She loves the Lord so much. She is a great support, and she makes me laugh.
16. The Blythewood ward. Even though it wasn't a long stay, it was a good stay. I love the people there.
17. The Moncks Corner ward. Those 7.5 months changed my heart and soul. Especially those sweet ward members who were endlessly willing to help and uplift us missionaries. I am so grateful for all the rides we were given, all the advice that was shared, all the knowledge imparted, and for all the love that they gave. Truly, the Moncks Corner ward is the promised land.
18. My current area. Again, it hasn't been very long, but I am captivated by this place. It is perfect for me to be here right now. I can't explain it at all. But it's true.
19. The Book of Mormon. Because of the Book of Mormon, I am learning to be more like the Savior. I'm serious, the Book of Mormon can help and uplift you if you read it looking for a bright spot of light. It has amazing power to transform your life.
20. The Atonement of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the Father who willingly gave His Son, the Son who willingly gave His life, and for the peace this gift brings to me. Because of my many imperfections, this is the best birthday present I have, and I get to use it literally every day. It is a precious precious thing. I am so, so grateful for it.
*21. ANY REALLY IMPORTANT PEOPLE I FORGOT I AM SO SORRY IF YOU AREN'T ON THIS LIST AND YOU FEEL LIKE YOU SHOULD BE. Amazing uncles and aunts and cousins and grandparents are all included in this number. THANK YOU FOR BEING THE GREATEST DON'T BE OFFENDED I LOVE YOU OKAY BYE
Everyone, I love being a missionary. It's my favorite thing.
Don't let the muggles get you down!
All my love,
*20 Year Old Sister Pew*
22. Any other friends who have changed my life anyone who was involved with LPHS drama and chamber choir because you're all beautiful humans who deserve to be recognized and I am sorry I don't have time in this brief email to delineate your many marvelous qualities.