I’m finally here!!! The MTC was amazing, but I’m so happy to be here in the field. And by field, I mean literally a field. But more on that later.
I got up at 3am Monday morning, and I think we left the MTC a little before five. We were on this bus full of elders, and then there were two sisters besides me. The sisters were both in my MTC district, and there were three elders from my district as well, so that was really nice to have some familiar faces! As the bus left the MTC parking lot, the Provo temple was right there in front of us. Since it was still dark outside, the temple was all glowing and beautiful. It was like BAM you’re doing the Lord’s work and it’s awesome.
Then we took two trains to the airport and flew into Denver. As we were starting to come down over Denver, Sister Walker and Sister York and I couldn’t see any mountains or lightning or snow. Since that’s all I’ve heard about my mission, I was a little confused, but it turned out we were in the right place. We came into the airport and saw these signs for tornado shelters, so that was slightly worrying too, but it sounds like tornado season is coming to a close and we should be good until around April. So it was just this huge group of elders and three sisters coming off the plane in confusion, but then we met President and Sister Mendenhall and they are awesome!! They met each of us and talked to us for a while, and then we took a couple pictures with them. I think those pictures are on a facebook page for the Colorado Denver North mission. Anyway, we all loaded up into cars and drove for a while until we came to the mission home.
Oh and by the way we found the mountains. That was reassuring. They were just on the other side where we couldn’t see them from the plane. They were kind of in the distance though.
Everyone in the mission home is super amazing and nice! I love all of them. We went through some orientation stuff, and then we had lunch since we were all faint from exhaustion and hunger, and then we met our trainers!! We went up one by one, and when I went up, President Mendenhall said “And Sister Stratford is going to Strasburg” really meaningfully and all of the missionaries who had already been in the mission were like, “Ohhhhhh” and I was like is this good or bad?? And then I met Sister Kastner! She is my companion and she’s the best!! She’s from California too, AND she went to BYU last year too, AND she’s into art too, AND we even had the same Book of Mormon professor last year! We’re going to hike the Y together after our missions.
Sister Kastner and President and Sister Mendenhall filled me in on Strasburg. When they found out I’m from San Jose each of them said something to the effect of “Wellll hmm this will be a fun new experience for you!” So Strasburg is like COUNTRY. It’s so flat, you can see the curvature of the earth! It actually takes up over half of the entire mission area. Out here, it’s just me and Sister Kastner, and five small towns, and prairie. Oh and our pickup truck! Haha I love our pickup truck:)
After we left the mission home, we drove for a long time. And oh my goodness the sky was putting on a show. The clouds just soared above us and they were so breathtaking I couldn’t stop looking at them! And they seriously have not stopped putting on a show since I got here. Sister Kastner said the sky is always gorgeous:)
Also there are prairie dogs here. They don’t just live in zoos!
Finally we got to our apartment, which is super cute! And then we went to do cool missionary things!! We went to dinner with a member family first, and they were awesome. And then we went to an investigator’s house and we *cough*prettymuchjustSisterKastner*cough* taught a lesson about the Plan of Salvation! I really felt the Spirit. And then we went back to the apartment and I got settled in.
It was a very tiring day, but also so exciting!! I already love being here and can’t wait to meet the rest of the people. Sister Kastner has been telling me about our members and investigators and they sound amazing! And I still can’t get over how beautiful it is in this area. Out here under the sky you can’t help but feel the Spirit all the time:)
I’ve actually been thinking a lot about the Spirit. It is so crucial to have Him with us to guide us as we do missionary work. Heavenly Father knows people’s needs a lot better than we do, so when we rely on the Spirit, we will say exactly what people need to hear. I’m not very good at that yet, but I’m learning!
I know that Heavenly Father is real and that He loves us. And because He loves us, He has a plan for us to be as happy as we can possibly be! That plan is called the gospel of Jesus Christ. And we have it! Isn’t that amazing? I know that through Jesus Christ, we can learn and grow from our mistakes in this life and become better people because of it. We can become who we want to be. When we come to Him, He turns our weakness into strength. That definitely brings me happiness and hope right now, when I don’t quite know what I’m doing just yet! I know that Jesus Christ’s gospel was restored through Joseph Smith, a prophet of God. We are incredibly blessed to have the gospel, and it is essential for us to share it with the world. Everyone everywhere deserves to know that Heavenly Father loves them, that He has a plan for them, and that they can find peace, comfort, and joy in this life and the next.
I’m going to make sure the people in my five little towns can know that:)
I hope you all are doing well! You are amazing! And thank you for your support and prayers. I feel them with me:)