Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Singing In The Rain!

Oh my goodness gracious! The heavens opened and it came pouring down. We had 3 solid days of rain! There was no chance of being dry during the days. We constantly changed shoes and dripped dry next to our umbrellas. It was hard to complain about the rain because we have needed it so much. I wouldn't be surprised if we did get 6 inches of rain. In a canyon pretty close to us there was a mud slide 4 miles up. We were all preparing for the worse. Some backyards ended up in pools because there was no vegetation to hold it in. There were some fires up here over the summer and with no rain to help the grass seed sprayed onto those areas we were at high risk for mud slides. But all is well and things are going to take a while to dry out a little bit. 
My new companion is Sister Hatfield. She is 19 years old and is from Spanish Fork, UT. She has never lived on her own before nor has she lived outside of Spanish Fork. We have had some adventures learning how to bake/cook. And we have had some tough days of homesickness. I wish I knew how to help her better. All I can do is listen and tell her I love her.
 I am currently serving in an area called Castaic (cast-ay-ick). hmmm how would I describe it to you? Its a town located north of the Santa Clarita Valley. The homes and the town are surrounded and built into the bluffs. Its beautiful. This morning I woke up to a fiery orange sunrise just coming over the east bluff. There are lots of canyons surrounding us that we drive through to get to the ward members homes. The "downtown" part of it reminds me of Cheyenne Wyoming. There are lots of semi truck gas stations. The drivers here dont drive like California drivers. Most of the homes are ritzy but the owners aren't rich. Everyone buys the big homes just to go to work everyday to try and afford them. There are also some places of mobile home parks.So its a mix of hick and rich. Interesting, right? Our church building is 9 miles away and for us to go grocery shopping somewhere cheap we have to go down into Santa Clarita. I have definitely been spoiled by being in San Fernando Valley for way too long.... 
This week has been a little frustrating to say the least. When we got to the area I just about died. I quickly realized that the past/previous missionaries were very very disobedient. The ward doesn't know what obedient missionaries are. It has taken a lot of effort to explain why we cant leave our area for dinners (which is an absolute fiasco!), why we cant hold their children or why we have to stay with our companion. I found out also that an Elder who has since returned home from serving his mission made out with some of the young women....yeah, bad missionary!!!! I got so overwhelmed I called President Hall. He assured me that I had been put there for a purpose and that he trusts that my companion and I can get things set straight. We walked all day long in the rain for several days. We quickly learned no one answers their doors! We are learning just how much we will have to work with the ward members. So it may be extremely slow the next couple weeks. 
Last Monday night I made a big boo boo. The apartment I was staying at with the Sister Training Leaders has some problems with cockroaches. One walked over my night guard. So thinking about the easiest way to sterilize it I went to boil it. BIG MISTAKE!!!!!!! I totally warped and shrunk a $400 mouth guard in a matter of seconds. I was totally devastated. I went to bed stressed and woke up sick the next morning. I kept thinking what am I going to do? I need it! I can't afford a new one, not right now. So the rubber one from the store is just going to have to work for now. It isn't the same but it is a solution that will have to work for the next few months. 
So this week has just been an adventure. I know that this next week will get better. So there you have it. =)
I am glad that all the kids from the family were able to get together. It was fun to "see" everyone. 
Well, I need to go but I love you all and I hope that you are staying dryer than I have!
Hurrah for Israel,
Sister Cottrell
My New Companion- Sister Hatfield
Preaching in the RAIN!

Hard Week!

Once again I am not exactly sure how to start this email. And I am not sure I can make it a long one today. This week has been the MOST emotionally, physically, and mentally. Last week I left you a huge cliff hanger as to what was happening. So to address the elephant in my life, my companion Sister Bray went home this week. There were things that needed to be taken care of. It sounds simple but between her and I for several weeks it has been hard. I am drained plain and simple. I made sure to be the rock that she needed everyday. She needed me to be strong so that she could manage one hour at a time. I haven't done a ton of missionary work in the last 2 weeks and that has been weighing on me. When we got the call telling us she was going home it was Tuesday of this week. We were both instructed to pack. That was a mess! I am so glad that I have sent boxes home lately! Sister Bray flew home Thursday. Saying goodbye to our investigators and our ward was so hard, and not everyone we wanted to say goodbye to could we get a hold of. Our dear investigator (the 13 year old)... we almost lost him this week with the emergency transfer. It was so scary! I was so worried that it wouldn't go through. Why? Because we are the only missionaries he has been able to connect with and his legal guardian was being protective and flaky. But we got those concerns resolved and he is getting baptized next Sunday. I didn't think it would be so hard to say goodbye to Sister Bray. She literally became my best friend close enough to a sister for me. I felt torn apart and when I left her with my new companions for the week I lost it hard core. I cried the whole way home. Given that I am back in the YSA ward for the week with the other Sister Training Leaders. It was weird to be there. I have friends there and I absolutely love all of them but I didn't belong. It isn't my stewardship anymore. I felt out of place and like a stranger almost. That was really hard. President Hall called on Friday.......he had 3 things to discuss with me. 1. Sister Bray is doing great. He thanked me for being who I am because it was meant to be me to help her with whatever was going to happen. He assured me that she didn't get sent home because of me, which I already knew but told me he loved me and appreciated all I did for her and with her. 2. He informed me that Great Grandpa had passed away. I knew that is was coming when I saw his name on the caller id. But it was still hard to hear. Its true that no matter how well you know the gospel you still have a mourning period. I couldn't cry at the time because we were at an appointment but I definitely cried later. I miss him a lot. I have lots of memories that have come flooding back this week. The pictures have been amazing to see of him. Thank you all for sharing them with the family. 3. I was told that it was 95% certain I wasn't going back to Van Nuys. President Hall broke tradition and told me I was leaving the Valley. I know exactly where I am going and I am training again. I remember I was nervous to get Sister Bray but today I am on the edge. I feel totally uncertain about this next transfer. I don't know what will work for my new companion, or how she will respond to me, or what I need to do to make her transition into the mission field easy. What I keep hanging on to is Pres. Halls words. He told me that when this area was brought up my name came immediately to mind and he knew that I needed to go there. I trust him and I trust the Lord so now I am just trying to "put off the natural man." What I can tell you about this area is that it is the "country side" of the city. I have never been there but I have heard good things about it. 
So that has been my week. I got a blessing last night because I just felt so overwhelmed. I am trying to not be a burden to the other Sisters but when you unexpectedly throw a 3rd companion into the picture with their area plus all your responsibilities it gets messy. 
I know this isn't a happy email and I am sorry. I am doing well. Just trying to take one day at a time. I love you all and I hope that as you all prepare to go to the funeral that you find peace. Even if the tears come. Death is not unfamiliar to me. I know that the grief will pass eventually but until then I will let the tears come and I will remember the memories and hold onto them. I know that Grandpa is doing a great work on the other side. I know that because of the plan of salvation and the Atonement and the Priesthood we will all be able to see and hug grandpa again someday. I love the Gospel and I am grateful for the peace it brings me. This is what I share everyday. I know its true. 
Hurrah for Israel!
Sister Cottrell