Leaving Sevierville was hard and sad as I mentioned last week. The last couple of days were spent saying goodbye and extensive cleaning of the good ol' house. If you are one to be bored with details then I wouldn't suggest reading this!
At transfer meeting one of the departing Sisters, Sister Peck -- who I replaced -- came up to me, hands me the keys, and says, "Your beds have bedbugs, but that's ok!" Then I was "cast out of my garden of eden" and left all the missionaries and members that I love and know so well and got into the car of the members that took us, and we drove all the way up along the Cumberland mountain range, passed our church building (which is really nice), drove through the Cumberland gap tunnel (which was really cool the first time, it felt like Disneyland!), and finally arrived in Middlesboro Kentucky.
Mi companera is Sister Behunin. She is 21, from Bountiful, has never moved away from home before her mission, really loves animals. We have some things that are not in common. She is very quiet, in fact she doesn't enjoy talking to people. She also does not like walking quickly -- at all. But she also is very smart, and has a strong testimony. I'm not going to say that it's all perfect in our companionship -- it'll take some work and patience. But I am excited to work with her and try to help her get out of her shell a little. I can also see that I will have to exercise love and patience and grow in those ways. Please please pray for me to be able to love and be patient!
We live in the heart of this little town. Our apartment is in the upstairs of some window shops. It's actually very spacious -- I realized this is the first time I've ever had my own bathroom! Cool! And I haven't noticed any bed-bugs yet. It is so nice to have our own SPACE though, I feel like I can breathe! OK so walk out of the doors and you see Middlesboro -- old, poverty-stricken, about as hick-town as it gets -- with drugs and crime mixed in. (There are no hispanics that I have heard of - except some Spanish restaurants that apparently exist so I have plans to go visit!) Anywho, the people are poor and very humble! We have many to teach. After my first day of teaching people, I had this moment of awe -- many of these people don't know how to READ! I don't realize how blessed I am. It breaks my heart. But there is plenty of work to do and the field is very white. We have an investigator named Keller who is 22, and so ready. He has some issues to work through, but has already started reading the Book of Mormon and he loves church.
That leads me to another upside, the ward! We go to the Cumberland Gap ward, about 10 minutes away from us down the road in Cumberland Gap, TN. It is a wonderful ward. The church here began with 2 families, and has grown and grown until the local university, Lincoln Memorial University added a Medical School. That attracted all the westerners, and thus the Mormons! So we have an unusually big and strong ward of about 200 people attending each week! It's probably about 2/3 students and 1/3 locals. I enjoy it a lot. The mix of westerners and southerners makes a great diverse ward. They are also willing to help us out.
"LDS Doom" ride at the ward party. how we do here!
We had a ward party when I first got here, chili cook-off. It was super fun! On Saturday Keller came to see a baptism of a young girl in the ward, (that's where the brother took my pic and sent it to you) and then he came to church on Sunday.
Well I have to go but that's the gist of what I wanted to tell you about Middlesboro. Basically some of these people are crazy! And then the members here just make me feel like I'm at home, so it's really an odd mix.
Anywho, I've wasted my time with details. But my spiritual growth even just in the last couple of days has been great. I have reviewed Pres Eyring's talk from Priesthood and Elder Holland's talks from GC and I have learned a lot about love. I really am committed to look at the positive side of all these situations and make the best of it! Love you!
Love Hermana Collier