All last week I was ignoring the fact that my half-way mark was coming up because I refuse to acknowledge that eventually I have to go back to the real world. As we're walking to check the mail, Sister Xiong says, "Isn't our halfway mark tomorrow?" As I'm reaching in to grab our packages I say, "No, that's definitely not for another several weeks," (or months, or years, or never). At the same time I pull out a giant box that says "Happy Hump Day! You're Halfway Done!" It was a harsh (but super sweet and loving and wonderful and AWESOME parental) reminder that my mission is going by so much faster than I want it to. But if all it takes to get a big box of cookies and treats is do what I love everyday, bring on the mile-marker celebrations! The not so great surprise for the day included getting a call from the APs telling us we had to pack up our whole apartment and move out by the next day. So we moved with a one day notice into a ratchet elders ghetto apartment in Frogtown. The smell is pretty rank, and we tried to do our best to give it the sister's touch and douse it in Febreeze, but it's not much of an improvement. The elders technically didn't live in their area boundaries, and since we don't have any, they thought it would be more mile effective if we switched. It's SO QUIET without roommates...I forgot how boring living alone was! Except it's literally impossible to be bored with Sister Xiong, so we're making the most of it...who knew cleaning out 4 years worth of dirty fridge leftovers and elder's toilets could be an adventure?
Remember when I was left alone in Hmong work and had to teach people relying solely on the gift of tongues? One of those people was an investigator named Tais Ci. Last week we went by to visit her again, only this time with Sister Xiong, and the first thing she said was "I've decided I want to be baptized." It was so cool! She said she'd been praying and thinking about our last lesson, and she knew it was the right thing to do. She had her baptismal interview yesterday, and she's set to be baptized next Saturday! Woohoo! Fun fact: she's a Shaman ritual leader, so in order to leave her religion, her new ecclesiastical leader (aka the branch president, President Ertel) has to come take down her relics and do some ritual thing. Kuv tsis paub, kuv tsis yog Hmoob. He's so adorable, he got really giddy and said "So what do I do, I just go rip it down? Is that not rude? I don't want to do it wrong! But this is exciting!" He's Mikas too...us white people get excited about stuff like this. #missionhighlights
We spent all of last Thursday with Tais Kia, one of my favorite grandmas in the branch. Saying she's blunt would be the understatement of the century, but lemme tell you, that G-ma is EFFECTIVE. We took her with us to see some investigators and less-actives, and her motto in life is: "Have your crap together". So she fire and brimstone preacher-ed them into getting their lives back in order and making God a priority. Backstory on Tais Kia: she was one of the first Hmong people baptized into the church back in the 80's when the first flood of Hmong refugees came from Thailand. She is the most dedicated member I know, and will do all she can to help you get on her level. She's F-A-I-T-H-F-U-L.
Yesterday at church we taught the Young Women alllll about dating! The YW teacher called us the day before and said she couldn't make it, so she told us the lesson outline and gave us free reign! It was super trunky, but it was really fun to go over the dating standards we have and why we follow them. Commandments are there to protect us, not limit our fun! All the YW are pretty blunt (mini-Tais Kia's) so the lesson turned into a full-blown conversation on chastity. I think the problem with asking "What are the limits?" is that it implies wanting to get as close to the edge as possible without falling over. Which is dangerous, because when we teeter on the line of sin, all it takes is a little nudge for us to fall over. Remembering to be a disciple of Christ, even while dating, is a big protection that blesses not only us, but our future marriage and families.
Alrighty, this is getting a little long, so I'll wrap up. But I love you all! Shoutout to my family: you guys are the best, I love you more than anything!!!! Love, Sister Bret