Monday, November 30, 2015

Nov 30, 2015
Reindeer Farm in Palmer, AK
 Old Pictures and Fireworks!

So it turns out that every Saturday after Thanksgiving, if you'll head on over to Palmer, AK 
you'll see a brilliant fireworks display. We're talking about rivaling Disney World - a solid 
thirty minutes of blasting insanity! It starts at 7:19, because the guy who sponsors it
has a birthday on July 29th and can't let off fireworks on that day (firstly, there's not enough dark here to do it anytime aside from about 2 in the morning and secondly, there's usually a fire ban in the summer. Did you know Alaska is a desert?) So as Sister McGraw and I
sat inside with dear Sister Giese and were just beginning our lesson, we suddenly 
discovered ourselves on a walk to see said fireworks. I think I only lost hearing in one ear 
from standing about 50 feet from where they were actually shooting off the fireworks.

Speaking of Sister Giese, this week I have absolutely seen the power God has in our lives. She has definitely not led an easy life, and everyone else in her family but one sister has 
abandoned church as helpful in any capacity, but she still knows it's where God wants her
to be. She hates the judgy stares she gets every week, she hates fake friendliness, and she hates that sometimes it takes a long time for people to even say hi to her. But she still 
comes! She has an amazing testimony, and after all of the things she's been through I'm 
amazed she's even alive. The fireworks were also perfectly timed to transition from a 
"getting things off my chest" session into a reading of the Book of Mormon, which really 
changed the atmosphere and helped us all be happier. God's really good at that whole 
timing thing...

Our district is pretty fun. Also, if you didn't know, real reindeer are actually pretty small. Like, deer-size (imagine that!) Nowhere close to moose or even elk or caribou size.

So in other news... Sister McGraw is still sick. It's been three weeks now, and she's 
supposed to be better... I think the Lord is teaching me how to take care of sick people. 
Or at least trying to.

Oh! Thanksgiving! How could I forget that was this week? It was full of thanks. At The 
high school here they had a free dinner for anyone who either didn't have enough to have 
a Thanksgiving meal or just didn't have anyone to have it with. We had a lot of fun serving 
food, and met lots of interesting people! There was a Hawaiian guy that was pretty nice that spent awhile trying to convince me to join him and his religion. However, he spent a lot of 
time talking about how religions are just systems of oppression, so I'm not sure why his 
religion isn't oppressive? It has something to do with all you need is a love relationship with Jesus, because the fig tree doesn't bear fruit by trying to, it just soaks up the sun, the light of the world! So don't join any religions, except for his.

But there were also tons of other kind people there! And it was fun to serve and talk and run around trying to get food for people and not offend anyone. Good times.

After that, we were able to eat dinner with a family here, which was fun. Then we were 
coerced into playing Snatch Bingo... Where you can steal other people's prizes. It was only mildly vicious, and I came out with a Darth Vader notebook and a sticker book, so I was 

Everyone and their dog were at church yesterday, including us! It is so neat to see people
 come closer to their Savior. 

Remember Jesus! Remember that prayer isn't that complicated - It's just talking to your 
perfect Father. As the Bible Dictionary describes, once you understand your relationship 
with Him, prayer becomes natural and instinctive. 

Much love and happiness to all!

Sister Rollins

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nov 23, 2015

God teaches Sister Rollins patience

Poor Sister McGraw is still sick! So I've been reading Ensigns and calling people and 
learning patience. And making Sister McGraw sleep. Apparently, I'm not very good at it. If 
anybody has any tips on how to make people sleep, let me know.

We had Sisters' Training this week, where all the sisters in the mission get together and 
have lunch and learn more about the Gospel and being sister missionaries. It was nice to 
see old companions and other sisters I've gotten to know! The main theme was about 
hearing the music of the Gospel, and not just dancing the steps. So in missionary work, we need to love the people and make sure we're understanding the love God has for us, and 
not just following the rules and blindly obeying. We had 27 sisters there, and soon we'll be
down to 22 sisters in the mission! Weird.

Well, stay strong! Don't get caught in snow drifts or freeze in the -10 degree weather.

Sister Rollins

Monday, November 16, 2015

Nov 16, 2015
Then half of my companion's tooth got drilled off...
Obligatory selfie of me and my new companion! Who, if anyone cares,
was actually trained by my last companion, Sister Galli. Also please
take special notice of the weird wall carpet stuff present in every
LDS church building ever - the Church is true, even in Alaska.

Hello hello from Palmer, Alaska! Home of a reindeer farm and the Alaska State Fair.

It's starting to get a little chilly up here... It's been pretty consistently in the negatives, but we broke 0 today! It honestly doesn't feel as cold as you think it is. Most of the time.

So this week was a little slow, because my wonderful new companion, dear Sister McGraw, has caught quite a bad cold... And this cold air certainly isn't helping her get better! We've 
been offered most remedies under the sun, but if you think of any feel free to send us
some more! Because hopefully I won't catch it, but if theoretically I did... At least now we 
have plenty of tissues, NyQuil, lozenges and also sorts of warm drinks and Jello!

So Lazy Mountain is, indeed, a mountain. I'm sure that surprises most of you, but I now live on a mountain! It's pretty fun to drive up the switchbacks in the dark, especially with ice on 
the road. But I'm not an official, true blue Alaskan driver until I survive the winter. So
here's to hoping I survive...

I've seen two more moose here, but more importantly, I went to a reindeer farm! They only 
have a couple hundred reindeer, but we helped the vet check their mouths/draw their blood. Helping mostly entailed us herding/holding the reindeer. Reindeer like to spit...

The member missionary work here is amazing! We visited three families who had invited their friends over to meet with us, and they all went really well. Also, we sang happy birthday to someone, and I didn't quite know how to sing it nicely... But it wasn't quite as bad as my
family usually sings it - there were no crying babies, at least.

In my studies this week I've really been focusing on the Book of Mormon, and I've learned 
some cool things. The purpose of the Book of Mormon (which I knew before, but it never 
really hit me) is to testify of Christ to the Lamanites. So many writers in the Book of Mormon
prayed for the record to be preserved just so that those who didn't get a chance to really 
learn about Jesus Christ and his plan for us could know - and their prayers were totally 
answered! The millions of copies of the Book of Mormon now available are an answer to all of their prayers, and now it's our job to share its message of love and the possibility of 
forgiveness to not only the Lamanites, but everyone!  Neat-o to think about.

Have a great week! Remember that your trials are blessings in disguise. Like because 
Sister McGraw was sick, I got to clean out our whole apartment!

Remember who you are and whose you are :)

Sister Rollins

Monday, November 9, 2015

Nov 9, 2015
More snow and heading out!

So it's still snowing here, which is delightful! It also starts getting dark around 5, which is 
less delightful. It's mildly amusing to knock on someone's door at 7 (that you know) and 
them to be surprised that you're visiting so late! Especially when at 9 in the summertime 
it's barely evening... But who needs clocks anyway?
So I'm leaving Soldotna! After four transfers and almost six months, it's weird to be leaving.
I definitely will miss it, but I'll be heading to Palmer! Which is nearish to Wasilla, if anyway 
knows Alaskan geography. If you don't, I'll be about an hour north of Anchorage, so still in 
the middle of the southern half of the state. It will still be cold and snowy. I love Alaska.

Current moose count: 28

Current caribou count: 17

Future companion count in Soldotna: 3! Everyone jokes that they need two missionaries to 
replace me... So Sister Grieve and Sister Larcom will join Sister Galli for her last transfer.
Sister Galli and I have had a rollicking time together! It's been weird to help her plan for 
BYU this winter semester... So anyone in/around Provo, lookout for Laurel Galli - she rocks!
 I'm sad to leave her, but my new companion is actually her trainee! So Sister McGraw and 
I will be serving together in the Lazy Mountain ward.

It's been good to wrap up my time here. I received some socks and Chapstick as a going 
away present, which was really nice. Pro tip to any Christmas present givers to 
missionaries in Alaska: you can't go wrong with socks.

The Lord has been so good to me! We had a great dinner with a lady in our ward who is a 
mental health therapist for a hospital up here, and she had lots of great sociological advice.
 We also had a great discussion about identifying the Holy Ghost and choosing to believe.
She might be my new favorite person, which is a shame because I'm leaving today. But 
the Lord definitely sends us people who we can have real conversations with when we 
need them.

I was reading the conference talk "Seeking the Lord" from April of this year and loved this 
quote from it: "A deeper understanding of Jesus Christ will give us greater hope for the 
future and, despite our imperfections, more confidence in achieving our righteous goals." 
Hope is something that I feel like I've gained on my mission a lot - it's much easier to gain 
when you are around hopeful people all of the time and are constantly surrounding yourself
 with uplifting messages and cut out most media. There's certainly still adversity, but you 
feel like you have the tools to deal with it and have a lot of hope for your current and 
immediate future. I also love this quote from the section about hope in Preach my Gospel: 
"Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you." Isn't it fascinating that
hope is only related to His promises to you?

Anyway, have a wonderful and hopeful week this week! Do what truly makes you happy.

Much love and charity,

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Nov 2, 2015
Missionary life unedited version
CW: graphic descriptions of sickness/puking

So then I went on exchanges and ate at Taco King... And then puked my guts out at this 
poor less active lady's house... Like everywhere. Poor Sister Johnstun dry heaves if she 
even hears someone else throw up, so she was no help. I think it was inspired, though - it 
was better than throwing up at the apartment, where I would have had to clean it up, and 
Sister Pike is my HERO and didn't complain one bit - aw, sweetie, go in the bathroom and 
clean up! Don't worry about it, I'll clean it up here - and cleaned it up with a mop bucket like
a champ in about 15 minutes. I mostly just felt bad that I had gotten it everywhere (I 
probably puked about 5 or 6 times) but I missed her couch and her rug, so she only had to 
clean up hardwood and the bathroom, which didn't seem to bother her too much... I slept a 
lot, drove home from exchanges, slept some more, slept a little more the next day and then
was completely back to normal. Don't eat at Taco King, kids!
And I really am completely fine!

I love snow. I love snow. I love snow. Did I mention I love snow?
It snowed a glorious amount here in Soldotna! Did I mention it's beautiful? And it snowed. 
Really only a couple inches, but it nigh covered all the things in a iridescent blanket of 
magic. Because snow is magnificently fantastical. And makes everything gorgeous. It also
seems to put a damper on people and their interactions with other humans, but the Lord 
still puts people in our path!

Sheila and Dennis are doing really well! They weren't able to meet with us during the week,
but managed to come to church on Sunday and had a blast. Sheila just wishes there was 
more singing and praising the Lord Almighty! We told her we'd work on that. They are truly 
an example to me of humility - they take everything we say, mull it over, and aren't afraid to
just accept it! It's crazy how willing they are to believe and just love everyone.

Funny River is always an adventure! The people there are so kind and always offer us too 
much food. We get offered a lot of food, actually - if anyone wants some leftovers... The 
wonderful couple that lives out there we've been seeing is actually now gone to Florida, so
they're adorable and happy there. They're actually stopping in Cincinnati on the way down 
to visit her brother in the hospital, so if you see the Neals, let me know! They're cute and old.
Halloween was a fun time! Sister Galli and I dressed up... As each other! It was a fun time. 
We went to a baptism of someone in our neighboring ward that was so fantastic, and met 
tons of nonmembers that were super friendly and interested!

Right afterward was the dual ward Trunk or Treat! It was dark and freezing cold, even at 
6:30. But it was also a blast! We passed out candy and met people. We were glad we had 
to go in at 7, though, because we were able to be warm and listen to conference talks while
doing a puzzle.

The Sabbath truly was a delight yesterday! Focusing on the sacrament and the changes 
you are making in your life, as well as seeking to serve as much as possible, makes all the 
Sister Rollins