Monday, December 19, 2011

Just call me Rudolf

December 19, 2011 (email)

Merry Christmas Everyone!! I hope you all are having a fantastic week! I said call me Rudolf because I've got this silly zit on the tip of my nose that is making it all red. Thank heavens I'm a missionary, and I don't have to look good for a date. And double thank heavens because I don't even have a camera to take pictures with! Hallelujah!!!!

Well, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MOM AND DAD!!!!!!! Sorry, I don't have a gift, and I won't be making you an ugly cake like when I was a kid. I hope you have a beautiful day! (Either with actual sunshine, or the day looks like the gloomy day you got married, so it makes you all mushy at remembering it, and then the day feels beautiful.)

Here are a couple tid-bits that only a few of you will understand:
1. Sister Kesler knows Mannheim Meets the Mouse!!!!!!! I nearly had a cow when we discovered that! We started singing all over the trailer and dancing too.
2. Our milk carton says best if used by: DEC 25!!!!!! WOOOOTTTTT!!!!! Twice in one lifetime! What a lucky girl I am!!

Now for the week's information.
We usually drive into Farmington once a month....but this week we drove there 4 times in 5 days! Yuck. Monday to pick up our cleaned out and detailed truck. Tuesday to figure out the New Mexico license junk. Thursday to get our new money cards from the office. And on Friday a ward member drove us in for a ward dinner at Golden Corral. Oye. This week we go in again on Thursday for the Christmas Zone Conference.

On Tuesday we went to meet a referral from the sister missionaries in Farmington. The girl's name is Cejay (CJ...ya, weird) and her brother was baptized last summer. She liked the transformation in him and was asking lots of questions. She let us in immediately and was AMAZING!! Her brother had been giving her scriptures to read from the Bible, discussing stories and ideas from the Book of Mormon, given her the movies: Praise to the Man, and the Best Two Years, and was having her read Hinckley's Stand a Little Taller!!!!! Oh, and a Gospel Principles book!!! She was reading it all!!! I have never met someone so prepared! I have been involved with baptisms and people who were prepared, but all of the hard work was done before I got into Shiprock. This is the first person that I will see transform from door to water. It will be amazing. She accepted a "soft" baptismal commitment, which means if she feels its true, she will eventually be baptized. We hope to extend a hard commitment this week, which means picking a day with her! I'm so excited! We are trying to see her everyday, and it is wonderful.

On Wednesday we went to Red Valley and saw Jay. He had completed the pot I had asked him to design, carve, and paint for me. It is absolutely exquisite! I will get a picture of it for you...eventually! He wants me to carry it around wherever I get transferred so I can always remember him, but I'm worried about it getting busted. I might send it home for safe keeping. I just love this guy. We hit a glitch this past week though. We were reading and explaining 1 Nephi 13, and his dream. He got hung up on the blessed people being "white and beautiful" and then that there were imperfections in the Bible. In general the Navajo people seem to struggle with not being worth anything because of their skin. It drives me nuts! I don't see skin color! I just see my brothers and sisters. I just see lost individuals who need love. All he needs is someone who believes in him, who will tell him that he's important, and that his life is not wasted. Oh, I get so fired up when I see people just needing support...I know what they need, and how to give it to them, but I cant physically take care of EVERYONE (as much as I want to!)

On Saturday we were involved in a couple baptisms. There was one for an 8 year old girl who comes from an active family. This ward is weird and has everyone, converts and children of record, go through the missionaries. That's not the way its supposed to work. But I think it comes from a lack of Primary structure, and the culture of the people to expect it is someone else's responsibility to teach their children....Anyways....Rant over and moving on....She was afraid of the water. Deathly afraid. She had 2 panic attacks. Sobbing. Yelling. Screaming at the top of her lungs that she didn't want to get in the water. Her dad was standing in the font, and everyone was waiting, but she just cried. Sister Kesler jumped in and took her hands and walked her to the font. "Just look in my eyes, don't look at the water." Then her dad took over. He held her hands and offered some of the most comforting words I have ever heard a father utter. She was still sobbing and hyperventilating. But they did the baptism. We know she wanted it, because she said she did, and she knew she had to get in the water. She cried that she didn't want to get in, but she never fought back or kicked or anything. She moved of her own choice, just cried otherwise. I was worried someone was going to throw a fit about her being forced into it.....but it happened, and as soon as it was over, she was fine.

Now, as for this next week: we hope it will be good, but there is potential for lots of canceled appointments. The members are all filled with Christmas cheer, and want to feed us, but we want to get in some teaching too. On Sunday, the Christmas program is going to be a pitiful sight to see. Someone volunteered all the missionaries (without even asking us) to BE the program. We are going to be breaking up Luke 2 and each reading little sections. Then between parts, we are being thrown into the "Choir" to sing some hymns. Well....the choir is the 4 of us, and 3 (maybe 4) other people. They have 2 sopranos, so Sister Kesler and I are singing alto. I'm fine, but she doesn't know how to pick out alto part. We don't know what part their men sing, but Elder Wise sings base...but he's not very all. He knows his part, but he doesn't get up high enough for Elder Buynak to pick out his part. And poor Elder Buynak....the kid is literally tone deaf. Not trying to be mean, but he doesn't pick out different notes well. We all sat at the piano last night and tried to help him get his part. His voice is WAY low, and we figured it out....He can sing an octave lower than the base part, or he can falsetto an octave higher (or 2.) We aren't sure how this is going to turn out.

Please pray that the angels sing with us, or everyone will be slipping down in their seats during sacrament meeting, out of embarrassment for us. This is going to be rough. I'm completely serious, please pray that the angels are with us!

I love you all!


Love, Sister Melinda Wilkins

Monday, December 12, 2011

What a week

December 12, 2011 (email)

Well, I'm amazed I'm still breathing from all the excitement and commotion that happened this week!

Monday after emailing you we went on a hike to some ruins. It was so cool! There was a river bed that had had lots of water flowing within the past week, but had all gone downstream. All that was left was mud...that froze over...sort of. We started to sink whenever we walked on it, and it was all kinds of funky colors from the minerals and chemicals in the ground here. I would send you photos, but I can't...I'll explain later...

Then on Tuesday we had to take the truck into Farmington to get something fixed. I woke up at 5 am so sick to my stomach, but I got ready to exercise at 6:30 anyways. Right before we walked out the door I puked, but I felt instantly better and thought I would be fine the rest of the day. No such luck. I was such a mess I had Sister Kesler drive. Good thing, because right as we got into town I said, "Wow, I'm feeling much better!" but I threw up 2 minutes later. The best part was, we were driving, and I didn't want to be distracting, and I didn't want to make a ton of noise. I tried so hard....and TADA!! she hardly knew I was sick. I was so dainty!!!!! Mom, you would be so proud! (It was like when you where throwing up while pregnant with Della when we went camping and you did it in between sentences with the park ranger.) I was shocked at my skill! Let it be known I am growing up! Well, we continued in Farmington and I got worse and worse. We stopped at Walmart for some stuff, and we ran into a long lost cousin: Derryl R. Herring. He knew Sister Kesler when she served in Farmington. He's the sweetest old man ever! He grew up in Toadalina. He's a Bloomfield. His line goes through George and Lucy Bloomfield. I don't know who they are, but someone does. Well, we were talking to them, and I thought I would pass out. I started bracing myself against the display, but by the end of the conversation it was holding me up. When they FINALLY walked away, I just sat on the floor and put my head between my knees. I had to sit down once more while inside. Thank heavens we were able to get home and I had the Elders come give me a blessing. The rest of the day was kinda rough, but I woke up Wednesday morning feeling oodles better.

Wednesday was a normal Wednesday: we drove to Red Valley, we saw Jay (LOVE HIM!!!) and came back into town for activities at the Church. We were talking with some of my favorite members: the Nosker-Tanners. They are an Anglo family living here while he teaches at the high school. They have a tiny little baby who is the sweetheart of the ward. Everybody adores this little girl. Well, she started to walk last week, and I was determined to have her walk to me before she leaves for the Midwest for Christmas. She toddled over, and when she landed in my lap I threw my arms in the air and yelled/screamed for joy....but I scared the living daylight out of her!!!!! She started to WAIL!!!! and SCREAM!!! and she had the biggest tears I have ever seen. All the missionaries and her mother started to laugh at the situation, but I just started to cry with her. They tried to console her, but every time she would look at me her eyes would well up and she would SOB again. I was totally heart broken!!! She and I just cried and cried while everyone else nearly wet themselves laughing.

While we were sitting there, 2 teenage girls walked in who we had never seen before. They asked if they could walk around and see our church. The elders jumped up and showed them around. They spent so much time looking at photos and books in the library and asking really good questions. They pretty much got the restoration lesson and we were all stoked for these new golden investigators who wandered into the church. We decided to fellowship them a little and play some basketball with them. Eventually all the ward members cleared out of the building and went home. It got to be late and we said it was time to call it quits. We told them to have a good night and we'd see them around. I collapsed on the floor in the gym (as I was not fully recovered from being sick) as they grabbed their backpacks. Sister Kesler had set our keys on the table next to the Elder's keys and wallets. When they grabbed their stuff they must have taken our keys, because Sister Kesler came walking back into the gym and said she just watched our truck peal out of the parking lot and drive away. No one could believe it. We called the vehicle specialist and the police immediately. Then I realized my wallet was in I called President and he said to call dad...I didn't want to call because I knew I would fall apart the moment I heard dad's voice. I did. I was proud I kept the call under 2 min.

With President's permission, the Elders gave us a ride home and we tried to remember what had been inside the truck. They drove off with both our wallets, all of our CDs, my camera, her jacket, a scarf, some gloves, my Book of Mormon DVDs that mom and dad had just sent me, the truck's GPS, and all of our tracting supplies like copies of the Book of Mormon, pass along cards, and our movies. We were so glad that we had our bags and other clothing inside (we had our scriptures and all that stuff, thank heavens, and we had brought in our jeans and sneakers to play basket ball.)

We were all saying prayers left and right. I didn't want to be too greedy, so I only prayed to get the truck back, and not my stuff (bad plan: be specific with Heavenly father, because he will give you what you ask for.)

We had to break into our trailer because our house key was with the truck keys. But we weren't worried about getting our stuff stolen because the girls said they were from another city and we didn't expect them to know where we lived. The police showed up at midnight after we were in bed to get our official written statements.

Thursday was kinda rough, because we had to walk everywhere and our appointments started falling through and we couldn't get anywhere very easily. I had a mini melt down (no tears, just serious frustration and feeling like I was being pulled in every direction. It was the first time on my mission that I wasn't a happy camper, and was downright grumpy. The other missionaries didn't like seeing me down, because I am always so positive and cheerful.) But eventually it wore off and I was back to myself.

Friday was the same deal. I wasn't upset with the girls. I just felt bad for them. Their lives are so messed up that they thought it was okay to steal from "Jesus People" who had just been really kind to them. I thought how miserable their lives must have been to not have the good family upbringing I did. Sister Kesler thought I was nuts and that I should be upset, but Elder Buynak agreed with me. It was a long day, but we got it done. I resigned to the fact that it had now been almost 48hours and we would probably never see our stuff again.

Then around 6 the mission vehicle coordinator called and said he felt bad that we were stuck out here without any food or money, and that he wanted to bring us some supplies and have dinner with his wife and us at our trailer. He said he would be there at 8 pm. We did our thing that night, and came back at 7:30 to spruce up the place. At 8 they weren't there. Five after, ten after. Fifteen after...still nothing. Then I realized there was a message from President Jones on the phone, and we started to hyperventilate while listening. We didn't totally understand, but it sounded like they had found the truck!!! We called the Elders to tell them the news and while on the phone we hear honking outside. We ran outside and screamed into the phone! There was our truck with the mission vehicle guy driving it. The elders dropped everything and came immediately over. Then the coordinator's wife drove up. We all started to cry and celebrate as they told us what happened.

Elder Helquest was going to take his wife out to dinner on Friday night, but felt miserable that we were without food or money while he was sitting pretty. He decided to bring out food and dinner. He thought he would watch one more TV show before coming, but 5 minutes in something told him, "You need to leave NOW." They drove into Shiprock and were getting close to us, when a Colorado truck drove next to them. He thought, "Wouldn't it be nice if that were the sister's truck," but then he saw the plate and KNEW it was ours. He had a mini adrenaline attack and started to follow the truck while his wife called the police. The police came immediately and were able to pull over the truck. Inside were at least 5 people: the 2 girls who stole the truck, 2 guys, and a young teen passed out drunk in the backseat. The car was thrashed, but instead of impounding the vehicle like we were told they would do, they let Elder Helquest take it right then and there and bring it to us.

We were to go through all the stuff, out what was ours and then take the rest of it back to the police station that night. The Elder's helped me clean out all of the junk while Sister Kesler and the Helquests got dinner all situated. The entire car was covered in alcohol and vodka. They had candy and food and wrappers and filth everywhere. All kinds of clothing and make up and stuff. Our things were strewn across the floor and stuffed into the pockets behind the seats. At one point I started pulling clothing out of the cup holder in the door and realized it was a pair of little black underwear. The elders got quite a kick when I threw it disgustingly at the truck bed.
We got inside and started sorting through things. Sister Kesler's coat was missing, but that was about it. We found her wallet, and ID, her temple recommend, and her CD case. My cd's were in a holder on the visor, and they were all gone. My new dvds were gone. My wallet was there, but not my license (thank heavens they didn't toss my social security card, which I had just left in there since traveling at the airport.) My camera was gone. Elder Helquest says he saw a camera when they took the car back, but he didn't know where it went. We checked with the police on Saturday, but they don't know anything about it. There is one last officer we have to ask, and we plan to do that today.

Elder Helquest took the car to Farmington to get it detailed, and we got a loner for the weekend. I'm working on getting a license from New Mexico. I should have prayed to get my possessions back....Sister Kesler prayed for the car and her stuff, and her's was all returned. I only prayed for the truck, and didn't really get my stuff back. But she and I and the Elders are still praying for my belongings now, so maybe there is a chance..... So that was the story of the truck. I am going to ask Sister Kost, Sister Tsosie, Elder Munns, and Elder Buynak to make CDs for me of pictures they have that relate to me so that I can have some sort of collection of photos.

Saturday was just any other Saturday....except it was transfer news night. I was sure I was gone. Totally sure. Well...........nothing is changing in Shiprock! It is still Kesler, Wilkins, Buynak, and Wise.

Sunday there was an amazing Child of Record Baptism.

Now, we have to drive into Farmington to get our truck before a huge storm hits.

Love you all!

If you were going to get a gift for Christmas, it will have to wait because I don't have any access to money. SO you will get New Years gifts. And as for may take a while to respond because I don't have money to buy stamps.


Sister Melinda Wilkins

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Has Come to Shiprock!!!

December 5, 2011 (email)

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!!

Ok, I know it isn't actually Christmas yet, but it seriously snowed here, and I we have Christmas music playing constantly, and... I got 2 HUGE packages from my Family! (Thanks mom and dad, and Hardy clan!!!) Look at how stinkin' cute that Christmas tree is!! I love it! you guys totally know me by getting sparkly, colorful ornaments, and as for those lights...DANG! Those little buggers are INTENSE!!!! I've got a whole loot of stuff, and I haven't even opened it yet!! Grandma and Grandpa Hardy: That "Good Stuff" is AMAZING!!! Holy Cow!!!! I'm trying to savor it, but I think I may have to make myself a batch, or two, or six. And the caramels from home....I screamed out loud, spun around, and did a little dance. (The Elders jumped back at my extreme reaction to the sugar....they delivered them to me and were just as excited to see what was in my big packages.)

I included a picture of me standing on a cliff, edge, thing....that is what a lot of our hikes look like. We rush to get all of our P-Day requirements done, and then hike all day. This thing was nuts! The ledge we walked on came to a point, with maybe only a foot wide space to walk. Either side was a steep drop. Then we got to the cliffs we wanted, and found a "path" that lead around it. The Elders were running along the path, but Sister Kesler and I just clung to the steep cliff wall and inched our way around straight rock up one side...a path barely 2 feet wide...and a "drop off" twenty feet down. We couldn't believe the Elders were dumb enough to climb it, but then we realized we were stupid for following them :)

I also threw in some photos of our baptism this last Saturday. His name is Kamriyano Tyler (Pronounced like the Toyota car : camry-ano.) He is 12 years old, and a stud. His mom and sisters were baptized years ago, but wen inactive when they moved to Shiprock. His mom stopped us one day and said to come teach him. OK!!! sure!!!! He is so smart, and so quick, and he really wanted to learn. He took to righteous principles quickly and his prayers were amazing! He would stutter and be a mess, but they were heartfelt and sincere. He gained a testimony of everything so quickly. It was great to work with him and fall in love with his family.

This week we find out about transfer news...I get the feeling I might get moved, but I really don't want to go. I want to stay here for Christmas, but it wouldn't surprise me to leave. I'll go where the Lord wants me to go....I hope I can just do it with a happy heart.

Did you get to watch the Christmas Devotional last night? It was AMAZING!!! I loved the little movie clip! It's going to be awesome for missionary work. My favorite parts were 1) the angel: he had such cool effects around him, and it worked really well. 2) When the shepherd came to Mary, she actually looked tired! I hate it when she looks all bright eyed and bushy tailed. She just had a BABY for heaven's sake! She should look exhausted!!!!

Did I tell you I got a hair cut? Not much, just a couple inches, but the lady is NOT as good as Aunt Melanie...the layers were a mess, so I had to fix them....that is tough...
Oh, and you can tell from the photos...I'm getting chunky. I'm not bashful about it. I'm getting round. You can totally see it in my face. I've put on 20 pounds since I left. It is all the fry bread and sheep fat! ugh.

I love you! Next time I write I'll know if I'm staying or leaving!!


Sis. Melinda Wilkins

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Details for Dad

November 28, 2011 (email)


Dang, I'm a bad letter writer! You might want to put your questions and my answers on the blog for everyone else too. Okay, here goes...

1) Dad: We loved the details in your last letter. Could we get more of this? For example, you happened to mention that the dogs come back to the trailer to get food (so we know you live in a trailer, not a house or apartment) but you never describe it.
Sister Wilkins: We have a trailer. We call it The Ark because its the biggest one on the reservation and it has a giant ramp leading up to it. It is stationed perpendicular to the Seminary building/trailer across from the high school. It opens into a LARGE living room. There is a hall down the right with 2 rooms. One for study, and the other for all kinds of junk that has been left over the years. Next to the living room is a kitchen, LARGE thing. Then a short hallway to the left with washer and dyer, and a bathroom about the size of Della's bedroom. Our room is big, and we each have queen sized beds! The Elders are really jealous.

2) Dad: What is a typical day like?
Sister Wilkins: Our day starts at 6:30. We get up at 6:15, get dressed, and walk across the 2 lane highway to walk the track at the high school. From 7-8 we get ready. 8-9 is personal study. 9-11 is companion study. Then proselyting. Wednesday night is Young Women's and a Relief Society book club for the New Daughters in Our Kingdom book. Thursday night is Young Single Adults, which we are in charge of, and we play basketball or volleyball at the church.

3) Dad: How many people do you usually teach? What are their names? Could we pray for them by name?
Sister Wilkins: We teach mostly less active families that want to get involved again, and they always have children that are overage that they want to get baptized. We haven't been tracting this entire transfer because we've been busy. I could tell you their names. For now, here's one: Jasper (Jay) Deale. He lives an hour away from the church and doesn't have a car. He's a less-active man who was baptized as a kid with his mom but she stopped coming immediately. He is a long lost friend of mine from the pre-mortal life. I know it. I was sent to Shiprock for him. Please pray that he will find joy in the scriptures, that he will understand their teachings, and that he will be able to make it in for church.

4) Dad: How often do you chop wood? Is it scheduled or do you just ask an investigator/member if you can do service for them and you go out and chop wood in your dress? Do you have gloves?
Sister Wilkins: We chop wood for members a lot. We usually do it 2-3 times a month. I have gloves, because I was getting calluses. I'm a good little chopper. Elder Buynak and I have a pioneer work ethic and we chop and chop while our companions sort of stand around. We bring jeans and sneakers almost everywhere just in case someone needs help. I always change, but I wouldn't put it past me to chop in a skirt, it can TOTALLY be done. Actually, people are always surprised when they see me chopping wood. I'm little, but I'm a tough little bugger, and I don't give up on a piece easily.

5) Dad: How is it that you got to go to Four Corners? Isn't that out of your area. Or is your Shiprock area so large that it includes Four Corners?
Sister Wilkins: Shiprock District is HUGE! It covers Shiprock, TeesNosPos, and Toadalina. Four Corners is in Tees' area, like, 5 minutes from their trailer.

6) Dad: Your truck was low on allowable mileage so you had to walk home from the store in the rain. Do you get extra mileage because the reservation is so large? How do you get to go off-roading using 4-wheel drive, doesn't that use up your mileage?
Sister Wilkins: We have 1300 miles a month. Which is about 33 miles a day and we are really proud of ourselves when we do a 20 mile day, but every Wednesday when we drive to Red Valley, we easily do 90 miles. If we are smart with our miles, we have left over at the end of the month, and if we don't use them, our allotment will shrink, so we go exploring...

7) Dad: Does Shiprock have a regular sized chapel, or is a phase one building like Grandpa and Grandma had in San Carlos? Do you have a baptismal font or do you have to go somewhere else to find one?
Sister Wilkins: Shiprock has a good sized chapel, it is a normal little thing. One of the kind where everything is placed on a diagonal. The rooms are wonky shaped because the rectangle of the building is at 45 degrees to the rectangle of the chapel and gym. The building in Tees is tiny. Much smaller than the San Carlos building. We have a font, but Tees and Toad have to come in and use ours.

8) Dad: You've mentioned that there are also Elders in Shiprock. Is the area divided geographically, or do you dived it by the type of investigator you are teaching? Do the members give you referrals, or do you do a lot of tracting?
Sister Wilkins: The Elders are in charge of the North and East sides of Shiprock and we cover far West and deep South. We have the fun stuff.

As for Christmas...They ask us not to give out our PO box address, but they don't do anything to us if we do. If the package is sent Priority they can forward it to us in Shiprock. If not, we have to wait until we go into town, which is once or twice a month. They probably want them in early so that they can forward them before transfers, because the week before they start holding them until they know where everyone is going. Send it to the mission office, and it will get to me before transfers, and if it doesn't, I'll have to go to Farmington for transfers anyways.

I love you. Sorry I'm bad with details!

Sister Melinda Wilkins


November 28, 2011 (email)

Hello everyone. This may be short because I wrote a long letter to dad...hopefully he will post it on the blog.

This week was rough numbers-wise because we had 2 p-days (Thanksgiving) and a zone conference. But Thanksgiving was great!

We went to our Ward Mission Leaders home with just him and his wife. Sister Kesler and I came early at 9 to cook food while the Ward Mission Leader and the Elders went to chop wood. We finished and all sat in the living room. Sister Walser had the Thanksgiving day parade on TV, and she watched while Sister Kesler gave her a foot massage and I wrote in my journal and tried to do letters. The Elders came back totally beat, but we made them stay awake and eat. We were totally surprised that we didn't have any sheep at Thanksgiving. We had turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, jello, yams, bread, cranberry stuff, and a bunch of other goodies. I was amazed at how much I packed in. For how small I am, I was able to eat as much as everyone else. They all watched as I sat and tried to finish it. They made me show I had swallowed like in Fear Factor.

We were all too full to do much, so we decided to go on a walk, and the Walsers suggested the actual Shiprock. They brought their dogs and it was funny watching them follow Elder Buynak all over the place. He's a monkey and climbs everything and the dogs were always by his side. You'd see him reach a peak and then pop! the dogs show up beside him.

We came back and had dessert: ice cream, yummy raspberry stuff, pumpkin pie, cheese cake and something else tasty. It was a really relaxing day.

We have a baptism this weekend...which means there will be tons of opposition this week. Ugh, but glad game: someone is entering the gate to the CELESTIAL KINGDOM!!! IT doesn't get much better than that. The little boy's name is Kamriyano Tyler. He's 12. He's way smart and quick. He's excited to get the priesthood and be able to go to the temple with his mom ( who is working on going to do baptisms for the first time in years!)

Well, I love you all!


Sister Melinda Wilkins
Hand-Written Letter Dated November 25, 2011

Dear Family,

I hope you had a TERRIFIC Thanksgiving. Mine was really nice, I mean as nice as a missionary holiday can be. We spent it with the Ward Mission Leader and his wife. They are sweet and enjoyed having missionaries over instead of it only being the two of them.

We started discussing what we were thankful for, and I said a Dad who would be/is healthy. First on the list is the Gospel, then my family, then dad's health, and then...toilet paper. Seriously, that stuff saves lives.

I am for sure in Shiprock for another two weeks, but then Transfers happen. I don't want to leave Shiprock, but I feel that I might be transferred. Bummer. I really want to be here for Christmas. I love the people here. The ward members know me now and they trust me. There are so many lives that are changing.

Many missionaries talk about "their focus" meaning some spend all their energies on finding (tracting), others on numbers, or baptisms, or building up the ward. I've discovered mine are 1) The Book of Mormon, and 2) reactivating less-active members.

1) The Book of Mormon has the power to change individuals and families. Reading it brings a surge of the spirit into lives, homes, and families. When someone knows it is true, nothing else can really stand in their way.

2) Reactivating less-active families is more the responsibility of the ward, but when a ward doesn't do that, the responsibility falls on the missionaries. It does no good if missionaries baptize four dozen people, if they all go inactive immediately. It means that missionary didn't do their job well enough and the person is practically "condemned" to the Terrestrial kingdom. I won't have that.

Most of these less-active members have been hurt and didn't want to come back, or didn't know how to come back. I want to love them all and show them what is possible. I want them to know someone loves them and believes they can accomplish anything. I want to bring families to the Celestial kingdom. I want to see temple sealings! I want to see strengthened families and love abounding where there was once only confusion and anger. At least in Shiprock, I'm having more success finding the lost sheep than I am bringing in new ones. And I'm okay with that. Either way, souls are coming into the light.

I hope that you all are making conscious steps into the light. It is so wonderful and peaceful. I have been so thankful recently for my family and the atmosphere I was raised in. We had love and joy. Lots of JOY. Lots of silliness. Lots of rootin' tootin' good times.

Speaking of good times, I included the photos of when we helped "butcher." That is the technical term for any part of the family and social gathering that involves killing, draining the blood and skinning a sheep; harvesting and cleaning out its insides; cutting and cooking the meat; and the big free-for-all when the food is served. If you look at the Ache'ee (the nasty fat wrapped in intestine), I think it looks like a mutant nasty grub thing that only an alien would eat. Then when it gets cooked on the grill, it looks like a burned centipede missing its legs. Not enticing. Once the intestine is cleaned out, it feels like slimy rubber-bands.

I know dad had surgery already, but if he needs another kidney, I know where to find one.

Wrapping the Ache'ee: Strips of fat with cleaned out intestine wrapped around it. Oh, and don't forget the bloody bowl of gizzards.

The cooked Ache'ee. Can you tell from my face that I'm dreading the next moment? Because I DID NOT want to put it in my mouth.

There is a photo of me patting out the fry-bread. It starts in a little dough ball and then you use your fingers to press it into a disk slightly bigger than your palm. Then you pat it back and forth as if you were clapping and rotating your wrists 180 degrees each clap. I'm getting much better at it. I haven't been taught how to make the dough yet. All I know is that they eyeball it and use flour, baking powder, salt and water. That's it. The same recipe and technique for patting it out is used for fry-bread and tortillas. I prefer the tortilla... less grease. Oh, and instead of using vegetable oil, they use LARD! Tastes great, but makes you want to roll over and die when the meal is over. You wonder why I've put on 20 pounds since I left home! Well, I can't think of what else to say. Do you have any questions for me?

Making fry-bread. It is actually round (instead of being lop-sided and messed up!)

Love you!

Sister Melinda Wilkins