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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

We Went To The Zoo

In The Pouring Rain
And Had A Blast

Ashley Irwin
Feb 16 at 4:04 PM


WE WENT TO THE ZOO!  It was... Shall we say... An interesting experience?  You see, when we finished planning that morning, we got two voicemails from the zone leaders.  One said that we didn't have to wear "Proselyting  Clothes"!  Yay!  We got to wear... JEANS!  The second voicemail was Elder Morrow doing his impression of a weatherman.  He said, "Elders and Sisters today we are expecting a slight chance of precipitation overhead, hope to still see you there!"  But there was no way rain was going to stop us!  It didn't start raining though, until we headed into Gastonia to meet up with Sister M and Sister T to ride up there.  We also had to take our car in that day to Firestone while we were at the zoo to get a leak checked out.  I thought it was brake fluid, one member thought it was power steering, one member thought radiation, and one member thought oil.  So we just brought it in to find out for sure.  So once we headed into Gastonia, it started POURING!  We couldn't see ten feet in front of us!  But we made it safely.  Then the sisters picked us up from there and we were on our way.  It was a total party!  Sister M is always a good time!  On the way, we were looking for a place to eat, so she screamed, "SISTERS!  BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR CHICK-FIL-A!" over the blasting gospel music!  Once we found one, she barreled across the highway, we spent ten minutes looking for the actual building, stopped to inhale our food and keep heading to the zoo! 

Now, when I say zoo, it was really more of a ranch.  But it was the closest thing within our boundaries and they had giraffes and zebras.  So I'm counting it!  We got there and it was still down pouring.  We went in the gift shop and we all decided that it would be more fun to pay the ten dollars each for the hay ride than to try to see which animals would come out in the rain.  SO WORTH IT!  We saw Emus, Ostriches, Buffalo, Bison, tons of Llamas, Deer (My favorite because they had baby deer), Giraffes, and Zebras.  I am probably missing a couple, but you get the picture.  :)  The entire time we were on the wagon, we were allowed to feed all the animals but the zebras and these weird cow things with mega horns!  I'll show you a picture.  But because we were allowed to feed them, they would not stop following us the entire time!  We felt like Noah in the Ark the way they would follow us!  After the hay ride, we went to see a couple of animals like the wallabies and such, took a zone picture, and had to head home.  (The wagon ride takes about two hours).  So we headed back, smelling AWFUL!  It was like animal feed, wet fur, and slobber all mixed into one smell.  Rank, rank I tell you!  Haha  But as we got back into Gastonia, we had the sisters drop us off at Firestone and leave.  Well, since I am the "experienced" one with cars in the companionship, (thank you dad), I got the task of figuring out what to do about the car.  But, when we talked to the manager, he said it was a good thing that we had our car towed into the shop because it was leaking engine oil and if they started the car without this part they had to order, it was going to explode.  Guess the drive from Shelby that morning wasn't the BEST idea ever... But I wasn't going to tell them that.  Our vehicle coordinator called and asked if we did have it towed and started to get irritated because we hadn't asked permission to tow it.  When I told him we had actually drove it in he said, "Whoops.  Don't tell them that!"  And he started laughing and wished us luck on getting home.  So there we were.  Stranded an hour from Shelby.  We called the sisters, had them take us to the church, and we got a ride home from the P's when they offered to come get us.  Eventful day... Right?  The sisters said we should have just stayed at their house and slept over for zone meeting in the morning, but Sister Buckner said no.  :(


We had zone meeting this day.  It was absolutely amazing!  We had an amazing training given by a member of the Gastonia ward.  Brother B trained on how to more involve members in missionary work.  He is also really into psychology.  So he went around and "read our body language and speech" as we were role playing.  That was a little weird.  But he is really cool, so I didn't mind it.  We had an amazing rendition of If You Could Hie to Kolob by Sister T.  Then, we were going to have a training on using Facebook in the work, but it was going to ruin the spirit in the room.  So the STL's did their training, and we had departing testimonies from the missionaries going home.  Talk about spiritual!  Elder S and Sister M made me cry the most.  I probably sat there for a straight ten minutes and just cried.  Then, after the meeting was over, I went to congratulate and say goodbye to Elder S.  He then proceeded to make me cry again.  Unintentionally of course!  I am just a big sap when it comes to missionaries going home!  If I could simply just tell you how much I enjoy zone meetings!  (Apart from role playing of course, that's awful!)  But the spirit you feel and the things you learn are indescribable.  And I do take lots and lots of notes! After zone meeting, we ended up waiting for a baptismal interview to be done, going to lunch and an appointment with the Gastonia sisters!  By the way, I really LOVE hibachi grills!  Mmmmmm!  The appointment was good, we were teaching one of their new converts about family history and temple work!  So very appropriate for what my talk was on this week.  Then we hurried to go pick up the car so we could get to our dinner appointment.  Then we basically planned and made up for the time we lost.


Unfortunately, this was one of those days where we didn't have any solid lessons scheduled or they had fallen through.  So we planned to help a ward member chop some wood for he and his wife so they could stay warm this upcoming week.  They find it pointless to pay for heat and air conditioning for some reason... Lol.  But since I had chopped wood before, (again, thank you dad), I let Sister B go first.  We had to first chop a piece of wood by hand for "experience".  It took her about 50 swings to finally get it.  But it was pretty good for her first time chopping wood with an ax.  Then it was my turn.  It took me all of 5 swings to chop it.  He gave me oak, which is harder to split.  I was a little rusty, but I split it nonetheless.  ;)  Then we got to split the rest of the truck load of wood with the wood splitter.  That thing is AMAZING!  If we had a wood fireplace, I would tell you to invest in one!  All you have to do is set the wood on there and guide a lever forward.  It’s trying work! ;)  It took us about 45 minutes to split all of it for him.  It was really fun!  But I think the most fulfilling part of the entire thing was when he wife said, "Girls, you have no idea how much that means to me.  Our room was 53 degrees last night, and that wasn't even with the storm warning.  We are actually going to be warm next week.  Thank you so much!"  It's little things like this that make me appreciate more and more the work I am doing for my brothers and sisters, the Lord's children.  It is not only about serving those outside of the church, but strengthening those already in it as well.


I'm not going to lie to you guys.  The spiritual side of things this week really didn't start picking up until Friday through Sunday.  So I will tell you about a funny lesson we had instead.  We knocked on this door in Patterson Springs and before we could even out our hand forward to knock, this girl opened the door and her giant dog came barreling out.  This would have been fine if the dog didn’t looked like it wanted to kill me.  All she said was,"I'm glad you're here.  I needed someone to talk to.  Don't mind the dog.  He won't hurt you.  Come in."  I have never been so hesitant in my entire life.  She said that she was sorry about the smell, but they raise 6 dogs, two rats, tons of fish, and she is a lizard breeder.  She then proceeded to tell us how one of the two rats they had to shoot because it ate three of her lizards and bit off one of the geckos tails.  Then she showed us the geckos tail growing back.  Gross!  I never want lizards or rats.  Ugh!  She invited us into her room to look at the decor which consisted of, how do I say this, band posters who thrive on singing about death, misery, and destruction.  Tons of fun!  :/  She told us to go back into the front room and she would wake up her mother who is a minister, and we could all talk.  Basically, the actual lesson wasn't bad.  She just sat there and judgmentally stared at us.  Meanwhile, her 16-year old kept asking us if she was going to heaven or hell.  We shared the whole restoration and planned to go back last night and read the Book of Mormon with them, but they didn't answer the door.  Oh the experiences you have on a mission.


This day, there were two really amazing things that happened.  A couple of weeks ago, we had this bible referral that we had dropped because we had tried multiple times to get ahold of her with no success.  And the number she had was disconnected.  But, the other night, while we were looking for another former investigator, we noticed a car at her house.  So we decided to knock on the door to see if she was home.  She answered and we set up a return appointment for Friday.  So when we got there to give her the bible, we were determined to teach her about the restoration as well.  We taught a very basic restoration lesson because she had a few questions.  But she said, "I am so thankful you girls were able to come over today.  I have been looking to get closer to Christ since I was saved last year, and my church that I'm going to doesn't seem to be preaching the truth all the time."  She agreed to come to church with is, though she never actually showed up.  Then, we headed toward Mooresboro because that's where our dinner appointment was.  Two things came from that:

1.       On Thursday night, we went to dunkin' donuts because sister b wanted some really badly.  When we left, we saw this car covered in storm troopers and Mickey Mouse heads because they had run the Disney triathalon.  We thought nothing of it and left.  But when we were in Mooresboro, we saw the same car at a neighbor's house of a less-active!  So we are going to see if we can go teach them soon, instead of just asking if they know their neighbors like we did the first time.  If they let us teach them and they end up getting baptized, I am going to use the hashtag - #dunkindonutstodunkinfamilies!  Isn't that funny??

2.  We were in Mooresboro, and we got lost.  Surprise, surprise!  So we went to a members store a few miles back to get wifi.  When we got there, they said that we should go visit their daughter.  Funny enough, we planned the night before to go see her that day.  There was an incident and her ten year old got in serious trouble.  So we stopped by to visit her.  She looked at me and started crying.  She asked, "How do y'all always know where to go at the right time?"  I told her that we go where the spirit guides us to go.  This was a true testimony builder that if you show faith to the Lord, he will place you in the paths of those of his children that you need to be.


This day, we were able to go see a man that we met last Sunday.  We met him on his porch while we were walking down the street.  We were able to teach him the restoration and set up a time to come back on Saturday.  When we came back, he told us that he was having a really hard time accepting the fact that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet and that he could receive revelation.  So what we did was, we read the Book of Mormon Introduction with him.  Nothing to out of the ordinary, but as we read it, he said it was too much to take in.  I pulled up Mosiah 10:3-5 and read it to him.  I invited him to read from the Book of Mormon and pray to know about its truth and the truth of our message.  He suddenly calmed down a bit and he said, "Well since y'all took the time out of your day to come explain this to me, I will give it a shot."  The thing that was different is, it was nothing that I hadn't said in a lesson before, but you could sense the love of God for him through me.  I felt it so strongly.  Our Heavenly Father was trying to reach out to him!  I was just his temporary mouthpiece!  It was amazing you guys, really.  I couldn't have been happier that I was so willing to open my mouth and proclaim the truth of our everlasting gospel!

I gave my talk this day!  Mom - I really appreciated your copy of your talk because I stole all of the stories from it.  I basically just changed the perspective of the stories and added a few paragraphs and testimonies of my own and took out some of yours.  It went REALLY well.  I had two people ask me for copies of my talk because they "couldn't take notes fast enough."  I also had the bishop, his wife, and loads of other members tell me it was the best talk they've ever heard on family history!  So thank you so much for the help!  I didn't end up having the time I thought I would to write it... Silly me!  But I had three members say that my talk made them so excited for family history, that they couldn't even wait until I was done.  They were using the church wifi on their cell phones to sign up for and use family search!  One of them found their four generations DURING SACRAMENT MEETING!  And one of them got on and found where their grandmother was born, and they had been looking for a long time!  I also had the assistant family history consultant ask if we would come talk to the family history committee of the city of Shelby once he gets some more credibility down there!  Isn't that great??

The other great thing that happened this day was... OUR INVESTIGATORS WERE ABLE TO GET OVER THEIR WORD OF WISDOM ADDICTIONS IN ORDER TO BE BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY!  That's right!  I have two baptisms set in stone for Saturday!  They are so happy.  The amazing thing is, that the bishop was able to get out of them something they hadn't shared with us.  He asked them how long they had been looking for a religion.  She replied, "Oh, probably 20 years.  See, we had been going to a Church of God.  When we were in a hard spot, we asked the preacher for counseling, and he said he wouldn't do it.  We got to the point where I was praying every night because we couldn't do it anymore.  We couldn't do it on our own.  Then these two lovely ladies showed up at our door."  20 YEARS!  I was almost to the point of tears when I realized that I was the answer to that prayer.  Missionary work is the greatest!  God called me to Shelby for them specifically, and I am so grateful for that!  And they are ready to start family history and attend the temple after their baptism.  And they are looking forward to maybe being able to go to the temple with us when I come back if it will work out.  So we'll see.

Apparently, all the missionaries are going to be giving their iPads back to the mission in March and we are all getting new ones to use.  So I'm just wondering how much they had you pay for them.  I want to see if I can buy it off of you... ;)  So let me know!

As for the Vitamins, I am going to find out if I am getting transferred or not on Tuesday (tomorrow).  So just hold the order and any other mail until I can let you know after transfers on Monday.  Okay?  Oh!  Speaking of which, I think if I am getting transferred, I am going to be able to send a package home before the end of the week.  But I have a question, I want to keep things like the drum sticks you sent me for Christmas, but there may not be room for them.  So what kind of things am I allowed to send home and not allowed to.

Speaking of packages though, I am OBSESSED with my Valentine's Day package!  Thank you sooooo much!  Dad - I got the cinnamon lips finished in like three days and they were delicious.  Beth - I am savoring the chocolate!  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!  But, I would have to say, my favorite (non-food related) thing was the two frogs!  Who am I supposed to give the other one to?  And was there a purpose behind the FROG?  ;)  lol

Tell grandma happy birthday for me!  Sad that I am missing it, but tell her I am sending her hugs and kisses from North Carolina. And no!  I can't believe how fast time is flying!  It's insane!  You'll have tons of fun at Elder Standefer's homecoming!  You'll have to tell me if you hear him say anything about Pilot Mountain, or Y.O.S.O. (You Only Serve Once)!

And basketball sounds super fun this year!  I wish they had thought of themes when I went to play with the young women's!  That would have made it so much more fun!  And I am also glad that they get to go to a scout camp for girls camp this year.  That was by far my favorite year of girls camp!  Far too many memories from that year!

Thank you for the idea for the genealogy night!  I'll keep it in mind if I do indeed stay in Shelby.  My thoughts on transfers, they are definitely closing the Gastonia area for sisters, which I am sad about.  But we think they might transfer Elder P and Elder C.  My personal thought is they might close Shelby for Sisters as well because we are losing so many sisters in the mission!  This transfer alone, we are losing 17 sisters and only 9 are coming out.  Then, we are losing 14 elders and only 8 are coming out.  So I think that one of us will be transferred, they'll close the area to sisters, or they'll keep us both here.  (Which I honestly don't think is very likely).  But I'll let you know on Monday what happens!  I probably won't be able to let you know before then, but like I said, please hold the vitamins and any other packages or letters until Monday when I let you know for sure!  Because, mail is going to be even slower getting here because of the weather. 

Speaking of weather, THIS IS INSANE!  I have never seen anything like it!  We are having blizzard warnings left and right!  Now, the actual snow is not the thing I am concerned about, considering where I grew up.  The thing that concerns me is the 1-digit temperatures and the rain and snow instantly turning to ice.  It took us 5 minutes to start our car to get to Walmart when we came home from Gastonia today, and when we got to Walmart, all the eggs, milk, and flour were gone.  Stores are shutting down, and people are going into hibernation.  Literally.  I think it's funny!  I'll let you know more next week as it continues!

The outlets in Gastonia were great!  I got some new bracelets.  So I'm excited!  I wanted a lot more, but I have no room first of all, and second, I can't wear the stuff I wanted while I'm out here anyway.  Practically everyone in our district bought either Nike's or Van's... But I had no room or money... So ya know.

I did hear Jessica and Robbie had their baby!  He is so cute and I am so excited for them!  Thank you so much for all the pictures!  I love them!  Finally I get to SEE how y'all are doing!  Haha JK

Next week, I'll let you know about the baptisms, transfers, weather, etc.  But until then, LOVE YOU SO MUCH AND HOPE YOU ARE ALL HAVING SO MUCH FUN!

Hugs and Kisses from NC!


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