It SNOWED yesterday. It was only like an inch or so, but it was actual snow. Before Thanksgiving!! I know that's actually not that strange for Utah... but I've barely ever seen snow before Christmas back home!
It was funny, we spoke to Brother Eubank on Saturday about a meeting that we were going to be running on Sunday. (For those that don't remember - he's our stake high councilor over missionary work, and also the weatherman on KSL.) It was rainy and nasty on Saturday, so after our business talk I asked him for a weather update. Because, why not? We don't get to see the news, and weather is important! ;) So he gives us the report and tells us that it'll snow that night.
I really kinda didn't expect it to though... so on Sunday after our meeting I shook his hand to thank him for his help and then said, "Hey, good guess on the whole snow thing." To which he responded with mock outrage, "Guess?! We don't guess!!! That was a calculated report!" "Brother Eubank, I come from a state where we have a love/hate relationship with our weathermen. Especially when it comes to snow... because they're usually wrong." "Well, we strive very hard to not be." Ha! He's an awesome leader. He is a good motivator, super in tune with the Spirit, and he's not afraid to reprimand when necessary. He's very powerful! But I love that on top of all of that, that he'll tease. He's not uptight, but he's very concerned about doing things the right way. It's an incredible combination, and I love that I get to learn from his example.
I'm starting to see why my trainer Sister Haddock would always say that two types of missionaries get sent to serve in Utah: the future leaders, and the basket cases. The leaders to learn... and the basket cases to keep an eye on. I hope I fall into the former category. ;) I really am learning so much from serving here! Yesterday the meeting that we ran with Brother Eubank was with ALL of our ward mission leaders, their ward missionaries and the high councilors assigned to each of those wards. As I looked at the crowd gathered I realized that in my first area I have already worked and associated with more leaders than most missionaries do in their entire missions! 12 ward mission leaders, and 16 bishops so far (because of splits and bishopric reorganizations) Not to mention the stake presidency and a plethora of high councilors. Really if you wanted to learn leadership skills, there's no better place! I'm so blessed. :)
I accidentally saw him on the news this week too. :) The family that we live with called me upstairs to get my mail (longest letter EVER from the wonderful Tammy Norris!!! Made my LIFE!) and they had the news on and he was giving his report. Seriously I think my jaw fell to the floor and I was so excited! I just kept saying, "That's Brother Eubank!!" I'm usually pretty good about looking away when the television is on, but I just couldn't! It's one thing to know that someone you know is the weatherman, and quite another to see it! Especially after 4 months of serving with him. So I texted him afterward about it and he said, "Accident, huh? Do you really want to stick to that story??" I plead the fifth. :) Seriously. Love the teasing.
Speaking of leader men that tease... On Thursday we attended the Young Women of Excellence meeting in the 24th ward. Partly because it's my favorite ward, and partly because we're actually working with a few young women that would be there. Thursday was a hard day though, and Bishop Pierson knew it. So he decided to make a public example of me! Again... I am ALL FOR being teased for the sake of lightening the mood. In his talk to the young women, Bishop Pierson pulled out a burr puzzle that he had shown me the last time I went to his house. I solved it once in about 10 seconds which he was really impressed with... but he took it away from me after I couldn't solve it a second time. I was so sad! He pulled it out as part of an object lesson to the girls - each piece of the puzzle is exactly the same externally with just a few minor differences inside. But each piece isn't very impressive by itself - they all have to be working together to make something beautiful. But if even one piece falls away, the whole structure falls apart. This ward is still new - it's two halves of two former wards that have been meshed together, so I suppose that part of it was to encourage the young women to reach out and envelope everyone in this new ward with love. It was a good message. But the teasing! When he pulled it out he said, "Now, this is something that Sister Tipton will recognize." And I whispered a little too loudly, "YES!!!" So when people looked around I said, "Sorry... I got a little excited..." And Bishop said, "It doesn't take much..." Then he made me stand up and turn around while he solved the puzzle because he didn't want me to see how it was solved. LAME! Ha! As he put it together he teased me about being obedient and there was lots of bantering to distract from the fact that it was taking him a little while to put it together... I think I said, "I solved it in 10 seconds once." "That was an accident" "It was pure genius!" I don't know if the families in the ward thought we were as funny as we did, but heh. Whatever. :) When he finally put it together he demonstrated how pretty it was and made the point about one piece falling away causes the whole structure to collapse. Which it did while he said, "And it would take Sister Tipton 3 days to put it back together...." Afterward he let me play with it, and I solved it. Again. :) Then he showed me how it really works while saying, "Your technique is a little poor." It's true... I could put it together, but it's actually a really cool puzzle!
And that teasing just made my life feel so much better that day too. It was good times!
My light therapy box arrived this week! I love it so much! It makes your eyes reach maximum relaxation in good natural light, which makes happy eyes and then happy people. The things that I've been doing to cope really have been helping a lot. It's clear that I still have depression because I am still so much more impatient and easily frustrated than usual. But I guess it's good for growth. My companion and I go back and forth between getting along really well, and then just being really exhausted from being together. Our personalities are very different and it makes things hard. And I'm super annoyed at myself because if I was in my NORMAL state then it would be so much easier to be patient and charitable and long-suffering with her! But if it was easy then I wouldn't grow. Sometimes it's really tempting to think about all of the things that annoy me about her... and so I've started to try to catch myself in those moments and pick out 5 things that I like. It's not easy! But I realized that I do have SOME control of my thoughts. (Also, disclaimer, please don't read this and think that I think that she's a horrible person. I actually don't... it is just HARD to be glued to someone 24/7, and it's even harder when you're two very different people... what I'm trying to explain is actually my own faults here. I'm not a perfect person because I'm sometimes allowing myself to get annoyed by little things that don't matter, but I'm trying to change that...)
I asked Bishop Pierson if it made me a bad person on those days when I'm not very good at controlling my stress and being kind to her at the same time. He said, "Not a bad person, just a bad companion." Ha. Thanks Bishop. (Another Disclaimer: He in no way meant to belittle me, and I did not feel hurt or accused by his honesty.) And yes well, it's true. But I, like so many millions of us, am a work in progress. I don't LIKE being a bad companion, and it's not EASY to change, but I'm trying. I don't know that I'm always doing my best, but I am making an actual effort. In our second lesson we talk about repentance. Repentance means "change" to become more Christ-like. Christ is perfectly patient, perfectly charitable, and perfectly long-suffering. Even when He was hungry or stressed or overwhelmed by the amount of people that needed Him. I could stand to be more patient, more charitable and more long-suffering when I am hungry and stressed and overwhelmed by the amount of people that need me. :) The worth of every soul is great in the eyes of God. And that includes my companion. It includes me! He loves us all even when we're imperfect, but He loves us even more when we recognize our weaknesses and attempt to refine them.
So in a way, I'm glad to be in the refiner's fire. :)
Sister Pierson (Bishop's wife) taught me some things to help manage the depression. One is called "yogic breathing." Bishop Pierson, always a tease, sometimes refers to this and the essential oils as "voodoo" and keeps calling it things like "How's the yoghert breathing going?" Or "Go do your yoda breathing..." Oh dear...
Then something I said caused him to quote Rocky Horror. It was a really off the wall quote (like most of that movie....) and I said, "Was that Rocky Horror?? No... similar though." And he said, "Yeah, it's cleaned up..." "That was Rocky Horror?! Seriously??" "Um. How do you know that?" "Well Bishop, I was a bit rowdy in my youth as well...." Good times. :)
Sorry the email is kinda all over the place this week. :) So we started teaching the boy who showed up at church a few weeks ago with the Schmidt's and bore his testimony in fast and testimony meeting... even though he's not a member! We dropped by the Schmidt's on Wednesday to try to coordinate a time to teach - we have to coordinate with Michelle Schmidt to make sure that there's an adult female home, with Jonny Schmidt to make sure that he's there with his friend, with him, and with the Elders that serve in his area since he doesn't live in ours. That's lots of talking. :) But when we stopped by on Wednesday the door was answered by a half-naked teenage boy that I didn't recognize. That's happened a few times out here (once a few months ago with a Bishop's son from the 34th ward!) and it's SO FUNNY how embarrassed the boys get when they see the sister missionaries standing there! I was laughing so hard I could barely ask if Michelle was home. The boy who answered the door was a friend of the Schmidt twins, and he called for Michelle. Then Jonny Schmidt peeked from the kitchen to the doorway, in his boxers! He quickly hid behind the wall again. Seriously... laughing so hard. Then Michelle came to the door and invited us in. One of her sons protested saying, "Mom! We're naked!" But ha, didn't faze her! And it didn't faze them either. Silly boys. :) We had a good chat with her, were able to accomplish the business that we needed to, and then helped her clean up her kitchen after the storm of teenage boys blew through. It was a really satisfying and fun visit.
Then when we went back to teach on Sunday (yesterday) she very excitedly pulled out a People magazine saying, "I don't even know if you're supposed to see this, but I don't care because I have to show you!" The piano guys had made it on the top 12 list of things to watch or listen to! They were ranked #6. She even excited showed us One Direction... ranked #8. "Piano Guys beat out One Direction!!!!" It was cute how excited that made her. I love this family. :)
Ok, so now for some news about the area! Irene had cancelled both of our appointments with her last week, which made us super sad because she's scheduled to be baptized in less than two weeks and we still had a lot to teach! But she rescheduled for Saturday and we caught back up. All is well now. :) I'm getting kinda nervous about her baptism though... It's scheduled for December 6th. I don't really know what to do! It's my first one! I don't know what we're expected to do and plan, so hopefully it all works out okay. J. in the care center is also preparing for baptism! She's scheduled to be baptized on December 20, and told us this week that each time we visit she feels more and more sure of her decision. I think she'll be solid. :) Her baptism will be a little different though, since she's hospitalized. We have to reserve a therapy pool that has a ramp for her baptism so that we can roll the wheelchair in. I have no idea how that one's going to work either... but it'll be good!
Anyway, this report is lengthy enough! Have some pictures! The first two are from our temple trip last Monday. The third is a picture of my poor companion trying to use a fork the way that Americans do. (She usually turns it over and puts food on the back of it like the English do!)
I'm halfway through my third transfer here. That's crazy! Time seems to fly by sometimes. :) Thank you all for your love, letters, and prayers!
Happy Thanksgiving friends!