Snow and Bush Baptism

Monday, October 24, 2016

It snowed this week! Not like snowed, but like snowed snowed. Snow. So much snow. Snow all over the place. It was also freezing cold all week. For our district tract in O'Malley area on Saturday, it was 18 degrees out and it was so cold that I wore thermal tights, thermal leggings, SmartWool socks, gloves, and both layers of my Patagucci parka (that makes me look like a dog mush team driver). I was warmish. Welcome to Alaska. I don't think I'll thaw out for the next 16 months #manyarecalledbutfewarefrozen

I went on exchanges with Sister Richards (my MTC comp) at the beginning of this week in Beach Lake/Chugiak where we ate nasty raw(ish) moose for dinner that a lady made for us (after she shot it with her bow #bossalaskanwomen), then we got barked at by a team of sled dogs and I thought they were going to break through the fence so that was terrifying, then Sister Richards played her harmonica all the way back to Anchorage. Good times. JK, I was about to chuck that thing out the car window onto the highway honestly. 

The Heckels are doing so awesome. They make my heart so happy! We went to dinner at their house the other night, and I was so touched to see the change that has happened to them over the past few months. The Spirit is totally in their home now and you can see how much happier they are. The gospel is a message of happiness, hope, and joy and being able to share that with people has been the neatest experience. November 5th is coming😍

I don't know if I've told y'all about Kaeloni, but she's this super cute little nine year old who lives out in Chignik (Alaskan Bush) that we've been calling and teaching. I had been looking through her teaching record, and found that she had been invited to be baptized back in June but nothing had been done about it and so we taught her about baptism and invited her again to be baptized, she was so excited and said yes! Here's the thing about Bush baptisms, they happen two ways: the person can be baptized by a priesthood holder (either by someone from their village that has the priesthood, Branch President Anderson, or someone else who flies out there with the priesthood) in a river/lake/ocean/glacier water/whatever is out there in the Bush OR they can fly down to Anchorage and be baptized in a font (boring). When we asked her if there was a river or something like that near her house that she could be baptized in, she said yes but that there were usually too many bears for it to be safe #AKprobs So we asked her about getting baptized in Anchorage. Kaeloni told us she and her family weren't coming down to Anchorage for a few years so we asked her to talk with her parents about her wanting to be baptized to see if it could be sooner than that haha. We'll see what happens. Hopefully by Christmas. 

Arthur is another Bush peep, who lives in Naknek. He told us that he was baptized by the elders in Soldotna back in 1980 but no one can find his records so he needs to be re-baptized. We asked him if that was something he wanted to do and he was like, "well, why not?". BOOM! So awesome! He is in a wheelchair and told us that he would be heading to Anchorage in the next few months for some medical check ups so that would be a perfect time for him to be baptized! We are starting over with the missionary discussions with him and so we can prepare him for baptism in the next little bit here. Two Bush Branch investigators [kinda] on date for baptism? Check. I'm so pumped.

Oh! Pastor Steve and his family went to church yesterday!! YASSSS!! He is in the Huffman Ward, so you can email the Huffman sisters about how it went haha. It sounded like it went super awesome though. So that was this week. Real cold. It feel more like Christmas than Halloween up here! Sister McGee went home on Thursday and so that was the saddest thing that ever happened to me, but Sister Ewing is awesome and is catching on really quick! 

Have a super (warm and sunny) week down there in the Lower 48☀️
Love y'all! Peace and blessings. 
Go forth and be awesome. 

xoxo/ Sister Dunlop



Monday, October 17, 2016


I'm just going to be super honest and tell you guys that writing weekly emails is ROUGH. There's so much that happens in a week and so much that I want to share with y'all but it takes a million years to write it all down & I feel like if I share it all with you right now, I won't have anything to talk about when I come home because you'll know it all already and I'll be super boring. I think my first email from Alaska (the one that was like six pages long) took it all out of me before I really even started my mission haha. So here's what happens this week in bullet point form (sorry not sorry)...
  • We took our district photo on Tuesday after our last district meeting before transfers #squadgoals. But now that it's transfers, all of us are about to be shuffled all over Alaska (or sent home if you're Sister McGee) so this photo isn't even accurate anymore. 
  • Sister McGee and I painted "Prayer Rocks" with the Heckels kiddos on Tuesday. They have been having a hard time remembering to pray and so we thought these would help them. Their mom is seriously the Crafting Queen and so it was perfect. I've never seen so many paint colors in my life. Dang Shakira. The Heckels kids are doing so awesome and it's so cool to see their faith grow each week and how far they've come since I met them in September. 
  • Wednesday was seriously a day of miracles #aDisneyWORLDkindofday. It was so cool. We started out by going back and visiting the people that we had tracted into in our Ocean View district tract last week. We met a man named Steve who is exactly like the other Steve (in the Huffman area who is coming to church with his family next week!!) and so that was bizarre. He was really nice and told us that we could come back and teach his family next week sometime. Okay!! Then we met a lady named Erica who's husband Sister Martinez and I had tracted into last weekend. He wasn't very nice when we had met him and told us to go away. As we walked by their house, I remembered talking to him with Sister Martinez, but felt prompted to knock the door anyway. Luckily, his wife Erica answered and he was gone when we knocked. She let us in and we taught her and her brand new daughter, Ella, the Restoration. It was so cool. Follow the promptings of the Spirit folks. 
  • After that, we decided to go visit the Stratton family one last time before Sister McGee goes home. They were home and let us in! Woo! We chatted with them about how things have been going and then they gave us a full grocery bag of freshly picked apples. Fresh fruit is a delicacy in Alaska, I'm serious. It's so good you guys, don't take it for granted! Jen Stratton (the mom) told me that I could come back with my new companion whenever we needed a snack or a bathroom break so hopefully I'll be able to sneak little pieces of the Restoration haha. The Stratton's rock. 
  • Remember Jorene from the Bush last week? Yeah well, she had her little baby girl on Monday! Her name is Rylee Luca. So cutie! She asked Sister McGee and I if she would be able to get a Priesthood Blessing for both her and her baby before they had to travel back to Kwigillingok (the Bush village they live in). But she hadn't answered any of our texts or calls so we had to literally go FBI sister missionary and track her down. We called every hospital in Anchorage looking for her and then we called a bunch of hotels. We eventually were able to find her and went to her hotel that night with the Mayhue's (a senior missionary couple in the AAM that lives right next to us!) and President and Sister Andersen of the Bush Branch. It was cool to hear Elder Mayhue give little miss Rylee Luca a [basically a Father's] Blessing. I think that Jorene and her sweet family are close to being baptized! She told us she wants to recover from her pregnancy and then will get back into the lessons more. Yay we love Jorene!
  • Normally, we have dinner with a member/family from our Ward each night and it always feels like an awkward blind date. Like who are you guys and what are you feeding me? Is this reindeer or bear meat? A bunch of super awesome moms from Ocean View decided to invite us to their "Ladie's Night" at Texas Roadhouse on Wednesday night to wrap up Sister McGee and my #Disneyworldday so that was a huge blessing. It was the best blind date food ever. Those rolls man...
  • By the end of Wednesday, Sister McGee and I had handed out 8 Book of Mormons and it wasn't like handing out Halloween candy where you just open the front door, drop some candy in the kid's plastic pumpkins, and close the door again. It was like honest and real and awesome. Wednesday rocked. 
  • We tracted Huffman on Thursday and Sister Jewel and I met this super cute old lady named Bonnie, who lives in a bright purple house. She told us that she was the author of the Bible and when we asked her how long she has lived in Alaska she told us that "Alaska is a conspiracy theory" and how she's really living in the South and that "the government just wants us to believe we are in Alaska because they keep pulling the wool over our eyes". K cool. Before we left she told us we couldn't come back unless we brought a new husband back for her with us. She asked us to play matchmaker for her. So that was a good experience. Sister Jewel and I made it out okay. You meet one of every kind knocking doors in Alaska. Tracting builds some serious character to say the least. 
  • I went on exchanges with Sister Langford in Campbell Park on Friday. She's only one transfer older than me so it was just another "Babie's Day Out" like last week with Sister Richards. We met a guy named JR and after we gave him a Book of Mormon, I asked him to pinkie promise me that he would pray about it. He did. And pretty much smashed my little tiny baby pinkie in the process. Worth it though. We also somehow lost a hubcap but in reality, I think someone actually stole it off our car while we were out teaching. Campbell Park is way sketch. 
  • Saturday morning, Sister Langford and I went to a Tongan baptism to support Elder Hawkins and Elder Tuimoloau (the Tongan speaking Elders in AK) with a bunch of other missionaries and I was just super confused the whole time. Tongan sounds super cool but it also sounds like they have a mouth full of Tic 
  • This weekend was Stake Conference and a new Stake Presidency was assigned. Elder Hamula and Elder Stapleton of the 70 were up here and it was super cool to hear from them. In the adult session Saturday night, they talked about the process of calling a new Stake President and the importance of the Plan of Salvation. The Plan of Salvation keeps popping up everywhere I go- I teach it tons, it was all over General Conference, and then Elder Hamula talks about it. On Sunday morning, they called the new Stake President (President Esplin) and his councilors to come up and sit on the stand with them. It looked like a long walk from the back of the gym up there haha. Both the outgoing and incoming Stake Presidencies bore their testimonies and then Elder Stapleton and Hamula closed up the meeting with theirs. It's so awesome to see the organization of the Church and how it's directed by God and not by man. 
  • Later on Sunday, we had a Q&A session with Elder Hamula and Elder Stapleton in the Bush Branch and so Sister McGee and I got to go to that and the members of BB could ask them any questions they wanted. It was super cool and they answered all of them. They even asked Sister McGee and I to answer one about how to be better at sharing the gospel haha yay for sister missionaries. I love the Bush Branch and all those experiences I've had serving in that [huge] area. We might have some Bush baptisms coming up in a few weeks - stay tuned and hope that I will get to fly out for them!
  • We had a lesson and dinner at the Barbachano's house with the Heckels and then headed back over to the Stake Center for another Q&A with all the Stake youth. There were probably like 80 kids there. Go Alaska! Again, they were able to ask whatever questions they wanted and so questions came up like, "why can't we date until we are 16?" or "what's your favorite scripture and why?". And then Elder Hamula, was like no seriously, ask me the deep soul searching questions. He didn't really say it like that, but kinda. And then the youth started asking real questions like, "how do I learn to trust in the promptings of the Holy Ghost?" and "how can I grow my faith more in God's will for me?". Way cool. 
  • When we walked out of the Stake Center, it was snowing!! It was like the second or third time Elder Adams (from Louisiana) had ever seen snow before haha and he was so pumped. The Anchorage temple looked so pretty all lit up while it was snowing. Side note: the sun rises at about 9am and sets at 6pm. The days are so short! I know I've said that in like every email, but seriously it keeps getting darker up here! And it's between 20-30 degrees everyday- I'm always cold. 
  • Oh! And we got our transfer calls Thursday night! Guess who's coming in to be my next companion...Sister Ewing! She is coming down from Fairbanks to finish my training this transfer. I have no idea who she is, but I've heard awesome things about her so it should be super fun. I'm also way excited that I get to stay in Ocean View for this next transfer and work on all the dreams, things, people, and plans that Sister McGee & I have going on right now. Ocean View & BB are on fire! Yay!
  • Sister McGee leaves on Wednesday💔😒😳😟😫😪😭😵so if you see me wearing only black for the rest of my mission, it's because I'm mourning her loss. And today is my last full day with her because President Robinson wants me to go on a 24 hour exchange with Sister Richards over in Beach Lake on Tuesday. So I'll have fifteen minutes to say goodbye to Sister McGee in the parking lot before she goes when I pick up Sister Ewing on Wednesday. I'll be a mess. 

So that's pretty much what happened to Sister Dunlop this week. It's just a little bit of everything. Sister Allie Winter is headed off to the Alabama Birmingham mission field this morning. She's going to be so amazing you guys. Alabama better get ready! Thanks for all your emails, letters, photos, prayers, and love. Y'all rock my [Smart Wool] socks. 
Go forth and be awesome. 

xoxox Sister Dunlop

Cheechako Takeover

Monday, October 10, 2016

Time flies when you're having fun. My spirit is so tired and worn out by the end of the night, we just crash in our beds and then get up bright and early the next day and do it all over again. 
I'm exhausted, but this is the greatest adventure. 

Wednesday was the Mission Leadership Council meeting and so Sister McGee and Sister Grieve (the other STL) were gone all day. AKA CHEECHAKO SISTER DUNLOP IS IN CHARGE OF OCEAN VIEW FOR THE DAY WITH HER CHEECHAKO MTC COMPANION SISTER RICHARDS! BOOM! It was crazy and terrifying and so awesome. President Robinson must really trust us haha. 

Normally after morning studies, Sister McGee and I spend an hour doing my missionary training. But because both Sister Richards' and my trainers were both gone, we had to train each other haha- just like the MTC. After that, we went tracting in a neighborhood next to our apartment and met the strangest array of people I've met in a while - a retired man who used to meet with the missionaries until "the boys forgot about him" (elders!), a guy from Florida living in his girlfriend's apt and waits there all day for her to come home from work (we gave him a Book of Mormon and told him he should read it while he waits), a weed delivery driver who told us he wanted to pass our number onto his grandma, a business man named Wes, the USPS lady, and a lot of barking dogs. Yay Alaska. 

After that adventure, we walked back to our apartment and the Huffman sister missionaries came over for lunch. Then we had to run some things to the Mission Office and pick up some pamphlets and stuff for the rest of our week. I got my Alaska driver's license on Tuesday so President LaVoie (the guy in charge of all the cars in the AAM) would let me drive Rhonda around for the day. PS I haven't driven since August and so driving was real weird at first. Don't worry, we were ok. After stopping by the mission office, Sister Richards and I headed over to the church to do some Bush Branch calls. I don't remember if I've ever explained how we do BB lessons before but basically we call the person and have a lesson with them over the phone- discussing, reading scriptures & pamphlets (if they have them from us- sometimes they get lost in the mail in the Bush), praying, and all that stuff we normally do in a face to face lesson. It's just us calling them over the phone from our church parking lot or Young Women's room and them hanging out somewhere in the Bush with sketch cell service. The hard part about the Bush though is that the cell service is so spotty and there's like no internet anywhere ever. So sometimes lessons don't go through. Like on Wednesday, when all of the Bush investigators we had scheduled to have lessons with dropped off the face of the earth. Cool Alaska Bush, cool. We had blocked off an hour to do BB lessons and I didn't know what else we were going to do so I pulled up the list of less active members of the Bush Branch and started randomly calling and checking in on them. One of them was a super nice old man named, Monte, who told us that he had been really sick and his doctors had thought it might be cancer but after doing a lot of tests, they found that he was clear! Yay! Monte then told us that he had been praying about it and he knows that Heavenly Father is there with him every step of the way. We are hopefully going to keep in contact with teaching Monte and work to get him back into full activity in the Church. We also called a lady named Sarah who is a 2nd grade teacher out in the Bush. She told us that she works Monday-Saturday at the school (the Bush has school open on some Saturday's for the library and things like that) and so by Sunday she is so tired and just wants to relax. Luckily for the Bush Branch, you can call in to church on Sunday's from your bed in your sweats and no one would ever know! So we are going to work with her on that. 

Then, we had a lesson scheduled with the Stubbs family but they called and said that their kids were sick so that was cancelled. So Sister Richards and I decided to go back to the neighborhood we had been tracting earlier that morning and finish knocking all of the doors on that street. We had about an hour before we needed to go and teach another lesson and so I knew we didn't have a ton of time. This was kind of a "fourth floor, last door" experience that President Uchtdorf had talked about last weekend in General Conference. So we had about ten minutes until we had to go but felt prompted to go and knock on this dark corner apt door. A super nice lady named Allison opened the door and after explaining to her who we were and what we were doing, she let us right in! We talked to her about the Book of Mormon and taught her about the Restoration of the gospel. She talked to us about how she prays and reads her Bible everyday and how she is wanting her 13 year old daughter to start to build her testimony in those things too. She's been in some other churches before but has never felt like she has found the "right one" yet. She's basically shopping for a church right now. WE HAVE A SUPER GOOD ONE ALLISON, COME AND TRY IT! Sister McGee and I are planning to go and visit with her later this next week. So cool. "Fourth floor, last door" is REAL all you fellow missionaries out there. Don't give up. 

Sister Richards and I went to go and teach our newest convert, Jason. He's moving down to Utah in November and we talked to him about eternal families and temples. It's cool to hear him talk about his goals for the temple. Temples are so awesome. Then we had dinner and drove over to the Mission Office to exchange back with our trainers. In summary, the cheechakos taking over Oceanview was successful. Go team. 

Other things that happened this week: Sister McGee and I trained at Zone Meeting, we found a less active member in our ward who runs a waffle food truck called Sugarhouse Waffles and is super cute, we met one of our BB investigators in REAL LIFE Saturday night because she came down to the valley to have a baby and so we were able to meet with her before she heads to this hospital later this week (before we left, she said a prayer in Yupik and it was SUPER COOL), the Heckels are doing awesome and the oldest daughter just got called to be the first counselor in the Beehive class of YW and she's so excited about it, and Sister McGee only has like ten more days on her mission so there's been some packing and crying. So crazy. 

The overall theme for fast and testimony meeting Sunday was missionary work which was really cool because Sister McGee and I have been working hard to get the Oceanview Ward excited about missionary work. They're kinda in a "lull" right now and so hopefully this meeting got them stoked about the work here. There's tons of missionary work here in this area and there are tons of people prepared to hear the gospel, Oceanview just needs to help us find them. 
"Every member a missionary" right??

On Thursday night, President Robinson will be calling us with transfer calls! It feels just like getting my mission call all over again - terrifying but awesome. Sister McGee flies back home to Utah next Wednesday so I will be getting a new trainer to finish up the last six weeks of my training. I'm pretty sure I'll be staying in Oceanview, but we will have to see on Thursday. It's scary because I feel like Sister McGee has been the perfect trainer and perfect fit for me. I've learned so much from her and am so inspired by her. It makes me sad she's leaving me and that I have to kill off my first companion but I'm excited for her to go and be a real human again with her cute family!

Sorry for the rando assortment of photos this week, it was a bit insane. 
Anyways, I love y'all. 
Go forth and be awesome. 

XOXOXO Sister Dunlop
Saw the paw print, but not the bear
Autumn leaves. Road. Train tracks. Low tide beach. Ocean. Snow-capped mountains. Alaska.

Invite People to Be Baptized & You'll See Moose

Monday, October 3, 2016

I've heard that with missions, the days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days...THIS IS SO TRUE! I feel like I've been on a mission for a million years but at the same time it feels like I just got kicked to the curb at the MTC haha. We seriously get so much done and jam pack every week. Woo! So here's some of this week in Alaska...

On Wednesday afternoon, the sister missionaries serving in Soldotna came up and we did double exchanges with them in Oceanview. President Robinson decided that it would simplify our lives (and put less mileage on our car, Rhonda) if Soldotna came up and worked in Oceanview and then they could stay the night with us before Sister's Training Meeting on Thursday morning. Sister McGee and Sister Williams (Soldotna) took half of our investigators to teach that day and then Sister Gardner (other Soldotna) came with me to teach the others. Honestly, it was kinda terrifying to be in charge but Sister McGee goes home in two weeks *tears* and so I'll be taking over Oceanview anyways pretty soon- depending on transfer calls. Scary. 

For our first appointment, Sister Gardner and I went and met with the Heckel kids and I taught them about the Restoration. When I was in the MTC, I didn't like teaching the Restoration to our investigators because I felt like there was so much information packed into the discussion that it would just overwhelm those we taught. PSYCH! IT'S FREAKING AWESOME! Each point of the Restoration aligns with our message as missionaries that we are children of our loving Heavenly Father & that He still speaks to us in the latter-days and has given us the restored Gospel in its fullness! It's the coolest, happiest, greatest, and most amazing message the world has ever known! And I get to share it all the time! At the end of the lesson, I invited each of the kids to be baptized. AND THEY SAID YES!! I was so excited, I started tearing up and gave all the kids the best high fives ever. So there you go, the Heckel kids are getting baptized! SO PUMPED! Side note: a couple of days ago, I complained to Sister McGee that I'd been in Alaska for a month and hadn't seen any wildlife yet. But, the day I invited three people to be baptized, I saw three moose. It's a sign. Invite people to be baptized and you'll see moose. Heavenly Father's sneaky like that, haha!

Thursday was our mission's Sister's Training Meeting (we ate Halibut Lasagna there and it was nasty I thought we were all going to die - I also ate reindeer this week, another scary food moment for Sis. Dunlop in Alaska). STM is so cool because all of the sister missionaries in the Alaska Anchorage mission get to be there, either in person in Anchorage or we Skype them from Fairbanks and Juneau. Technology is cool. Sister McGee and I had planned some of STM with President and Sister Robinson and decided to base it off the scripture, 2 Nephi 5:27, that talks about living "after the manner of happiness". We wanted to build a STM that made the sister missionaries leave feeling happy and stoked about missionary work and knowing that they can do it! We opened the training by showing clips of some of the sisters opening their mission calls. Sister McGee and I seriously had the exact same reaction when we read, " are assigned to labor in the ALASKA ANCHORAGE mission..." haha, of course. But we wanted the sisters to remember that joy, faith, and excitement that they had had when they opened their calls and we wanted them to re-implement that into their lives and work as missionaries right now. We are living our dreams! Then we watched Kid President's Pep Talk (because it's my favorite) and talked about finding joy in the journey and shared with the other sisters our inspiration to have every day on our mission be a "Disneyland Day". It was probably the happiest STM in the history of ever #TheRedsareonfire

On Friday night, we had a little bit of time before we needed to head back to our apartment and while we were planning the night before, I had felt really strongly that we needed to plan to go and visit a less-active member of our ward, Wanda, some time soon. We drove over to her house and had been knocking for a few minutes before she opened the door. Wanda was in her bathrobe and jammies and her eyes were wet with tears. "You're seven minutes late," she whispered between sobs. We were very confused what she meant by this but she let us into her house and we went on to find out that her daughter had passed away one year and seven minutes ago tonight. You could say that us knocking on her door that night was a "coincidence". But Sister McGee has taught me never to believe in "coincidences". As missionaries on the Lord's errand, we are directed to those He wants us to meet. I have no doubt that Heavenly Father needed us to be with Wanda that night; ESPECIALLY that night. We shared with her the joyous message of the Plan of Salvation and that she would be able to be with her daughter again. THE PLAN OF SALVATION IS SO REAL YOU GUYS! This wonderful and amazing Plan makes it so that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father again and be with our families forever! Wanda then went on to tell us about other trials her family is facing right now and all this crazy stuff she's going through. She's a trooper. Before we left, she handed us Ziploc bags to fill with candy and then sent us with 40 pro-biotic juice drinks that she wanted us to give to all of the Elders haha. We love Wanda. 

This weekend we (all 14ish missionaries in Anchorage) watched all the sessions of General Conference at the Stake Center, right next to the Anchorage Alaska temple. It was so cool to walk out of conference (into the freezing cold rain) and see the temple right there! One bummer of Alaska though (there's only one) was that conference was on at 8am and noon instead of 10am and 2pm. It was rough, honestly. But there's a super awesome family in the Stake that makes breakfast for all of the Anchorage missionaries before the Sunday morning session, so at least we got pancakes as a reward for waking up super early. But can we talk about how amazing General Conference was this weekend?! IT WAS FIRE! SO GOOD! And it was like all about missionary work! I loved Elder Oaks & Elder Andersen & Elder Hales' pep talks about missionary work. They rock. Missionary work rocks! I also especially loved when they talked about how missionaries go out to convert people to the GOSPEL, not to the Church. A mission is SO NOT about baptismal stats. It's about bringing people JOY! 
That's all I've got for y'all this week. Go back & listen to conference because it's so good! Go forth and be awesome. 

XOXOX Sister Dunlop
conference morning pancakes
Anchorage area sisters
Letter from Grandma Charlotte
Selfie with a moose :)