Monday, March 28, 2016

23 feet of love‏

This weekend we had a very unique opportunity to go to our neighboring area, Robert!

So to clear up something kind of confusing right at the beginning....
The Covington mission area is the Covington Ward Boundries. Okay?
The Covington mission area is in the Denham Springs Missionary ZONE. okay? 
So when we go to zone meetings with missionaries and have zone specific instructions, we look at the Denham zone. 
The Covington ward is in the NOLA stake. (New Orleans, LouisiAna) Okay? So when we go to Stake Conference we go to New Orleans and we know all the NOLA stake members and presidency.  

So. Recap. 
We know all the Denham Springs missionaries and we know all the NOLA members. Cool. 

The town of Robert got hit even worse than Covington did. 
So a bunch of people from our ward and from both the Denham stake and NOLA stake came and helped mucking out house and working together with a Christian program that helps with natural disasters called Operation Blessings. We were able to go because Robert is very close to Covington and some of the Denham missionaries were called in to help and the NOLA stake was called to help! It was an amazing experience and it was really fun to get to know some of the Denham members and serve with the NOLA members more. 

Our experience with the Robert service day:
Everyone helping for the day gathered together early Saturday morning. We split into groups to go conquer some devastation. 
Sister Stevenson and I were in a group with one of the best families the Conlins, who gave us a ride, and then some members from the NOLA stake. 
We went to a home with a TON of work to do. 

The home we went to was up a tiny hill from a creek. far enough away that I didn't see it. 
But this creek flooded 23 feet. 
yes. 23 FEET. 
This home was underwater all the way up to the attic. 
This is crazy serious business.

So this home had already been cleaned out in the way that everything in the home was out. By any means necessary. 
That means that everything that was inside was shoved out of the broken windows and our job was to bag it in trash bags and throw it in a big truck and then when the truck got full we go ride down a half mile dirt road to go unload it on the side of the road so the bigger trucks can come pick it up then we ride back and continue. 

It was a lot of hard work. Emotionally and physically. 

The owner of the home was a lady named Theresa. 
She is a religion that doesn't believe in wearing pants. 
Same fam. 

We probably went through a billion black trash bags, no exaggeration. 
We tossed and bagged window frames, Christmas decorations, sheet rock, clothes, couches, insulation, mattresses, bed frames, books, photo albums, letters, dressers, bureaus, mirrors, bibles, planners, calendars, pictures, picture frames, stuffed animals, and so much stuff that I cant even remember. So. Much. Stuff. 

It was a hard business but we whistled while we worked and talked and laughed and talked about the gospel and talked with Theresa about life. 

There was an extremely tender moment where we had been on the look out for a unicorn chest on an assignment from Theresa because it was her wedding box. We found it in the center of the debris upside down. 
As we excavated out the box it became a holy place as everyone went silent as we pulled it out and she assessed the damage. We didn't know how she would react but with our previous relationship formed with her, there was the spirit of love and unconditional support ready to lift her up.
Our pile of bads and trash. it doesn't looklike too much but lemme tell you. it was 8 hours of work with 3 couches and a couple mattresses and dressers in there.

I have a testimony about serving happily. 
This is how we support others in their trials. 
Sharing our happiness and our light with others. 
Understanding the seriousness and the gravity of the situation but making it a positive, happy experience. 
Having compassion and comfort but also helping lift the heart with love and laughter. 

"The best compliment you can give someone is listening." - Raymond from Operation Blessings

I love my mission and I am so grateful for this area right now that I am able to serve people on a level I have never reached before. 
Women's Conference was inspired to teach me how to serve with more love and heart.

I can wait for conference this week to help me to make goals to be an even better missionary!
I loved hearing about yalls coming home experiences. so fun. 
Missed yall extra this week but know that the work is true. 
I lava yall!!
Sister Sades

Monday, March 21, 2016

We wore jeans all week‏

I would just like to throw something out here right at the beginning.

Sister Stevenson and I have done zero real missionary work this week. 
We wore jeans all week. 

We did alot of math for this week. This is what we figured out. 
Your average LBR training missionary (aka us) in a single week has a total of 
56 sleeping hours
112 awake hours
20 hours of studying
7 hours of planning
14 hours of lunch and dinner breaks (minimum) - we try really really hard to make it an hour but, lets be honest, in the south where we eat and talk ALOT, no matter how hard you try, most of them go over
42 working hours (aka going out having appointments, finding, teaching, traveling time... everything a missionary has to do)
So if you take in the lost minutes (repentance is real), the travel time (especially in our area - lots of traffic and far away places. It takes 30 minutes to drive to Mandeville), meetings with missionaries and the ward, and the accidental extra time on dinners with members... I would say our total working hours would be about... 34 hours. give or take. 

So that's a lot of math. 
But all of those things are extremely important to a missionary.
Sleeping hours: of course is important because you are so done every day at 10:30 you just pass out. Need that 8 hours.
Awake hours: When we should be constantly doing something with the Lords time, every second of everyday. (I'm still working on this one. Its the hardest.)
Studying hours: personal study- where we study and make plans for our investigators. Companion study- where we sing, read from the handbook and PMG and recite scriptures, then make lesson plans together for our investigators or do an activity from PMG. 
& for Training missionaries we have 12 Week! - Additional Comp study where we watch The District and have more mission training and role playing to be better missionaries faster.
Planning hours: half hour at the end of each day where we prayerfully plan for the next day. What we will do, who we will see, what we will teach, as well as update our records for the people we saw and taught today. Also we Weekly Plan on Thursdays for several hours and plan what we will do for the next week. 
Eating hours: OH GOSH SO GOOD. Where we will for lunch make something quick and take a nap or talk or literally chill out or we go out to eat if its a Mandville day. and for dinner hopefully someone signed up to feed us and we will have a huge, delicious, giant, good conversating, largest meal ever. Then before we leave we share a too-short message because we took too long on dinner and we are over an hour. 
Working hours: the 34 hours of pure missionary-ness. 
Talking to people, tracting, doing service in thrift stores or food banks, calling, teaching the lessons you planned and prepared for, getting cancelled on, using back up plans, having the funny moments and stressful moments, disappointing and exciting moments.

the essence of a missionary.

How does this relate to us this week?
Sleeping hours: normal we have about 45 minutes to ourselves from 9:45-10:30 to do what we want... We would usually talk, write letters, play ukulele, write in journal, etc.. 
This week we were in bed an asleep by 10. every. day. We were so exhausted. (doesn't seem like a big deal. but its a big deal when you have no free time and you spend it sleeping)
Awake hours: we were busy every second of the day serving others.
Studying hours: We were able to study for a message that would bring one of hope and peace and comfort to those we met and #hallelujah Easter initiative works great. Also since we weren't teaching lessons we were actually able to study for ourselves. 
Planning hours: Our plans were almost the same everyday. wake up. study. service. eat. find people. service. eat. study. sleep. 
And it hasn't gotten boring.
Eating hours: I think I ate so much this week and was still always hungry because we worked so much this week.
Working hours: We had 23 hours of service this week. 

The other 10 hours we spent knocking on doors of the neighborhoods that were devastatingly affected by the floods. We wore our yellow shirts and jeans and were representatives of Jesus Christ and the Mormon Helping Hands. It was a great responsibility. 

Setting up for the crews.
the necessities:
box cutter/razor things
Cleaning supply buckets
food boxes

Proud to Wear Yellow

23 hours of tossing furniture/carpet/belongings onto an ever growing pile of trash accumulating on the sides of the road, hammering apart sheet rock and drywall, taking out doors and cabinets, taking a crowbar to lament and wood floors, helping pack away decorations and belongings, helping go through things to decide what was salvageable or trash, comforting those without flood insurance and praising God with those who did, crying with people, praying with people, and being a support to those who lost so much.

This flood was pretty devastating and traumatizing for people not because of the damage but because it was unheard of in this area. It is a straight flashback to Katrina! Many were not in a flood zone and didn't have insurance. One lady is sleeping in her shed in her backyard. Another just finished her first round of chemotherapy for breast cancer and cant even cook for herself right now. The devastation is real.

But our message, especially an Easter message of #hallelujah and the Atonement is also very real. 
He knows what we are going through! He's done it. 
He knows what this feels like! He's felt it.
He can help us! He can lift us!
If we let Him. If we love Him.

I'm so grateful to wear the yellow shirt this week and to just straight up serve.
I'm so grateful to have the blessings that I have.
I'm so grateful for the protection and missionary promises.
I'm so grateful to be able to help others in a way I never have before. both physically and spiritually. 
I'm eternally grateful for my Savior and for how He can lift the hurt that we feel if we give it up to Him. #hallelujah 

Live life and see good days :)
Happy Easter. #hallelujah
Sister Sades

Monday, March 14, 2016

hitting close to home‏

So yet again our missionary promise and blessings are even more evident this week.

This week has been extreeeemely long. It has been a long waiting game of anticipation. 

It all started last Sunday when we were tracting in Tallow Creek and on our favorite less active friends who lets us park our car by her house was weeding when we were getting ready to leave. She was telling us that she was getting stuff done today to prepare for this week because the news says its going to rain Wednesday-Saturday so we were in for a big storm. 
Greeeaaaaaaat. Now remember that we are just coming off of the tornado experience so we were ready for a couple weeks break before we gear up again.

So the waiting game started. 

For the next 3 days, (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) every. single. person. we talked to told us to be careful in the upcoming days because the weather was going to get really bad. 

Can I pause for a second and tell you about the Southern people for a second?
So young adult girls are protected more than life itself sometimes. If we are knocking doors at dark or even dusk even if its only 6:30 in the evening, we will get... I don't want to say chastised or scolded but definitely a concerned talking to that goes something like this. "Now what on earth are two pretty young ladies like yourselves doing out this late at night, coming up to strange people's doors. (not even a question) Now yall should not be out this late especially in the dark. (its only 6:00pm) Have you seen the state the world is in these days. (still not a question, sometimes they will continue on this for a while) Now you gals are about the age of my daughters. Yall better get home and watch out in the next couple days. Weathers gonna get real bad. Rain and thunderstorms. Now you get home now. Yall shouldn't be out here!"
Its wonderful to be cared about so. so. so. much. 
No but really. Its awesome. :) they're sweet and sometimes its a good conversation starter of why we are out here. 

Monday- Wednesday were really awful, extremely gloomy and windy days. like blow your skirt away windy. That was funny some days. But very overcast, grey, never see the sun, so humid that its just clammy and warm. You knew there was a storm coming.

Finally the long awaited days of the storm arrived.
We were expecting something very similar to last time with extremely heavy rain, pounding our roof in and being locked in for days at a time since is was going to be several days. 

Thursday comes and its a gross day, overcast, grey, just sprinkling all day. Quite disappointing.
Then finally around 3ish it starts raining real hard and we get put on lockdown. It only lasts until 5pm. Alot of rain but really not as much as we were thinking... Life goes on.
That night it still lightning and thundered so loud and so bright all night. I slept well but poor Sis S didn't get a wink :( rough night

Friday is also not very exciting. We never know the weather so we just plan our day like normal and go about our duties. Service, tracting, popping in on people, visiting less actives and investigators. 

We have a lesson Friday night that we were excited about. It was with Rob, a very awesome investigator, and Caelan, a 1 year convert,18 years old, and has the missionary fire. We are teaching one of her friends that we are SO excited about! 
We show up to Caelan's house ready to pick her up and her mom comes and talks to us saying all this weather lingo that goes over our head but we did hear, "...voluntary evacuation...surge coming... 20-30ft wave... 10pm tonight.."


Alls well though we go to our appointment promising to keep her safe and that we will be back within the hour. The lesson goes alright, not as planned but its good. 
Then when we come back we see and hear the real story. 
We saw many police lights blocking roads with signs and detours. The local McDonalds only has the drive through open because they are so close to the water that has flooded Boston Rd. 
Local officials are closing down roads that are flooded already. Northern Louisiana has gotten so much rain and storms that their rain fall will be coming down the rivers that usually flows into the lake but Lake Pontchartrain is very full to start with. There is nowhere for the water to go! There is expected to be a 20-30ft surge(wave) of water coming in around 10-11pm that night that will flood most of Covington. 

Awesome. Lets go home, shall we?

Needless to say we are a bit freaked. 
We call Sister Hansen, our mission presidents wife and stress relief person and tell her what we know. Her and President Hansen reads off a list of streets that are under a voluntary evacuation list. 
The list included 8th Ave.
We live on 9th Ave.  
We live pretty close to the Bogue Falaya River. Only pretty close though. Like its on 1st Ave and we're on 9th.
But we made the executive decision to stay and park our car on a bit higher ground and pray. 

We go to bed that night not knowing anything about what was to come in the next few hours but it was quite a stress ridden night. 

We wake up the next day and blissfully enough nothing happened! Not even a lightning! Not even rain! We have trees blocking our view to the left but no water in our front yard or neighbors to the right!
It was quite anticlimactic let me tell you. 

So we do our morning routine and finish our studies and lunch and finally its time to go out around noon. We leave our apartment in our car and the moment we past those trees we see water. Everywhere. 
We live on 9th and Monroe and this is 10th and Madison. 2 blocks away
Our neighbors to the right and all the houses on the next several blocks over have water all in their yard. not in the house yet but flooded yards. We continue to where we are going to service but its closed because it is in a flooded area as well. 

Trying to get into our neighborhood. This is 8th Ave and Tyler. If you look where the water stops and turn left and go down the street just a little bit... thats our apartment. 

Just past that stop sign is Robs house. The stop sign is 8th and Jefferson

Our first thought is Rob. He lives down the road closer to the Bogue Falaya. We hurry back home and get on our bikes to hurry over to Rob check out more damage in our immediate neighborhood, see what we can do to help and talk to people. 

Standing outside Robs house looking at the road
As the day went on, as we kept talking and making the rounds the water kept rising and rising. it rose probably over a foot maybe 2 while we were out. The road to our apartment flooded.
Sections of roads are completely flooded, the dips in the road. The Bogue Falaya is overflowing. People homes have sandbags trying to keep the water out. All of this destruction within less than a mile of our own apartment. The damage is endless. 
Anyone who lived by the Bogue Falaya river, Abita river, and the Tchefuncte river were flooded.

Trying to get to something....not us!
(gross don't ever do this. the sewer is backed up in this water. and snakes. and disease.)

We keep getting 'Are yall okay?' texts and hearing about homes and neighborhoods that have feet of water in them, and members of our ward that got flooded. 
Seeing good days biking around the floods!!
The road to the church was completely washed out! There is a 6 foot drop of the asphalt gone from the road! The Church was fine but the neighborhood it is in was flooded baaaad. With all the damage to the church neighborhood, church was cancelled on Sunday! First time in my life!
Sunday was spent visiting others and doing service for our favorite less active family, the Nolans, where we eat at every Wednesday night. They got a foot of water and our ward joined together to help out. I'm so grateful for the relationship we have with them to make this hard time easier. 
Cleaning up the Nolans on Sunday

These next couple days will be filled with clean up and service with our classic yellow Mormon Helping Hands shirts on. 
This flood really hit close to home and was shocking to hear everyone talk about it. This bad of a flood is historic for Covington and no one can remember the last time a flood this bad has hit Covington. That means this was real bad. 60, 70, 80 years+ bad.

But I am again reminded of the promise of safety missionaries have. 
The love our Heavenly Father has for us is so real!
I know that we were protected because we should have had damage or at least more water than we should have. The floods did not even touch our yard.Our ditches were full, yes but our yard was very dry. We didn't even loose power once. We were protected as well as the Elders in our area.
I'm grateful to be here so I can help the best I can!
Satan is so real and tries to bring us down (as Sister Stevenson likes to say "Satan controls the weather!") but with God all things are possible. Through Christ all things can heal and be made alive! I'm so grateful for this time to be the Lord's servant and to serve with all my might right now! I know people have been prepared for us this moment to go and talk to them and just help and love them. 

I'm so excited to go to work this week and do all the Heavenly Father has planned for us! 
I love yall so much and I'm grateful for all the prayers!
My mind was in two places this week with all the floods and work but also at home with yall this week with the special occasion :) I wouldn't have it another way though!
I'm so happy happy happyyyyy for the new baby in the fam and all the pictures. Welcome Lukeypoooo and I can't wait to meet him :) 
yay yay yay! I love yall so so much! Yall are the best!
Miss ya bunches. 
Live life and see good days :)
Safe Sister Sades

So crazy story. One of the majorly flooded areas is a neighborhood called Tallow Creek. Its a couple miles from our apartment and my favorite place to go tracting because its where the closest members to us live and its so safe and a great community feel to it. The last couple weeks Sister Stevenson and I have tracted this neighborhood so so much and its been great! We love it! Houses close together, nice people, everybodys outside, best place for a missionary ever.
As I was researching the damage and going through pictures of the bad flooding I found this. 

This is the Tallow Creek neighborhood and this is a family that we tracted into that was so kind and adorable. This crying little boy was the cutest little kid we ever met and he loved to talk to us and ask us a billion questions about our name tags and scriptures we were holding and just so friendly with the cutest, heartmelting smile. We made plans to come back. 
Its so crazy how close this flood was to home. The National Guard was in our neighborhood. In homes only minutes away from ours. People that we talked to last week now have their lives flipped upside down and trying to put things back together. Its never been so close before.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Its been a poopy week‏

**Readers disgression advised**

Thats about it. 
Its been a very poopy week. 
Just like it says.

I didn't take any pictures this week because it wasn't very eventful and the events that are worth writing about..........
Yall don't want pictures. 
You're welcome.
I will try to sensor it as best I can.

So we did a lot of finding this week, aka braving the awkward barrier and contacting alot of people who don't really want to talk to us and also knocking doors. Many empty ones that got lots of pictures of the Jesus and SLC and Laie temple stuck in them. 
But we have a really good time tracting :)

This week was fun because I got my most creative rejection to date from knocking house!

So we tracting down this BEAUTIFUL street next to the lakefront. (who says you can't tract and walk next to the lake at the same time?) Its my favorite place. 
Anyways. We were knocking doors and a quite elderly woman with a walker answers the door. We say some quick pleasantries and start in on our attention-getter spiel. 
But she stops us with this line. 
US: "...local sister missionaries and we-"
Her: "Uh oh. I have a problem."
Us: "-oh. okay. Whats that?"
Her: "I have diarrhea and I really have to go. Right now."
Us: "Um. Wow. yes please go. Mmkay bye."

Can I get a trophy for the quickest way to get someone off your front porch award? 
No but really. I believe her. And I really appreciated that shut down.
But we just laughed and laughed about it and kept going. 

--2 days later--
We go to a members house that is very sick with migraines and head issues and also takes care of her extremely elderly mother with Alzheimer's. She was feeling especially bad this week and called and asked us to do some housework for her that she just hasn't gotten to because she doesn't feel good.
OF course we can do that!! We go over there and knock.. 
She opens the door and says "Hold on a minute! I gotta run!"
So we step in as she moves as fast as she can to the back of the house. 
And wow. It smells.... real bad. Can't breathe. 
We look into the house and see there has been an 'accident' on the floor. 

ANYWAY moral of the story, the mother is going downhill and needs to go in a nursing home soon because she is becoming to much to handle. 
And we just happen to walk in on a VERY unfortunate situation that was only talked about 2 days earlier.

It was so gross and awkward we couldn't do much but laugh and have a better appreciation for the lady earlier in the week who turned us away before it got bad. 

Then later in that day, we were driving with our windows down because its always so beautiful here! We are having a good time driving through a neighborhood and the worst, strongest, most putrid smell assaults the inside of our car like a wall. 
We couldn't breathe. We were dying. And laughing so much didn't help having to take big gulps of nasty air. 

We don't know whats going on but we sure hope that Heavenly Father isn't preparing us for something way way wayyyy worse. 
We got the words
and the sight..
and the smell.....
Can we just stop it right there? 
Tune in next week for hopefully nothing more!!

Dang. good times though.
Sister Stevenson and I have good times together :)

But other than that nothing much happened this week! Just normal missionary work with a ton, a ton of tracting and finding. trying not to take things personally and trying not to get too creepy excited when they give us a half yes or a return appointment. Making the best of everyday and loving and learning how to be the missionaries we want to be!

Its a great life :)
God is really good to us. 

I love yall so much and I can barely think straight because I'm so excited for Kort and Dastan!
Good luck with the new baby that will be here SOON! 
I'm so happy for yalllll :)))))))
I love you so much!
Sister sades