This week has been so different for me!
On Tuesday we went to Transfer meeting and rejoiced in our hearts at the sight of 29 missionaries walking into the chapel. They are the kind of missionaries our mission is in desperate need of right now. They already know how to talk to everyone and they are energetic. I know I have said this before but every group that comes in is more prepared than the last. It is just so amazing! After transfer meeting and transporting Elders bikes to their rightful owners and leaving mine to be sold at the mission office ( :( ) we finally got to an appointment with one of our recent converts. He has been struggling so much because he has been keeping his conversion a seceret from his family because they are staunch Catholics and wouldn't approve at all. He is 29 and can make his own decisions but at the time of his baptism didn't want to face the problems and conflicts with his family. Unfortunately the seceret was discovered by his mom and some pretty hurtful things were sad. The bigger problem is his father who doesn't know yet and his mom is even worried about when he finds out. So we really just did alot of spiritual refortifying and he walked away more confident that things were going to work out. We made plans to have another appointment with him so that we could teach him some techiniques of how to tell his dad about it and how to pillow his defenses without getting beaten. Its gonna be rough but I have full confidence that he will handle it like a champ.
On Wednesday we taught the Restoration to our NEW investigator from Russia!!!!! Yes he is now an investigator and so amazing. When we explained the purpose of life is to prepare to meet God and strive to become like Him our investigator said, "Wow, thats beautiful." haha The light of Christ "is strong with this one." (for all you Star Wars fans ;D) He is just so great to teach. He asked if we could get him a Russian Book of Mormon since English is a second language and he thinks in Russian. We set out the next day to our mission office to go get a Russian Book of Mormon. We literally walked into the office staff meeting. It was so embarrassing! We totally forgot about it. hahaha we left very quickly. I don't think I have been in and out quicker from the office. ;D We got home and started our day. Around dinner time we got a call from some Zone leaders asking if I had a bike to sell. I said yes but that it was at the office. By the end of our conversation it was apparent that we needed to drive back up to Santa Clarita to go get the bike. We made it just in time before the office closed and got the bike out of storage. When we finally met up with the Zone Leaders we turned the bike over to them. I cried the whole way home. I kept asking myself why it is that we get so attached to inanimate objects. Its so not fair! Then I realized that Calvin was what saved my sanity during the one transfer I had with my last companion. He was the only thing I could get my frustration out on, he was my stress relief and I knew that he wasn't going to talk back to me. Calvin was always there for me. So I got super attached to him. I mourned the loss of Calvin for about 20 minutes and then needed to move on to other things.
One night we took all the institute students out with us to a booth we had set up outside of the building which is located directly across the street of the college campus. They have been studying Preach My Gospel all summer and finally got to put what they learned to the test. There were so many YSA's I finally started dividing them and sending them to different locations in the neighborhood and on campus. They came back so fast with all of their material gone!!!! We couldn't write our contact info fast enough on the pass a long cards! Some came back with really cool experiences. They were running up to cars waiting for red lights to change they walked with people who passed by and they gave out "pictures of Jesus." It was so fun we literally did nothing!!!! At the end of an hour we estimated that we gave away about 150 cards to people and probably talked to 200 people. It was just so amazing and I think it really helped the members of our ward get excited about missionary work now that they know they can do it.
On Friday morning I woke up at 4:50am with an intense headache. I went out to the couch grabbed an ice pack and tried to fall asleep but the pain in my head was extreme. I remember hearing alarms going off but no one came out of their rooms so I just stayed on the couch. When I did get up I looked at the clock and it was 8am! Suddenly it hit me that I was light sensitive. I thought, "Oh no!" The start of a migraine. I went and crawled into bed where it was dark. My companion said good morning and I replied that it was not a good morning lol I explained why and she said well district meeting is at 9.... I just started crying. Not today, I thought. She suggested a hot shower might help but that required being in a room filled with light. I finally made my way and got started. I went to district meeting with sun glasses on. They were so nice to turn the lights out for me but there was still a ton of light from the large window. About half way through I started getting waves of nausea, weakness and getting sound sensitive. I knew I was done for at that point. By the time a very long district meeting ended I was in no condition to drive home so another set of sisters drove us and the Elders drove our car home. The elders gave me a blessing and in it I was reminded to rely on the Atonement of Christ. That alone gave me a ton of food for thought for the rest of the day. Sister Hall (Pres. Halls wife) ordered a double dose of medicine for me and a dark silent room. Sister S. being the wonderful companion she is gave me a shoulder, neck and scalp massage which instantly released half the pain in my head. I think grinding my teeth because of stress is a big factor and very little sleep in the last week. I couldn't believe it! I fell asleep for several hours after that. When I woke up I just started praying and thanking Heavenly Father for the blessings I had recieved that morning. As I reflected on the Atonement I suddenly realized that in order for Christ to have suffered all pain, affliction and suffering he would have had to experience a migraine. Poor man......I had never had a headache quite like the one I had that morning. I suddenly felt peace, comfort, and a love for Christ that went deeper than just gratitude. It amazed me just how much more real the atonement becomes when I learn more about it. And I never stop learning about it. After a while of resting I finally got up and was able to be in a lighted room. Sister S and I talked for just a little bit when the phone rang. Elder Stucki (district leader) called and started frantically explaning, "Elder Miller took a spill on his bike, and his arm might be broken, and we cant get any priesthood holders to answer their phones! Can you come get us?" We ran out the door calling Pres. Hall to let him know we were picking up the Elders even though it is against the rules to have Elders and Sisters in the same car. When he responded he said, "Oh wonderful Sisters! Keep me informed of how it all goes." We laughed and continued on our way. By the time we got them to the Doctors office the Zone Leaders finally showed up. hahaha. Elder Millers arm is indeed broken and they are now in a car. So that day was busy and tiring and I still ended up sleeping all night even though I slept all day. It was just a wierd headache kind of day.
I want to take a few moments and tell you of a miracle that happened earlier this week. I know I talked about mail last week but I am going to revisit it. Sister Haws is a Sister Training Leader in the Bakersfield mission. I recieved a letter from her this week and in the envelope was another envelope addressed to me. On the second envelope was the sticky note that explained she had been on exchanges in Palmdale and saw my mail laying on the table and that she just got the feeling for some weird reason she needed to take care of it and send it to me. The letter was from a friend I was very worried about not getting mail from due to the abrupt transfer to my current area. The letter was almost 3 weeks old!!!!!!! I'll let you make your own conclusions about that situation....
I have received so much mail from everyone that I have just melted into gratitude to you and my Heavenly Father. I am so grateful for the prompting Sister Haws acted on. It helped me so much!
Yesterday was probably the hardest day of my mission so far there is a lot of details that go with it and this email is already really long but I will try to sum it up. My companion comes from a VERY military family. She is a fixer of problems and always is ready to go go go. She sometimes is intimidating and I have a hard time communicating to her because of it. A couple days ago I was having some questions about processes we go through as Sister Training Leaders. She was ready as ever to respond with an answer of thats just the way it is. I wasn't satisfied with the answer and she couldn't understand why. I know I'm leaving out details here but I hope you can follow me. I asked her sometime later for help on how I can express myself better. She didn't have an answer for that one. Then yesterday after church Pres. Hall suddenly showed up. I was thrown into a ball of emotions. I couldn't figure out why he was there. When I asked my comp about it, it was apparent she had organized the meeting and I somehow missed the memo in the phone when she handed it to me to catch up on the messages she had sent. She had already told me of some conversations she had had on the phone so I wasn't looking for anything. When we sat down and Sis. S. stated the reason for the meeting she said it was to help us in our communication with each other. President Hall asked me what I wanted to talk about and I explained that I was shocked and surprised becaused I didn't know this was happening and that I was too emotional to talk right then. I was put in a seperate room at that point. Luckily there was a piano for me and I cried harder than I have ever cried in the last 7 months. About an hour and a half later I was finally summoned and President Hall and I just talked. He told me that if I needed to throw a chair across the room I could haha all I need is a punching bag but thats okay it wasn't necessary. I expressed all the emotions that I had been feeling. Betrayed, hurt, pain, frustration etc. He asked me to just get everything out. I told him I was tired of feeling like all my companions hate me and that no one can seem to get along with me. Between Sisters D, P and S. I was up to my ears in frustration! I told him I felt done, that I wanted to go home. I was tired of living my own personal hell. Which later he agreed with me on. In the end we had talked about Sister P.and the frustration I had had over the fact that I can't seem to get away from the troubles that happened in our companionship. He told me some things that I have been sworn to my grave in secrecy on, which helped me let go of the guilt I thought was mine. He flat out told me that I was not the cause of the problems in the companionship. It wasn't me. It simply wasn't me. I cannot tell you how much I have longed to hear those words. To feel the guilt leave to know that I was okay...it wasn't me. I hope you can understand my relief. As for Sister S, well with President Halls help he and I came to the conclusion she and I are very different. Because of the military background she is always ready and always has a solution. As for me, I am the type of person that likes to process and think about things before I answer or take action. I need time to step away from a situation to think or calm down before I can move on. He asked me several different questions in which he told me my responses were classic Sister Cottrell responses and that it was totally fine. He commended me on my comment from when we started that " I dont think I can talk right now." He said that it was a brilliant response and asked me to try to continue doing it in the future. He told me to always remember 2 things: 1. I am an awesome missionary. 2. President Hall loves me for who I am and to never change. He quized me several times about those 2 things to make sure that I remember them. I love President Hall, In our conversation we laughed I cried and he counseled me on my companionship but also in my relationship with my future husband. He can do that since he used to be a strengthening marriage teacher. :D We came back together and it was quite naturally tense. President Hall talked mostly and asked us how we were going to make decisions on a couple things. What he really did was help us come up with the tools we need to make OUR decisions and not do things Sister S.s way or my way but that we do it OUR way. Even though at first I was mad and angry and frustrated and hurt and all sorts of other things I am really grateful I was finally just able to unload and that President Hall is now aware of everything. Even the snoring problem. (He laughed alot when I told him all about my adventures with a snoring comp) lol
So that has been my week. Ups and Downs for sure but tons of learning opportunities! It has been a good week over all. I am so sorry this is such a long email so I'll say good bye now ;D I love you all very much!!!!!
Hurrah for Israel!