Monday, October 27, 2014

Greetings from the front lines!

I. Love. My. Mission.

But really, I am loving this so far. It started out with leaving the mission home with my companions, Sister Pendleton and Sister Stucki. They are dolls. Love them. They are so loving, patient with my torrent of questions, and we all have so much fun together. We have only been together for six days now, but I already feel so much a part of the team. I am so glad I got them.
Sister Crawford, Sister Pendleton and Sister Stucki
My district is so fantastic. They are just awesome. They are including me so much and are showing me so much love. They are a blast to hang out with and are rocking this teaching lessons thing. I am so lucky to be a part of this district.
Haha, so my branch I serve in... I love them. They are insane but I love them. They are all on different levels of communication skill; some cannot sign a single sign, and others are pro at ASL, while others are good at using Mexican sign language (MSL), and you also have those who sign SEE (where you sign everything as if it had same grammar as English and has very literal signs), and then you get some who sign a mixture of EVERYTHING and it is crazy. So basically I need to learn a few versions of sign language while I am here. I am actually super excited about that.

A highlight of some of my favorite people I have met so far:

Monica. Oh Monica. What a sweetheart! She was baptized the Sunday before I got here. When we went over to visit her, she just blew me over with her awesome testimony and sweet spirit. She is so level headed and still has so much fun loving others. I can tell she has been through a lot in her life. A lot, meaning abuse, and getting kicked out of the house for no reason, and probably more. But she does not even let any of that keep her back from learning about the gospel and loving others. She is such an example to me.

Veronica is quite possibly my favorite. Yes, I have favorites. She used to not know any sign language whatsoever before a couple of sister missionaries started teaching her. Now she is about half educated in it, has been baptized for about a year, and has the biggest heart of anyone I know. She is expert at sewing. Apparently, she looked at a car seat cover, then turned back to her sewing machine and whipped one out exactly like the first. She teaches the blue box class at church (blue box means the same thing as gesture. It describes people who do not know any, or very very little, sign language.) and is so wonderful at it. We go over to her place to help her prepare for it. Yesterday, at church, blue box class was awesome. We had a lesson on King Benjamin and why it is important to face the temple and always go back. We made a tent out of chairs and a sheet and we acted out, coming out of the tent, seeing the picture of the temple, and going to the temple. It was adorable. Sister Pendleton and I were beside ourselves with love and laughter with the other people in the class. Veronica is the greatest.

Juana is such an adorable, lovely woman. She is completely blue box, but that does not keep her back from loving every person she meets. She is absolutely one of the most loving people I have met here. She considers herself the mom-like figure for all the sister missionaries and remembers each and every one that she has met since she first started to learn about the gospel.
Earthquake!  (2.8 on the Richter Scale)
So I see you all have seen that I had an earthquake the other day. You spoiled my surprise! But guess what! I have now had three! I had two that day (last....Thursday?) and one this morning while we were studying. I love it. So. Much. The only annoying thing is that each time they happen, I feel it, but I don't stop to think about it because it just feels like someone slammed a door down the hall. My companions tell me I have to stop praying for earthquake experiences because they don't want anymore and apparently they almost never had any until I got here. Hahahahaa :) :) 

Fun fact: We actually now cover FOUR missions!! Yay! We cover all of Anaheim, Irvine, Arcadia, and Long Beach. Oh yes. We are awesome. And because we cover so much, we are the only mission in the world with this much freedom. We are allowed outside our mission. Some people are allowed outside too, but not to this extent. We are so special, I love it.

One last thing, the lesson I expect this mission will teach me the most is patience. And good thing too, because that's what I need to learn most. With maybe two or three exceptions, everyone in our branch and that we teach are on welfare. They don't have jobs because they will lose welfare and their job would pay them less than welfare pays them. And on top of that, many members and investigators are only such because they want welfare from the church. This bugs me. But, I love every one of them, and I can see the light of Christ in each one of them. Even if they are in this for the wrong reason, they are still a part of this gospel and will eventually see how the gospel blesses them far more than welfare helps them.

I love you all and pray for all of you every day!

Love love love, 
Sister Smyly Crawford

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