Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Giddy all night, life felt very fragile, the miracle of Tom and Ting, what is real

Thank you, Sister Huang!

January 26, 2015

Sister Worthen and me "killing" Sister Huang -- 
missionary slang for being the final companions for 
a missionary when she completes her mission
Dear family and friends,

Giddy all night
I experienced my first transfer call last night. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but my companion and I had been nervous all week.

Sister Huang went home yesterday. I'm so proud of her! She served a great mission and now she's back with her family in Taiwan.

But that left Sister Worthen and me... and we get along so well we really didn't want to be separated! We also absolutely love this area, all our investigators, and everyone in our ward so we really didn't want to move to a different area. We finished our planning and gave our report at 9 am, so we expected them to get back to us quickly about where we'd be going.

When it takes a long time, that usually means you're leaving because it takes a long time for them to figure out the information of where/when you'll be getting picked up, etc. 

silly goodbyes

Our phone didn't ring until 9:45 am.  So at this point we started to get a bit nervous and started thinking that maybe we were being transferred. 

But it turns out we're staying in Moscow!!! (So it will be just Sister Worthen and me in the apartment:)

We were giddy all night.

We stayed up super late talking and we couldn't fall asleep because we were so happy.

But everyone else in our district is leaving so that part is kind of sad :(

Goodbye district!
Life felt very fragile
I'm not sure how, but I totally forgot to share about this last week! It was a super intense event. Last week, new missionaries and their trainers all drove to Spokane for a training meeting. So our trio went and it was a really good meeting. One of the things I remembered was President Mullen said something along the lines of "Coincidences are really just miracles people don't give God credit for." I was thinking about this on the car ride home. 

I had just woken up from a nap when a minute later, this huge car crash takes place literally right in front of us. I don't think I had ever witnessed an accident like that before. I can't remember exactly what happened--just that it was really scary. In that moment, life felt very fragile.

Somehow 3 cars all collided and one of them flipped and went flying at least 60 feet away all the way down a hill on the side of the highway. We immediately pulled over and it was my first time calling 911-- so that was exciting!

I just remember how amazed I felt that it wasn't us. It very easily could have been! Sister M. was driving us home and she was in a rush to take her daughter to her dance class, so the entire drive she had sort of been passing people and speeding up. If we had been literally one car ahead, or even 10 feet closer, it would have been us in the accident. Especially because it's an hour and a half drive, it doesn't seem like any maneuver will make that much of a difference, but if she had been going even 2 mph faster, we would have been hit. I'm not sure why those 3 cars got hit. We don't have all the answers, not even missionaries! 

Heavenly Father loves his missionaries.  He was watching out for us.
But I do know that Heavenly Father loves his missionaries and that He was watching out for us. 
Never before had I felt such love and protection. The missionary shield is real! I felt it that night for sure. God is so good to us! I know He loves each of His children.

The miracle of Tom and Ting
Our investigator Ting was baptized last Saturday! It was such a sweet experience. Any baptism is, but the backstory makes this especially neat. 

Ting and Tom have been married about 10 years. Tom has been a military guy all his life. He served in Iraq and other places for much of his life. I won't go into the graphic descriptions that he gave us, but basically he's seen a lot of things. Horrible things -- the type you don't really think exist in the world, except you've heard of it before, but then it turns out they really are true.

He's the type who has a hard shell and was very, very angry with the world for a long time because of the things he experienced and the type of injuries that happened to him while serving. All of this led to a certain type of living that does not bring happiness. Basically, go down the list of all the commandments and he has broken each one of them. He wasn't in a good place. 

One night he was out with his friends and one of them suggested that he put his profile up on a dating website because he had just gone through a divorce. Because he was so drunk, he agreed. The next day, he had 97 requests and so he sent a message to all of them saying "I'm dirt poor. I'm working 2 jobs. If you're looking for a marriage to get into this country or a marriage for money, look somewhere else." Of all the 97, one person wrote back the next day. Ting. 
New life

She was in China looking for love like him. They dated online and decided to get married. This was a hard process to get visas and such because he found out he had to go to Iraq for 2 more years. So Tom flew to China, they got married, she came home with him, then he returned back to Iraq. She didn't know any English at all and lived with her mother-in-law in Idaho until he came back 2 years later. 

With Ting, he started turning his life around. Fast forward years and years, the missionaries met Ting. She agreed to take the missionary lessons, she came to know the gospel was true, and agreed to get baptized.

We've been meeting with her every week since I arrived here and she is so great! She has so much faith. But she's also incredibly shy and anxious. She has the quietest voice you've ever heard! I have never met a couple that is more different. But they're so happy together and so good to each other. 

Every time we went over, Tom played his video shooting games while we talked to Ting in the kitchen. Each time we invited him to join us, or turn down the TV, but he always said no. I thought he had no interest whatsoever. But while we were helping Ting try on her baptismal clothes, Tom mentioned that he would be the one baptizing her. I was so shocked! 

This man has not set foot in a church for 27 years. I have heard his stories of how he has forsaken God over and over again in the middle of the desert.  But it turns out he has spent a lot of time trying to make things right in his life again. 

What is real
The Atonement is real. Forgiveness and change are real. It was such a good reminder to me that we never know what people are going through. I had no hope for Tom. I thought he was a nice guy, but I thought he would never be interested. But we never know what's going on inside someone's head. 

I didn't know he was reading his scriptures every day and spending hours on his knees begging God for forgiveness of all the things he had done. I know Heavenly Father sent Ting to Tom. 

I know Heavenly Father is merciful and that He loves us and that this is His work. This was a miracle and would not have worked any other way, if any one thing had been different. 

If Sister Huang had not been here, if nobody had approached Ting, or if she had taken the discussions in English, this never would have worked out. 

It was beautiful to see Tom baptize his wife and the Spirit was so strong. I'm so excited for their new life! I can't wait to see what else is in store for them :) 

Love to you!
Sister Hancock
the volleyball squad

Mexican dinner with Sister Randall

Thank you for this dress in my Christmas box :)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Blitz, snoring, panda-monium, 42 days

Celebrating Sister Huang's birthday with "Panda" hats
January 21, 2015

Dear loved ones,

Such a good week!!! 

Visit to McConnell Mansion,
a Victorian home built in Moscow in 1886 
I'm loving my mission right now. Things are so fun now because I finally know the area and I know the people and that makes the biggest difference. I always heard this would happen but I'm really starting to notice it now. 

Boy do I love my investigators! They're all so great and I'm so proud of them! Each one of them has something unique to teach me. 

We had a blitz last week. These are super fun! Basically we meet with all the missionaries who are serving in Moscow and go around campus and contact for about an hour and a half. It's fun going up and talking to strangers and just talking about deep things or religion about them. 

We met one guy named Roger from Brazil, and at the end we asked if we could say a prayer with him. He said it in Portuguese and it was such a sweet experience. At the end of the prayer I opened my eyes and his hands were reaching out to us because apparently he had been waiting for us to hold his hands the entire prayer. He also had his glasses off to wipe his face which had tears running down it. It's wonderful being able to meet such sweet people and to share powerful experiences with them! 

This is also where the hard part about missionary work comes in. We had an appointment with him, but he totally flaked. We texted him several times but we never heard from him and that can be disappointing for sure, seeing so obviously that they felt something and yet then life moves on and they become too busy to want to change anything. But I'm still grateful for that special experience we shared with him.

This week I'm sharing lots of photos--enjoy!

trying on hats at McConnell Mansion
Salads at Winger's
Funny story from this morning: Sister Huang is quite the snorer! We've laughed about this all transfer. It seriously is so loud! Sister Worthen and I so often will be up together in the middle of the night, banging the wall to try and get her to roll over so it will be quiet enough for us to fall back asleep. 

Last night I remember hearing "Sister Hancock" in the middle of the night, so I woke up and sure enough the snoring is super loud. Turns out Sister Worthen was having a dream that a baby was crying but was confused because when she woke up she still heard the baby crying. She rolled over and found out it was Sister Huang's snoring. Sure enough it really did sound like a baby crying! 

Pandas everywhere!
Birthday Panda-monium 
It was Sister Huang's birthday! We had quite the birthday celebrations. 

Because she is obsessed with anything pandas, we had tons of pandas that day! 

The elders were in charge of buying party decorations so it would be a surprise for her, so they got Mickey Mouse hats since apparently the ears look like panda ears? And they forgot glasses, so we each drank from a huge pitcher.

Sister Huang's party

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We had a dinner appointment with the Hills and for dessert they made brownies shaped into a panda and we ate the whole pan :)  Then we had dessert at the Daltons and they also made her a panda cake! 



Chinese dinner at the Kailais
When we had another dinner appointments with the Funakis, Sister Funaki made a cake masterpiece--all homemade...even the pandas.  Seriously incredible.  Another night we ate a delicious Chinese dinner at the Kailais.  The ward members really do spoil us :)

42 days
Our whole mission will be reading the Book of Mormon, starting next transfer.  Our goal is to read it in 42 days. Joseph Smith translated it in about 65 working days.  Our study questions include: Could a man make this up? Or is this revelation from God, written by prophets and translated by a prophet for us today?  It's 13 pages a day--totally doable.  I invite you all to join!  

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Feels like home, Not in Palo Alto, the temple, favorite things, Zulema

"I'm adjusted to life here in Moscow. It feels like home now."
January 12, 2015

Dear loved ones,

Sounds like Sri Lanka was incredible! Can't believe Mom and Sterling decided to go there with Channing and Spencer so last minute :) I'm sure it was an awesome time together. 

Feels like home now
Today I bought a jump rope. I thought you would be happy to know that.... you're right for sure that I need to step up my cardio game so hopefully this will help! Thanks family for the Christmas package! So much fun!!! The TJs goodies have already been devoured. And even though you sent enough almonds with my district in mind, I've been enjoying them all by myself! Each morning I have greek yogurt with granola, chia seeds, almond, and banana so it's been perfect. Today I even switched to unsweetened yogurt (I had to make gradual changes) so hopefully I like it!

Another good week! I'm now adjusted to life here in Moscow. It feels like home now.


"For chia pets?"
Not in Palo Alto
I was at the grocery store and asked one of the workers where the chia seeds were and he looked at me and laughed. I just stared back at him in silence, so he realized it was an honest question. He responded "Chia seeds? As in for chia pets?" I felt like Dorothy when she realized she wasn't in Kansas anymore. Luckily he was able to find them and it turns out they're way cheaper than at home! But I said in my head "Sinclaire, you're not in Palo Alto anymore."

Going to the temple
We went on exchanges again and so the companion who has been in Moscow practically her whole mission and knows everyone and their dog was gone for the day. It was me and Sister Worthen left and neither of us knew the area at all. So when looking at a map, we thought two of our appointments were a lot closer together than they really were. Long story short, we walked for an hour and a half to get to the Tyler's apartment, but we made it eventually. And it was definitely worth it! They were baptized a year ago and are going to the temple to be sealed this month. They invited us but unfortunately we didn't get permission to go but I'm so so excited for them! 

Spokane, Washington Temple
One of my favorite things
We meet with the Sipes every week. He was baptized less than a year ago, and they're both only 19. Our job is to strengthen them and help them prepare to go to the temple. They're so close but they need to keep making changes but I know they can do it! I love them so much! They have so much faith and they're such deep thinkers. Each time we go over, we have Family Home Evening with them and then read a chapter in the Book of Mormon together, wherever they are in their reading. This has become one of my favorite things because we have such great discussions and they have awesome insights. I can feel the Spirit so strongly in their home and they're so awesome! 

The elders were on exchanges last week, so Elder Castlemain and Elder Hill were together. I wish you knew them so this story would make so much more sense! But Elder Castlemain is a zone leader and has been out for a long time and is very confident. Elder Hill is newer and but it was his turn being the senior companion, so he had to call the shots and do the talking and initiate everything while street contacting. 

"Some people are just different
and have a peace about them...."
They said a prayer and got started and felt prompted to walk a certain direction, so they did. Another important detail: it's been incredibly foggy lately. The type like in China where you can't see 20 feet in front of you. The type that I thought only existed in the movies! Like I thought they were using special effects in Vampire Diaries, but it turns out this weather really exists in some places! 

Anyway, it's eerie and creepy looking and just looks like a dreary wasteland! So they're walking and they see this girl up in the distance, so Elder Hill starts doing this bear run thing that he does and yells "hey!" to the girl. Her response: "This is kind of creepy..." probably because it's night time and these two boys are chasing after her and she can hardly see anything and one of them is waving his arms out at her. 

But long story short, her name is Zulema and she's a student. She has so much faith! The elders referred her to us (luckily she agreed to meet with the missionaries again) and we met with her for the first time last night. 

She said now that she's growing up and becoming more responsible, she's looking for a bigger picture and a deeper meaning to life. She notices that when she gets to know people, some people are just different and have a peace about them, like they have everything figured out. She then made the connection that these people she has known all happen to have a belief in Christ. 

She said she makes that same walk everyday and has probably walked that path hundreds of times, but that she has never run into those elders before so she believes it was for a reason. Missionary translation: she's GOLDEN! 

We met with her in her apartment last night and the conversation flowed so naturally. Maybe because she's 21, but I felt like I was talking to a friend. I love her so much already! She's such a wonderful person and I'm so glad she wants to learn more. I'm so excited to be able to teach her!


That's most of the exciting things for this week. Hope everyone is doing well! Miss you all! And my next P-day will be Wednesday of next week because we're going to the temple.

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

Sunday, January 11, 2015

New Year's Eve, gratitude yoga, Finn and Daya, tracting for the first time

January in Moscow, Idaho

Happy New Year :)

It was another good week! 


New Year's Eve
On New Year's Eve, we practically invited ourselves over to our Bishop's house. Everyone told us he has an awesome house with a touch screen that dims the lights so we were curious to see it! We were allowed to watch a movie, so we needed to find a member's house to go to anyway, so it worked out perfectly. We showed up and his wife answered the door and told us it was actually his birthday. We felt so bad! But we had a great time eating lots of delicious food and talking and watching "17 Miracles".

Inline image 2
Dancing on New Year's Eve. Just kidding.
We were asleep by 10:15 pm :
Gratitude Yoga
On New Year's day one of our investigators invited us to a gratitude yoga class, so we thought it would be nice to go and support her. She and her boyfriend (Finn & Daya) have been meeting with the missionaries since August and they both work at a yoga studio. We were told it would be 45 minutes...or an hour at the most. 

I loved hearing her thoughts and learning about the type of philosophy she has her training in. It made me happy because there were definitely religious undertones and she was basically bearing testimony to her entire yoga class! 

But after that we had some nice stretching time and did several poses and then came the last part of the class--the relaxation part. This is has always been my favorite, when they dim the lights and you get to lie down on the mat bundled in a blanket in what I call "corpse pose" aka everyone falls asleep to the soothing yoga instructor's voice. Daya then started describing each body part. Literally every body part! "Picture the big toe. Now think of the bone. Think of the tendon. Picture the nail perfectly comfortable in the nail bed..." Then she moved to the next toe. Then she repeated each toe on the left foot! 

Inline image 1

I imagine she then moved to the ankle, the calf, the quad, the elbow, the wrist, the arms, stomach, heart, head, face, shoulders, etc. but I wouldn't know. My companions and I didn't even make it to the end of the toes on the right foot. But by the time we woke up and class was over, we walked out and realized we had been in there for 2 1/2 hours. That was a fun start to the new year!

Finn and Daya
Daya was out of town, so we were able to just teach Finn one day last week. We had the lesson at the Gillette's home which was the perfect setting. Finn can connect with Brother Gillette a lot and it is so helpful to have a member also bear testimony and share personal experiences of the things we are teaching about. 

Daya has been ready to be baptized for months now, but Finn has still been skeptical for a long time. He has trouble understanding the nature of God and feeling like he has a relationship with Him. But this lesson was incredible! It's amazing how strong the Spirit was even though there were loud babies running around everywhere. 

Finn actually started crying at the end of the lesson and I know he's grown so much in the last few months. He's now such a loving and accepting person and they're an incredible couple! They're not yet married, but we heard that Finn was ring shopping earlier this month, so hopefully they will get married soon and then be baptized! He still has not agreed to be baptized but he said he would start praying about whether he should pray for a date, so I'll just be happy with that for now! 

Tracting for the first time
I went tracting for the first time! This is when you go door to door and have Gospel conversations with people to see if they're interested in learning more. It was surprisingly fun! I thought people might be rude and that it would be scary, but everyone was friendly and willing to talk to us. Nobody let us in to hear more, but they each talked to us for at least 20 minutes on their door step about their beliefs and it was a really interesting experience. 

Hope everyone had a great week! Love you all!

Sister Hancock