So I'm in Laveen, Arizona!!! And it's AWESOME and I love it and I could very well be living here someday, it's that awesome.
My companion is Sister Nelson. She's awesome and I'm super grateful for her. C: She's just one transfer "older" than me, which worried both of us originally, but it's worked out well so far and it's nice no longer being a greenie (or at least not super green). It is a little odd to not be with a companion who has been through ten others and have gotten suuuuuuuuuper unusually Ent-like patient, so this is actually really fun and exciting. We rub each other's rough edges off, and that's really fun to watch! I'll have to send pictures soon, we have a lot of fun together C:
Speaking of fun, we got to experience a habuub, which is like Hildago/The Mummy style dust storms. THey're massive and fast and I took a million pictures....it was really fun to watch it press against the mountains, build, and then just spill over and roll towards us. Then we were stuck inside a member's home for like an hour watching roof shingles getting torn off and streetlamps being broken and lightning and thundering and it got a little less fun, haha. Adventures can be scary sometimes.
Sister Nelson and her previous companion had been working with two families arlready, and FAMILIES ARE SO MUCH FUN!!! At first it was awkward and a little nerve-racking when one daughter bursts into tears to see Sister Forsen gone, and in the opening prayer the other little girl prays for Sister Forsen to come back.....hahahahahah kids are great. But I hope they've warmed up to me by now. We teach the two teenage girls alone, and they're suuuuper awesome, and we've gotten really close with them. We've been reading the "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet with them, and they absolutely love it. The whole family has been working on cleaning out their movies, music, anything from "the old life." It's so cool to watch. I don't have much time left, but I'll talk more about them later. I'll be talking about them a lot.....I've absolutely fallen in love with them. I wish I could just hang out iwth them and get ice cream or something. Teaching them is amazingly spiritual, though. Just being in their home, you can really feel the spirit and that they all love each other (kids always fight, but you can tell when tehy really do love each other) and that they're all trying to get closer to God as a family. It's so awesome.
The other family, we're teaching two older teenaged girls, Tammy and Talie. They're a joy to teach and watch grow! They're scared of making promises, so getting them to commit to anything is really hard. They've finally just become comfortable with the idea of covenants and being baptized, but one of them said she'll only keep the Word of Wisdom until she's 35. Not because she wants to break it, but just because absolutes worry her. Haha. But one of the huge blessings of being in South Phoenix is that we're not super duper far from the temple. So we were able to go to the Mesa temple with them this week, and we went through the visitor's center and saw the Joseph Smith movie and saw the Jerusalem model of what it would've looked like in Christ's time, and we sat out in the grounds and wrote in our journels, and then we all gathered together in front of the big Christus statue they have there and talked about Christ and God's love.
It was an amazing, amazing experience. And at the end of it, I really felt bad for the people who don't live close enough to temples that they can do this with the missionaries. There are full pages in my journal about the moments I had with those girls by the temple.
I'm running low on time, and I have so much more to say, haha. But I love missions, and I love Arizona, and I love the people here. I'm so grateful for a God who loves all His children, for His miracles that I've seen, and for the chance to see Him at work with these people. There's still nothing I'd rather be doing, and there's still nothing better. I love this work, and I know God lives and the Gospel is true.
I love you all!! C: Thanks for all the prayers and letters and support! You're all amazing!
<3 Sister Stratford