You know, when I was preparing to go on a mission, no one ever talked about how close you would get to the people you were with in the MTC. We bonded so much, I absolutely love them all. I could talk more about it, but that would take a long time, maybe I'll talk about them when I get home. But just know, they are awesome and I love each one of them and I'm very sad we can't email the elders in our mission.
It was really nice skyping home on Mother's day. It was so special to see my three younger brothers all there, all crowded around the laptop, and my grandma, and Dad, and of course, my dear mother. It was only a 45 minute call, but it was pretty perfect. I love you all! I'm praying for you every night!
Tuesday was a different kind of day because we had zone conference, so the night before two other sisters who drove down stayed in our apartment and everything. Basically it goes companionship (two missionaries), district (a few companionships), zone (a few districts). And we actually had two zones there, about... thirty missionaries give or take? It was nice because it was at the church we normally have meetings at. We here who are serving in Bismark didn't have to go out of our way to travel.
One of the best things that happened as a result of zone conference was on Monday (Preparation Day, P Day) playing basketball and volleyball with other people in the zone, having more people than usual to play with. Man, I've noticed, I absolutely looooove to play volleyball. It's about the funnest thing when you aren't worried about keeping score. And just playing with people who you know and you just laugh with them. I laugh the whole time, it's great! And I've noticed that I've grown to feel that way toward really anything we play. I used to hate sports with a passion! I guess it just depends on who you're playing it with and the reason behind why you're playing.
Zone conference is great, absolutely wonderful, because you have a chance to be spiritually energized and edified by the seasoned missionaries and all of the mission leaders. It's like a big fireside for missionaries. It was awesome. The talk that I loved the most was Elder Casey's talk. He talked on representing Christ with dignity. And he defined the words. Dignity- Worthy of respect and honor. Represent- Being appointed to speak in someone's stead. And he nailed the major fear that missionaries have of doing this. We are afraid we will lose our identity. We are afraid that we won't be able to express ourselves like we used to and change so much that we will be a different person entirely, which in some cases it might be a good thing, but we liked who we used to be... will we loose that? We don't want to give that up. He pointed out that fun and dignity can coexist. I loved this talk because we as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints commit to "always remember [Christ]" every week when we take the sacrament. Thinking of that as representing Christ with dignity helps me to live that promise.
The other major event that happened this week was exchanges. We as missionaries go on exchanges every so often. I kiiiiinda knew about this before the mission field, but not really. On exchanges you swap companions; it's a great thing to mix it up a little bit because missionary work can get a bit monotonous, especially with the same companion day in and day out. I was very grateful for exchanges because I was able to see how someone else went about doing missionary work and was able to better get a feel for what I'm doing that I don't need to worry about as much or that I need to work on. It just made me feel a lot better having another example of a missionary to look at. I'm able to rest a lot more contented if I have something to righteously compare myself too, if I have multiple examples.
Last thing I'll talk about is a family who we visited just yesterday, absolutely stellar members. They call each other bear and rabbit, so adorable. Bear, because he's a big hairy guy (though he looks like Santa Clause with a trimmed beard, so not gross dark hair), and Rabbit because she moves so fast, always bouncing from place to place. They're an older couple, but not two old, and Bear is slowly dying. He has diabetes and his pancreas has already had all the insulin squeezed out of it, so he has to take the insulin shots. The problem is, his body doesn't digest artificial insulin well at all, so he has to inject quite a bit more than the usual person which makes all the sugars that he takes into his body turn straight to fat. So he'll get heavier and heavier until fluid fills his lungs and his heart has too much strain on it, causing death. I hope I explained that correctly. Regardless, it's a vicious cycle that he can't get out of, and he's stuck at home because he can't walk long distances and such.
But oh my goodness, he is so incredibly smart. He is so knowledgeable, both spiritually and secular. And he thinks the world of his wife, it's so cute. He sets her up on a pedestal, just can't say enough good things about her. They told us their whole story of how they met, and she would push him away so much! He was crushed so many times poor guy! But she's such a great women. And they are pretty wealthy people, because she's a psychiatrist and he used to work in the oil field, Rabbit buys us groceries every time we come over; super nice. And Bear is so funny! Oh my goodness, this is one of the families that I will rave about when I come back.
I hope you're all doing well. The weather is beautiful here! I love you and I'll talk to you next week!