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Weekly from Wasilla 9/18/17

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hello beautiful people who I love so dearly. Hope you know how much I adore and appreciate you guys, I seriously have the greatest support crew in the whole world #beyondblessed. Today is insane because long story short, I have to drive Sister Pike down to Anchorage tonight and we are staying the night there and then I'm dropping her off early early early Tuesday morning at the airport to fly to Juneau and then I am trioing it up with Sister Johnson and her trainee, Sister Willden, in Jewel Lake for the day and then will pick up my new companion, Sister Yeates, from Juneau later that evening and then she and I will drive up to Wasilla that night and go to work! I guess that totally gave away transfer calls...oopsies. The Alaska Anchorage mission takes pride in it's transfer logistics of pure insanity I guess.

This week we had to take our Jeep (yeah, I'm still driving the mom car Jeep of the AAM #godunlop) (her name is Whitney) in to get an oil change and some repairs so we had to call the Colony sisters and let us ride around in their back seat with them for the day. Bless. I love those girls. We went tracting and found this awesome Christian family and the mom is the director of a hip hop dance crew and they're the sweetest people. Hopefully Colony can start teaching them! Then we went and helped one of their investigators with some yard work (in our skirts #classysisters) in the pouring rain so we got super muddy but luckily our Jeep was eventually done so we could drive back to Wasilla and change before dinner.

We had to be in Anchorage at 8am on Wednesday morning for that big six zone conference thing with Elder and Sister Foster that I told y’all about last week. We had to get up so freaking early and meet our zone at the Stake Center to caravan down there. There were SO many missionaries at that meeting in Anchorage. I mean like not really because our mission is only like 180 missionaries anyways and that’s not even that big and not even all of them were there but it's just been a hot sec since I've seen more that fourteen missionaries I guess. The meeting was really good #duh. Remember how I said that President Toone told us how he volunteered our mission to be a test mission for some of these new and big things coming to missionary work in the next six months? Yeah, well we are already starting it. That’s how much faith President Toone has in us. He tells us three weeks ago that something huge is coming in six months and three weeks later he has us doing it. We don't know all the details of it yet but he called it "online proselyting" and how it has to do with Facebook. Idk stay tuned because it should be really freaking amazing and awesome. After the meeting, they ordered pizza because everyone was hungry after sitting and listening forever (it was good, but sometimes missionary
meetings are hecka long) but then the AAM doctor pulled the Wasilla and Soldotna zones aside and made all of us go and get flu shots because we live so far out that this was going to be the only time for us to get them. So we wait a hundred and a half billion years in this Disneyland long line doing paper work and all this to get a shot (the guy doing the shots was a member from the Mt. Baldy Ward so that was awkward/funny/bonding) and then...they're out of pizza and all the other missionaries had left. What. Doesn't everyone know that like half the reason why these giant missionary meetings are so awesome is because you get to see your mission homies?! Dang it. But they ordered another few pizzas for us that we inhaled before getting back on the road and driving a thousand miles back to Wasilla. I made Sister Pike stop at the Yogurt Lounge (Sister McGee's and my guilty pleasure back in my Oceanview training days 1+ year ago) for some pistachio froyo #sorrynotsorry.

Zone leaders sent out a text Thursday morning calling for "dope Zone lunch" at noon so we got our favorite sandwiches from Freddie's and then headed over to the Wasilla Stake Center. The thing about being the only sisters in the zone is that whenever we get together as a zone, we just feel surrounded by a freshman football team. Y'all a bunch of crazies. Then they wanted to try that Human Knot thing and it took them forever and a day to figure it out and eventually Sister Pike and I had to coach the poor kiddos. We went and visited the Evans, a recent convert couple, who have the kindest hearts in the whole world. They made us these necklaces with healing stones (like jade and hematite) in them and are making us these raw diamond stud earrings #bigfan. Then we went and visited Bobby (a returning less active blind and deaf bull rider old man with a "tumbleweed heart”) and are helping him prepare to go to the temple so we are working on helping him do some family history work but he just chats our ears off so our efforts usually just end up in up sneaking in a little gospel here and there. Killer.

On Friday, the Willow elders called and asked us to come and help them with some service at this lady's house. I thought that nothing could ever top some of those things we did up in Fairbanks, but this one ranks pretty high up there. It was bad. This lady and her husband and their two year old daughter literally live in a dump. It's so gross but they don't even seem to care that much. The whole things reeks like soggy wet garbage that's been sitting there for a few years just waiting for the zombie apocalypse to happen some time soon. Like burning plastic and molding Big Macs and old gasoline and just garbage. Garbage. Don't stand downwind or you'll hate you life #wateringeyes. There's more than twenty one (yes, I counted) old cars just sitting around their lot also waiting for the zombie apocalypse apparently. They live in a little tin trailer surrounded by piles of random stuff. I don't understand hoarding but I've met a billion and a half hoarders in Alaska. So for "service" they had us move some of the piles from one end of the lot and put them over in another pile of stuff. The stuff we carried was dripping all over the place as we walked back and forth. So. Nast. We were there for almost three hours and we just shuffled piles of trash around. Probs never going back there again. They need some serious help. Or like a dump truck. Or to move. I would move.

Transfer calls. Sisters usually get them Thursday night but President Toone was busy hosting Elder and Sister Foster this week so he called us on Friday night #thesuspensewaskiller. But like I said, Sister Pike is heading down to Juneau and Sister Yeates is coming up here (from Juneau lolzies) to serve in Memory Lake with me. I'm really excited to serve with her. She's from Idaho and is a new missionary and so that will be super fun. The curse of transfers is as soon as you hang up with President from calls, everything becomes a hot mess mad dash; packing, getting the apartment ready, saying goodbye to people, re-scheduling lessons and appointments, planning the week, cleaning out records, and all that stuff. But somehow it just all falls together #churchistrue. Also, it's insane that I only have three more transfers after this. Being a missionary just feels like normal and ordinary life now. It feels like this is what I'll be doing for the rest of my life, just cruising through Alaska knocking on random people's doors to tell them about how awesome Jesus Christ is and then
having a blind dinner dates every night and just being cold all the time; it's freaking fab. I love being a missionary!

A treasure trove moment of my mission: being able to go down to the Anchorage temple with Sister Fa'anunu and be there for the Luke family's sealing. Sister Fa'anunu and I taught Aaliyah back in February and then they invited us to come to their sealing on Saturday. I absolutely love the Luke family. It was so special you guys. I feel like I can't even adequately describe it. But it was such a blessing and tender mercy to be able to be there and feel of Heavenly Father's love and the Spirit there in that little Anchorage Alaska temple sealing room. Just being able to sit in that room…that is what the gospel is all about. It's about joy. This life is about so much more than just these little day to day things that we get ourselves all tangled up in sometimes. I'm so grateful for eternal families and for the gospel that allows us to grow and progress and learn and love together. God is so good.

Alaska moment for you: we pulled into Bishop Bowen's driveway for dinner on Sunday night and they were like, "hey sisters, look what’s in the garbage back in the back of our truck," da da da okie dokie maybe it's candy or something...IT WAS A GIANT BLOODY MOOSE HEAD! Sister Pike almost threw up haha. It stankkk. Remember how Elder Oaks talked about his cousin having the "road kill coordinator" calling in her ward up in Alaska at my farewell? That's still a legit calling in the Church up here. Parks and Rec has this list you can sign up on where if a moose or bear or some other game gets hit by a car and they have to let it go, they will call you and you have like twelve hours to come and pick it up #freedinner #normalalaskathings #skinninganimalsonthesideofthefreeway. So yep, there's a picture of me with a nasty moose head to finish out this weekly-you're welcome.

Actively be yourself. Lift where you stand. Spread love. Be sparkly, be grand. Kick butt and take names. Smile. Remember whose you are. You can do hard things. You're loved.

XOXO Sister Dunlop

Wasilla 9/11/17

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

This last week: It was Elder McGee's birthday last Monday and so our whole zone went out to lunch at the Trout House and Sister Pike and I (the STRAIGHT UP MOMS of this zone full of elders) planned this whole elaborate birthday celebration. It was freaking sick. We love parties, but mostly planning them. We made him this for realz birthday cake-not like a box cake but like a legit cake cake #gosisters-topped with nineteen trick candles. Trick candles are fun for like five candles, not nineteen but we didn't really realize that until it was too late. Oops. We smoked up the whole restaurant but in all reality, this restaurant was like a bar with fourteen missionaries, a bunch of old local dudes, and some tourists inside. No biggie. Everyone even sang "happy birthday" with us. Alaska man, I love it. We also made Elder McGee this birthday book with a ton of notes in it from the missionaries who have served around him and it had all these photos and quotes and things. It was pretty freaking fantastic, just saying. He loved it. Then all the elders wanted to go and play volleyball at the park...why the heck would you play volleyball when these mountains are like a ten minute drive away?! IDK. Whatever. Sis. Pike and I just went and hiked in the mountains by ourselves haha.

There's this less active lady we go and visit every Tuesday afternoon who lives in this shack thing full of black mold and it's dark and humid in there and she has all these little birds in a cage that just tweet and chirp our entire lesson with her and imma freakin lose my mind #dunloplearnspatience. She has this dog tied up outside and every time we walk by, it's barking it's head off and I'm just waiting for the day that it breaks free and bites my leg off. Stay tuned, it’s terrifying.

Sister Oliver came on exchanges with me in Memory Lake and it was the first time I've driven since Fairbanks and we were just lost like all day. Alaskan road systems make literally zero sense making my Sister Dunlop life really freaking hard. It's fine. Sister Oliver is adorable. We went and tried to contact a few people then went and helped Bobby with his yard with Elder Morley and Elder Rider, good stuff then Bobby's neighbor, Peggy (a former), invited us over to her house for s'mores. She pulled these rock solid marshmallows out of the cupboard and started a fire in her fire pit full of garbage and had us roast these break your teeth marshmallows over it. For some weird reason, all our marshmallows caught on fire and fell in the fire...weird. The next morning, we got a frantic call from Sister Pike and Sister Jewel because we had a meeting for the sister missionaries serving in the Valley (Lazy Mtn., Colony, and Memory Lake) and it was Sister Anderson's birthday. The next hour and a half proceeded to be a hot mess scramble to pull a birthday together but like I said, love party planning, so it somehow all worked out. Cupcakes and party hats and everything. And twenty more trick candles. But this time, we were in the church building and as soon as she blew them all out, we realized how stupid we all were and opened all the windows and tried to fan all of the smoke away before the fire alarms went off. Sister Dunlop never learns.

Sister Pike and I were asked to teach the Young Women's class yesterday at church. There's only four young women in the Memory Lake Ward and they meet in this itty bitty corner classroom of the church building, way sad for those girls but they're the sweetest. We talked about words and how what we say has the power to either build others up or tear them down. We shared this really awesome video, I'll add it on here but words are so powerful. I think that sometimes we don’t really realize their impact but seriously, everything that comes out of your mouth makes a difference.

We magically convinced some of the elders to go up to Talkeetna with us for PDay today. It was sprinkling rain the whole time but I freaking love that little mountain hippie town. Their mayor is a cat. I'm serious. Google it. We didn't get to meet him though, he was probably busy with meetings or something today. That town is totally run by a cat. We ate good pizza at this little hut called Mountain High Pizza Pie (#tbtjhole) and then and played tourist at all the gift shops and walked down the train tracks to the river and took photos by the bridge. We were there when the train and the cruise ship busses dropped all the people off, and it was just like Jackson in July-people were swarming the little two street town. I love it.

Upcoming week: Remember how last week I raved about how President Toone just crazy believes in us and thinks we're amazing (and we are all still recovering from trizone where he challenged us to step it up)? Yeah okay well we are having this General Authority just like spontaneously come up to Alaska and so all the six zones-North & South Anchorage, Chugach, Palmer, Wasilla, and Soldotna-get to head down to Anchorage for an impulse conference with him and Fairbanks and Juneau will just Skype in. It's like when President Nelson came, except it’s not President Nelson and I actually get to be there in real life for it instead of just watching it on TV and missing the first hour of it because the connection isn't working. It's going to be awesome. TBH also way excited for it because I get to see a ton of my missionary people who I love with all my heart, not going to give any shoutouts though because it keeps them humble. They know who they are.

Transfer calls on Thursday night. Scary. But also not really because the Sisters in AAM are freaking dope and so I'm not too worried about it. In interviews a few weeks ago, President Toone dropped that Sister Pike and I are getting separated next transfer *tears. straight tears. I freaking love this chick. IDK why we got blessed enough for #roundtwo but I'm not mad. I'll probably be camping out in Memory Lake for another round but with the pattern that my mission has gone so far, I really have no idea and just don't even guess anymore #blessthismess. And the fact that I only have four transfers left is scary too. I probably will have one more area before going home but again, I really have no idea and just don't even guess anymore. Mission life is crazy, but I absolutely love it.
Anyways, hope life is happy and sparkly down there. Go be great.

XOXO Sister Dunlop


Whirlwinds

Monday, September 4, 2017

I first off need to start this weekly by attempting to briefly convey how simply fantastic and amazing President Toone is. I don't know what AAM did to be so blessed with such a loving and kind mission president, but we are seriously the luckiest mission in the world and I am forever grateful for him and his sweet wife. We had interviews with President Toone this week and I had just been feeling overwhelmed by the whirlwinds of being a missionary-investigators not keeping commitments or being too busy to meet with you, doors on doors on doors being shut in your face before you even have the chance to breathe just because you wear a little black badge, a ward of wonderful people who need a lot of love but feeling blank as to knowing what more you can do, being homesick for my people, not having a ward mission leader to help us homegirls out because we're feeling directionless and lost, the earth starting to turn brown and gray as the fresh snow settles in the mountain tops #freezin, families whose hurt would be healed by the gospel and through the Atonement because that solves everything but they're not willing to give it a chance, people thinking that missionaries are just a free labor moving company, and the weight of trying to be His heart and His ears and His eyes and His hands and be perfect at it and be a part of all these missionary miracles and just feeling really small. I went in and sat down with President Toone and he helped heal me. He pulled me right out of the whirlwind, planted my feet on the ground, and brought me back. Everything President Toone and I talked about and all that he said to me was exactly what I needed and my heart is so grateful for that. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows me and my AAM well enough to know that we needed President and Sister Toone with their love and zeal for the gospel of Jesus Christ. God is good. 
Here's how I am feeling...Mosiah 2:20-22
20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another--
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another--I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.

Other exciting things that have been happening: OH. We had this less active member that neither Sister Pike or I had ever met before, show up to church last Sunday and was asking all these deep and not related to the lesson strange [sketch] questions in class and the teacher suggested that he meet with us sometime this week and we could answer his questions...great. Sis. Pike and I were a little freaked out by this guy so we had the Knik elders come with us to his lesson #safety. We get in there and he starts explaining to us how the government writes Latin code words in the sky and if you were to cut a table in half or a wall in half, the Latin would come out. Latin is everywhere. And then he told us how he has these five military soldiers that follow him around because his father discovered a dark secret about his family in the past and now the military is out to get him/watch him to make sure he doesn't spill it. Also, according to our dear friend, the military hides symbols in the palms of your hands and Latin letters that spell out your destiny. I was so lost. We mostly just sat there in silence trying to figure out what to say while he rambled. It was like we got thrown into Inception or the Da Vinci Code or National Treasure or something #whirlwind. I guess he moved back to Virginia or something that day because Bishop Bowen told us he's gone now...bye friend, good luck out there. 

Apparently dizziness is contagious. Earlier this week, Sister Pike had been feeling really dizzy and nauseous and then she started feeling better on Thursday and then I started feeling dizzy and nauseous for the rest of the weekend. It's really weird because it's not like dehydration or something like that, it's just like that feeling you get when you stand up too quickly and see stars everywhere. But like, constantly #whirlwinds. There's not really anything we can do about it so we're just surviving. We've just been waiting for either of us to pass out during a lesson or while tracting on someone's porch, it hasn't happened yet but I'll keep you updated if it does-should be exciting.

We were our district tracting in the Wasilla elders' area on Saturday and we were heading up to a door and this cute mom stuck her head out the window and was like, "hey! Are you the LDS missionaries?! I was just reading a blog from this mom on the east coast who was talking about how much she loves the LDS missionaries coming over," ...we were speechless. Then she told us about she's a blogger and was working on a post right now so she couldn't chat but told us we could come back (you're welcome Elders) and then she said, "if everyone was as serious as you guys are about your faith, going door to door, it would heal the world,". Amen. Amen. Amen. The gospel solves everything. In missionary work we talk a lot about "the one". The one family that opens their door to you while you're out tracting, the one investigator that comes to church on Sunday, the one lesson where your investigator (who really become some of your greatest and sweetest friends through this whole thing) commits to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized. At the end of the day, we do all of this for the one. 
Doctrine & Covenants 18:15-16
15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!
Serving a mission has been one of the hardest things I've ever done. But I've never felt so much joy or peace or gratitude as I have serving a mission. It's tough, but amazing. It's a whirlwind. And it's all worth it. Idk, I'm just feeling really blessed and grateful up here and have seen tender mercy in tender mercy on tender mercy happen around me. Life is so good and I love being one of His missionaries. 

XOXO πŸ’•Sister Dunlop

Memory Lake, Wasilla, AK - 8/28/17

Monday, August 28, 2017

Hey friends! Sorry for being MIA last week, we got to go down to the temple and so it made our PDays all funky. Still not really sure why they do that, but it's okay because Wasilla to Anchorage is kinda a long haul (#tbttomissingmyflighttoFairbanks) anyways. Also, for those of you who know Anchorage, Sister Pike and I accidentally got lost on the back streets of Mountain View hahaha 

I don't really know where to start because a ton happens in the missionary world in two weeks, and let's be honest, these weekly email things are such a labor of love and take 5ever to write anyways. And y'all are probably just like me and only read them for the photos #guilty. Minus the fact that the Fireweeds are closing up and there’s already a dusty powder of snow on the mountain peaks, things are really good up here. We had an amazing trizone conference (#tbttowhenitrainedatonelastyear #daythreeofmymission #goreds) with the Palmer, Chugach, and Wasilla zones and President & Sister Toone this week that gave us a lot of things to grow with. President Toone came back from a mission president's conference and shared with us that Elder Oaks [#homie] has told them that "something big was on its way to missionary work". I AM SO EXCITED IDK WHAT IT IS BUT ITS PROBABLY REALLY DOPE SO I AM PUMPED FOR IT. And then President Toone being the fabulous mission president that he is, called Salt Lake and was like, "my AAM missionaries are ready for whatever this new thing is. We would love to be a test mission for it or whatever, we are ready, bring it on, let's go..." that dude has some serious faith in us, it's freaking awesome. And then Salt Lake was like, "well there’s ten things that your missionaries need to be doing first and then we can give t to you,". So now we have this list of ten things that we need to implement in our missionary work  to be ready for whatever this "something big" is. We have a lot of work to do and it's freaking awesome. President Toone (love him) also has this magic gift where he teaches so lovingly and amazing and you don’t even realize until after trizone that he was just hardcore calling all of us to step up our game and rise to our potential. It's freaking awesome but then we went home and just had a meltdown. But then we set a ton of breakthrough goals to help us be better. [From Laura: Slightly random thought process upcoming from Caitie..but if you know her well, you’ll understandBeing a missionary is a little like being Hannah Montana because right now it's concert time and so you have to be Hannah but in reality, you're Miley but you have to be Miley to be Hannah but you can't be like Miley right now because you’re Hannah. And you can't be just Miley because then everyone will know that Hannah is Miley and Hannah needs Miley to be Hannah but you’re Miley so you have to figure out how to be Hannah and Miley. You get the best of both worlds. Nobody’s perfect. We're pumping up the party now.

We are teaching this cute native couple, Mary and Barry, that live down the street from us. I know...Mary & Barry, too cute to be true, but it is #myheart. Barry came to church yesterday while Mary was out berry picking (Natives LIVE for berry season up here), so that was really awesome. We are hoping they continue to progress towards being baptized but there are a few holes we need to patch up first to help them. They're fabulous humans. We are teaching a boy named Braden, whose older sisters were baptized about a year ago. He doesn't feel quite ready to be baptized but we're working to help him feel more comfortable. His dad isn't a member of the Church yet either but is super kind and we would LOVE to teach him. We'll just keep praying and see what happens. Also, there's this less active family that we love and their dad works up in Barrow so Sister Pike and I haven't met him yet but they have a senior in high school, a freshman, and a little second grader (I think?) who really want to be baptized and so we are going to start teaching them the lessons. I'm so excited. We also got to go help a homegirl less active garden in her peony field in the sprinkling rain. Barefoot. I was so happy. We've also had a ton of opportunities to share and teach the Plan of Salvation, which I’m really grateful for because of how much the Plan testifies of God’s love for His children. I am so grateful to know that life is not over after death and that we can be with our families forever. I left my forever family for a little bit to go and help others have the opportunity to be with theirs forever too.

Last last week (not a typo) Bishop Bowen asked me to speak in sacrament. Usually missionaries get to just come up and share their testimonies and sit down but he had me like speak speak, gave me a conference talk to base it off and everything. And he did give me like a three day notice, so that was super kind. But still, Sister Pike and I are super busy and it was hard to find time to like sit down and write a talk. But I did it. And maybe I'll just save it for my homecoming [in a million and a half years] so I don't have to write another one. It was fun though. And it gave me an opportunity to announce to the whole world the right way to pronounce my name. I didn't think that would be such a big deal on my mission, but I can’t tell you the number of times I've been tempted to paint a white "e” on the end of my name tag. It's fine. Bishop asked me to base my thoughts off of Elder Holland's talk from last General Conference about “Songs Sung and Unsung". There's a part in there where he talks about how we all have an important part in the choir and how each of our roles is important and needed. If you're really super interested, Sister Pike recorded my talk and I could send it to you (I think...idk iPad technology is occasionally not my friend). But I could try #truelove.

Weird things I've eaten this week:
Shepherd's Pie (didn't even know what that was until my mission) made by a blind and deaf cowboy, rainbow fruit swirl ice cream from Little Miller's, we asked the YSA elders to bring us ice cream post trizone
meltdown and they brought these freezer burned vanilla ice cream with two nasty globs of slimy peanut butter in it, a giant piece of apple pie as big as my fat head (idk why people think that as soon as we finish dinner, we are ready for dessert. NO.), some kind of peanut butter caramel fudge truffle Blizzard thing from DQ, and I don't think any road kill or bear or something but honestly you never know with the Alaskans.

Oh yeah, and I've been a missionary for 376 days now. That's insane. Insane. It feels like it's been that long, but it also feels like my parents dropped me on the MTC curb this morning. But then I realize that I'm becoming one of the old sister missionary hags around here and I'm like, "oh, I guess that I have been out for a while and now there are all these little greenie elders overtaking AAM,". Time is so weird. My mission has been the greatest adventure and it has been such a blessing time and time again to know that this is exactly what Heavenly Father wants me to be doing with my life right now. I love being a missionary. I love Alaska and these people have such good hearts. The gospel of Jesus Christ resolves any problem, heals any hurt, and lifts every burden. What a blessing! The mantle of a missionary isn't always easy. It's heavy, but it's good because it helps me be stronger. It all works out. Trust in the process. Let go and let God. Someone told me yesterday, "we are all here to smooth out each other's life trails". Truth. We are here to help and love and lift and build each other up. We're all just walking each other home.
Go be great. Hugs and loves.
Sis. Dunlop

All the spiders in Alaska are like this...WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME?!



August 14 2017-Wasilla, AK

Monday, August 14, 2017

I feel like I have a lot to tell you about, but also not really. Last Monday, our zone had Sister Johnson's "funeral" (because she went home on Wednesday/"died"). We put her in a coffin (this huge cardboard box the zonies found for us) and all gave some parting words. On Tuesday morning Sister Johnson and I drove down to Anchorage and picked up Sister Kimball to be a trio for the day. Sister Kimball is a blessed soul who gets to go serve in Lazy Mountain (#tbt) and so we would drop her off in Palmer later that night when I was dropped off in Wasilla. Logistics of transfers are crazy. Our trio went up to Memory Lake because Sister Johnson wanted to say goodbye to some of the families she loved while she was up here. TBH it was a little awkward because I was their new missionary, Sister Johnson was their old missionary, and Sister Kimball was just there for the ride haha. Later that night, we met up with the Lazy Mountain and Memory Lake sisters (Andersen, Petersen, Willden, and Pike). I am so excited to serve with Sister Pike again. We don't have a ton of people to teach right now so we have been planning world [Wasilla] domination all week and we're so stoked for round 2 #bananaandstrawberrybackatitagain. Pretty sure all the elders (we are the only sisters in our zone) hate all our high energy fun but that's okay.

Tender mercy of awesome: my first full day in Memory Lake, we went to go and help at this "Back to School" project where they were handing out backpacks of school supplies, giving haircuts and shots, etc. and all of a sudden I hear, "SISTER DUNLOP!". And I look around like uh...I'm new...who knows me? And then a bunch of families that I love so dearly from Lazy Mountain-Beames, Rundells, Fetters-come running over and hug me. I died.

I had to break out my puffy and thermal tights this week...it's August my dear Alaska. Why are you freezing cold and pouring rain? Rude. Also, the fireweed is pretty tall up here. Alaskans believe that
however tall the fireweed is in the summer is how tall the snow piles are going to be in the winter. I believe it. Bring it on. My photo selection this week is pathetic. So sorry.
XOXO Sis. Dunlop

#blessthismess 8/6/17

Monday, August 7, 2017

I'm going to tell you a story; the story of my insane but beloved and amazing mission [so far]. Once upon a time, Sis. Dunlop was trained by Sis. McGee #RIPthereds in the Oceanview Ward & Bush Branch (in south Anchorage). Normally it takes two transfers to be trained, but "normal" has never really happened for me. Oh and also, we were the STLs #newkidtrizonetrainingondaythree. I freaking loved it. Then Sis. McGee's eighteen months as a sister missionary were up so she flew home and Sis. Ewing came and greenie broke me for a transfer. Definitely a time of learning and growth as I showed her how to STL and she was still helping me figure out how to straight up be a missionary. Good stuff. Then I was sent up to windy and cold Palmer for December to be in a trio with Sis. Christian and Sis. Mataele in the Lazy Mountain Ward. Trios rock, let me tell you. Palmer in the winter though? Not quite as fun. But wait for it. Then I headed to Fairbanks and greenie broke Sis. Pike in 5th Ward for a transfer #lolzies #ithoughtpalmerwascold #theniwenttofbx #-64. After Sis. Pike left, I served three transfers up there with Sister Fa'anunu. I love Fairbanks-learned a lot, cried a lot, grew a lot, laughed a lot, was freaking cold a lot, prayed a lot, a lot of this, a lot of that, a lot of whatevz. Six weeks ago, I was flown down to the peaceful family land of the Eagle River Valley & Mt. Baldy Wards believing that I would be here at least two transfers because my companion, Sis. Johnson, would be "dying" (going home) at the end of this first six weeks. PSYCH DUNLOP! President Toone (our brand new super duper fantastic and kind Alaska Anchorage Mission president) called us on Thursday night for transfer calls and was like, "sisters, due to the shortage of sisters we have in the mission right now..." *pause: the new batch of missionaries coming to the mission next week has as many elders as the Stripling Warriors and only two sisters in it
"...we have to close an area to the sisters. It looks like this round we are going to have to close your Eagle River Valley & Mt. Baldy Wards this time. We are going to have to replace you with Elders..." WHAT?! *punch to the heart "...and so Sister Johnson you will be heading home back to your family at this completion of your mission. And Sister Dunlop, you will be heading up to the Memory Lake Ward in Wasilla and will be companions with Sister Pike," *lots of screaming and freaking out [with joy]. Two things: I'm super duper sad to be leaving ERV & MB after only one transfer here (the second time I've
only spent one transfer in an area (Palmer) (side note: spending only one transfer in an area is pretty rare as a missionary. Especially doing it twice) and that always rips my heart out a little, I get attached haha) because I've met some of the nicest and most loving people here. BUT I get to go and be companions again with Sis. Pike and I'm way stoked about that. Also, I haven't even been out a year yet and I've already served in five of the eight zones in our mission. Boom. Dunlop can not be stopped haha. I have absolutely loved my mission.
There are definitely rough moments, if it was fireweed and Hot Licks ice cream all the time then everyone would be a missionary. Sometimes it's pickled muktuck and Eskimo Ice Cream (ate that yesterday and my body wanted to kill me) and negative a billion degrees outside. But the whale blubber and nasty "ice cream" and ridiculous cold is all worth it because helping people's lives be blessed with the joy of the gospel is the absolute best "when you bring others unto Christ, you will find that you also bring yourself". Heavenly Father is so good to me and I am so grateful for this gospel of joy and eternal families. My life is crazy, but I love it #blessthismess.
Love, love, love y'all.

Sis. DunlopπŸ’•



Double Dose of Dunlop 7/31/17

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hello. Yes, I am alive. I'm so sorry for the silence, things have been a little bit crazy up here. Crazy but good I guess. So here's a double dose for you...

The night before my birthday a few weeks ago, we had a pre-bday dinner at our [Mt. Baldy] Ward Mission Leader's house with his family. They had invited their neighbors, Lesley and her husband, to come over as well. I'm such a Lesley fan you guys-she is the cutiest lady and has the kindest heart of gold. She is not a member of the Church [yet] but it's one of those people you meet that would be a fantastic Primary President or YW Camp Director kind of thing. She's amazing. She owns a wedding cakery down in town and makes the cutest cakes #fangirling. Anyways, she told us to come and stop in at her bakery some time to get some cupcakes. As y'all know...my sweet tooth is occasionally a little bit out of control (shoutout to Mama Laura for that gene) and so I'm always down for treats. Of course, we stopped in and she gave us a ton of free cupcakes #superblessed and then we got to chatting with her about life and stuff. Did you know that one of Lesley's hobbies is that she goes around to garage sales buying Bibles? She then takes these garage sale Bibles and has a big stack of them in the corner of her wedding cakery and freely shares them with people, whenever she feels prompted to do so. She told us that even though there's a random assortment of versions of the Bible (King James, etc.), she has full faith that whichever one is on top of her Bible stack is exactly the Bible that the Lord wants her to share with that person. SHE IS SO FANTASTIC! 
Then we talked about the Book of Mormon  and she told us that she had started reading it and really likes it. She told us if we brought some by, she would add them to her Bible stack and share them #sheisgold. Then we talked about Jesus Christ and prayer and even shared a fangirl moment about David Archuleta, she loves him haha. Lesley told us she wasn't really interested in necessarily being "taught by the missionaries" right now, because she goes to another church, but maybe one day. Something I love about the Restoration of the gospel is that in no way does it diminish or crumble the beliefs of other Christian churches, but instead it builds and adds on to things they already know. It restores the FULLNESS of gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel does not change, but instead, it changes us. It shapes our hearts and our desires to see more than just what's going on right now. It influences the choices we make and gives us hope in our adventures to grow and become all that our loving Heavenly Father wants and knows we can be. I'm grateful for that knowledge and I'm grateful to know that despite my struggles and flaws, Heavenly Father knows and will always love me. He knows my weaknesses and my stumbling blocks, but He also knows my hopes and dreams. And yet, He does not give up on me. I am grateful that He is in charge and have such a testimony of being called to where you're called because of who you are "the Lord doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called". Sometimes (more like all the time) becoming "qualified" requires some Refiner's Fire, some steep and slippery switchbacks, but as we trust Heavenly Father and remember that through Him we can do hard things, it all works out as we trust in the process.

We go out to the Eagle River Nature Center each week with the Beach Lake sisters-Sister Randall and Sister Clawson-and volunteer there cutting trail, building bridges, chopping wood (this week I got to be Lumber Jane and use a wood splitter like the one at the cabin #iamapro), and things like that. It's the best! A few weeks ago, these two girls came by the volunteer office and were like "we're up here visiting our family for a few weeks before heading back down to AZ & CA for school, can we help?". HECK YES. So we absorbed them into our volunteer crew and it's been so fun to get to know them. On Friday, we were heading to our dinner appointment and knew that the family we were eating with was part member (the wife and her two kids were members and the husband and his two daughters were not). Anyways, we knock the door and guess who it is?! Our Nature Center friends! Haha it was so awesome. We had a good dinner with them and then they started asking us questions like "what do missionaries even do" and "what made you decide to go on a mission" and things like that. I love those questions because sometimes people think we're like nuns and are personality-less robots...PSYCH! LEMME TELL YOU WHY BEING A MISSIONARY IS BOMBDIGGITY. We told them about missionary life and then I shared my Tincup Canyon car accident story. The Spirit at that little dining room table was POWERFUL you guys. As much as I'm not a fan of cars tumbling off cliffs or icy roads and rivers, whenever I feel prompted to share my story I do it, because there's something about "I Shouldn't Be Alive" moments that make you think and bring the Spirit. So we talked about prayer and the Restoration of the gospel. Want to know something? The Restoration makes logical sense. God loves us so He gives us families because being alone on Earth would be a major bummer. He wouldn't leave our families without direction, so He gives us prophets to act as His mouthpiece helping guide us back home to Him. They tell us what we need to do and what we need to know in order to return. So He sent Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son, to set the example for how we should live our lives. Christ set up His church with prophets and apostles and priesthood power (the authority and power of God for men to act in His name, it's like Heavenly Father's "stamp of approval") to bless the lives of His children. Jesus Christ performed the Atonement, He being the only one capable to do so because He was perfect, which solves the two problems we have as humans- a dying problem and a sinning problem. Christ atoning for our sins makes it so that each of us are able to repent and be forgiven for the shortcomings, sins, and mistakes we all make. That heavy load of guilt and grief that comes from sin can be taken away, should we chose to repent and utilize the Atonement of Jesus Christ and as we do that our lives can become bright and peaceful. I don't know about you, but I would way rather live a bright and peaceful life than one filled with grief and guilt. How does the Atonement solve our dying problem? Because Jesus Christ was resurrected (the reunion of your spirit and body in perfect form) after being crucified, everyone who has ever lived, currently lives, and will ever live will be resurrected too. No matter where they were born, what they did on earth, or what their favorite flavor of ice cream is, ALL will be resurrected because God is our loving Heavenly Father. But here's the catch, after Jesus Christ died, people were still wicked. They killed the apostles and prophets and eventually the priesthood authority was taken from the earth, this is called the "Great Apostacy" or the "Dark Ages" like what you study in middle school history. Things on earth were a little rough. There were still good people and fragments of what Jesus Christ had taught remained on earth, but there was no "fullness" or priesthood authority. As a result of these fragments, people began to form their own churches but still none of them had the full teachings of Jesus Christ- there was a need for a Restoration. And so when the time was right and just like He has done throughout the history of the world, God called Joseph Smith to be a prophet, just as Adam and Moses and Noah and Abraham. Joseph was confused about which church he should join and so following the council given in James 1:5 to ask of God, he went into a grove of trees and prayed to know the truth. There Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph and told him that none of the churches contained the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ but through Joseph Smith being called as a prophet, that fullness would be restored. And now here we are, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints containing the fully restored gospel. This email is getting ridiculously long so basically we talked about the Restoration and then each of the girls accepted BOMs and our invitation to read them. They were really excited and even came to church yesterday but are heading back down to the Lower 48 on Wednesday for school #sadsadsad but hopefully those seeds we planted will bloom some day.

"Sister Dunlop, there is no better time for you to eat a fried Twinkie than right now, as a missionary. What other time will you be more prepared to meet your Heavenly Father?!" -Bro. Lemon #eatwhileyoucan. Bahaha I died but we got distracted by talking about other fried things (fried Oreos, fried butter (this is actually a thing at the AK State Fair), etc.) and forgot to get the Twinkies out, next time. And now that I just wrote that out, I feel like that might have been one of those moments you just needed to be there for #awkwardsorry. 
Anyways, sorry about the super long email.
Have a fantab week xoxo.
Loves and hugs, Sister Dunlop

Here's a random assortment of photos from the past few weeks.


Sister Cantaloupe 7/17/17

Monday, July 17, 2017

Hello my people. Hope you know how much I love and adore y'all. I seriously do #vblessed.
The beginning of this week was literally a month long, I swear to you. We tracted our brains out trying to find people to teach. We met some super nice people, but none of them were really interested haha #awkward. We're working on better ways to find people to teach, but sometimes we have to put our big girl pants on and knock doors *insert "Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson here. Elder Leland also asked me to train in District Meeting last week and I did a training on Kid President haha I'll tell you about it when I get home "...don't stop believing unless your dream is stupid, then you should get a better dream...".
This weekend was the "Bearpaw Festival" down in town and we got to go and help out there which  was sweeeeeeet. IDK what the reasoning for this "festival" is but...not mad. It’s basically like the Fair but there's like street vendors, picnics, parades, boutiques, baseball games, rodeos, etc. It's freaking awesome #goAK. Our district helped out at the Teddy Bear Picnic and for some reason Sister Johnson and I were picked for the bean bag toss so I spent hours and hours picking up bean bags that kids threw at me #loveit. Then we were crowd control for the parade on Saturday morning and got to wear super fashionable neon orange safety vests and walk up and down the street making sure kids didn't get trampled by parade floats. Side note: the Bearpaw Festival parade put the 4th of July one to some serious shame. They had football teams, Irish dancers, scarf people, rock bands, Jeep crews, and all this cool stuff. I even had a [super kind, generous, loving] lady use a [loud and happy voice] at me for "uneven candy distribution". She packed up her camp chair and peaced. Bye Shakira. Then we worked with the Beach Lake sisters and magically pulled together a free lemonade and cookies stand right outside the entrance to Bearpaw #innovativefinding #imsickoftracting. It actually went super well, we passed out a ton of lemonade and cookies and even gave away like five Book of Mormons #goteam.

We cover both Eagle River Valley and Mt. Baldy right? Yes. So yesterday I guess both Bishop Parks and Bishop De Kay thought it would be funny to both impromptu call me up to share my testimony during sacrament meeting #lolnotfunny #freshblood #iactuallydontthinktheyplannedthatbuthey. It was good though. I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase "lift where you stand" and how Heavenly Father does not expect us to be perfect all at once. He loves us and wants us to progress and sometimes (usually) that doesn’t happen over night. But day by day as we lift where we stand, lift those around us, and do the best we can to exude love and inspire greatness in others; that is where we grow - just a spiritual little Sister Dunlop moment for you today xoxo. The people in the wards have started calling me "Sister Cantaloupe" because apparentally my name is the hardest thing ever and so I say "Sister Dunlop, like cantaloupe”. And then it sticks #whateverfloatsyourboat.

Sorry for the lamest selection of photos this week. I don't have Sis. Fa'anunu to take selfies with every day any more #rip. Also, THE JEPSENS (the family that has a big piece of my heart up in FBX) WERE BAPTIZED LAST WEEKEND πŸ’•πŸ’”☺️πŸ™ƒπŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸŽ‰πŸ‘ŠπŸΌ. That makes my heart so happy, I adore them. Have a super sparkly week!

XOXO Sis. Dunlop (or Cantaloupe)




The Land of the Free & The Home of the Sun

Monday, July 10, 2017

Hey peeps! Sister Johnson has been working my behind off this week, which is good. But some PDays feel more blessed than others☺️πŸ™ƒ. Maybe being 20 is why I feel so old and tired now #grandma (PS thank you shoutout for all the birthday love yesterday ❤️ I feel so blessed with all you people). The weird thing about being a missionary on your birthday is that it just feels like any other normal missionary day.

Bear sightings report: only one this week. He's this scrawny little dude hanging out in our neighborhood we saw on Monday night. Haven't seen him since so hopefully he's not our dinner tonight #bearmeatisnasty.

I can't remember if I told you this already or not, but we cover both the Eagle River Valley and Mt. Baldy wards. Our areas together are HUGE. The only other sisters' area in this mission that covers two places is Oceanview and the Bush Branch...and I've served there too haha. So anyways, we have a lot of work cut out for us and our teaching pool is looking pretty slim so we've been knocking a hecka ton of doors. Not really the most productive use of time, but we are working on finding balance. Also, Sister Johnson is going home at the end of this transfer on August 10th so she's on a "go big and go home" streak. It's a little cray but whatever. We've been working to ignite the member missionary work in the wards so
we've been revamping the ward mission plans and sharing Missionary Bingo with families, teaching them the lessons, taking them on Chapel Tours, giving them Book of Mormons to give to people, etc. #ignitethemissionaryfire.

How was the 4th? THE SUN BEING UP ALL OF THE TIME IS LAME. But it was an excuse for me to get Sister Johnson to wear her America sunglasses, I forced her to buy, all day with me. She hasn't worn them since and probably won't but I wear them every day #noshame #letfreedomring. There were no fireworks (...sunlight...) and the parade in Chugiak wasn't even .02% as awesome as the one at home. It was just tractors and police cars throwing Smarties. No one even likes
those. But we had dinner with one of my favorite families and ate salmon and halibut that they had caught that morning #soblessed #iamnowafishsnob. Also, the 4th was an excuse for me to wear an

outrageous outfit that only goes together on Independence Day #notmad.

I finally got to meet our new mission president, President Toone, this week! He is so FANTASTIC! We had Chugach zone conference with him and Sister Toone on Friday and it was super awesome. He was a seminary and institute teacher and so we all had a little call to repentance about not remembering all the scripture masteries #oops. He's fab and I'm pumped. 

So yep, there's a billion and one things from Sister Dunlop this week. I hope life is happy and sunny. 
XOXO Sis. Dunlop

I'm Still Alive But I'm BEARly Breathin' - Eagle River, AK

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Hi people! In all honesty, I feel like I am running around with my head chopped off. It's a good time but this week has been insane. Leaving Fairbanks was the most bittersweet thing ever on Wednesday morning and I teared up a little bit walking through security at the airport (that was also the first time I had been alone in like ten months so that was probably part of it too). It was so weird to say goodbye to the people who have made such a big influence in my life and people who I have come to love so dearly over these past few months and not really knowing if I would ever see them again #mishlife. Anyways, somehow I got all my stuff crammed into suitcases under 50 lbs and climbed on a plane with Elder Herrick, Laursen, Leland, and Olson headed to Anchorage. Sister Pike and Kimball picked me up and then we headed up to Chugach to transfer swap all the sisters around. It was so happy to see all those people I haven't seen in a billion and a half years. Sister Johnson (my new comp) and I were wearing the same skirt when she came and picked me up so #compunity. We drove up to Eagle River (so pretty, but honestly anything is prettier than Fairbanks...) and sorted my life out before we went to work. It's going to be a bomb diggity transfer kids. And Sister Johnson is going home at the end of it so #gobigthengohome.

Oh, and we had a black bear run across the street in front of us the other day on our morning walk #yayAK. ERV is like crawling with bears right now so that's make tracting really exciting. Hopefully we don't die. And tomorrow is the greatest day of the year and all you Lower 48ers down there better love and enjoy it for me because fireworks don't really work when the sun is up forever. Send me pics. Also, I turn twenty in a hot sec here so if that's not crazy, idk what is. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! ❤️πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
Hopefully I will be able to figure out these areas this week and be less of a mess so I can have some good stuff to tell you about next week. 
Love you all.

XOXO Sis. Dunlop

 

June 26, 2017 - Fairbanks, AK

Monday, June 26, 2017

Hey peeps! I just feel like I need to start out by sharing how immensely and unreasonably blessed I feel. God is SO GOOD you guys. Also, I'm getting transferred. Crazy, I know! I think President remembered me and the fact that I've been up here for time and all eternity. Not mad though; learned a lot, loved a lot, cried a lot, prayed a lot, grew a lot. You know how in Cars, Lightning McQueen hates Radiator Springs with all his heart and soul and then when he finally has to leave with Mack it's like the saddest most bittersweet thing ever? Same. That's how I feel about this last transfer. I super duper did not want to stay here another six weeks-and laid on the FHC floor crying for like ten minutes after transfer calls from President #anotherstoryiwillonedaytellyouabout - but now I feel so grateful to have been able to take part in all of these adventures, moments, and miracles. What have I learned? God's timetable is different than mine. But I am learning to trust Him and am grateful to look back on these last few (or like seven) months and see His hands in all things #BLESSONS. But anyways, I am flying down to Eagle River on Wednesday morning to serve in the Eagle River & Mt. Baldy wards down there with Sister Johnson. I am super excited! There are mountains there!

Okay so this week...crazy. Remember how last week I told you about this cute girl, Haley, that I met on Sunday and was on date to be baptized on Saturday? Yeah well by some magic miracle of amazingness (or Heavenly Father, let's be real here) she was baptized Saturday morning. Not to pick favorites, but her baptism was definitely one of my very favorites. It was basically all run by the youth of the stake and the Spirit there was so thick you could cut it like a piece of cake. Haley is a go getter with the sweetest and kindest spirit. We finished her last lesson with her and she passed her baptismal interview [with flying colors of course] on Friday. I know, it's supposed to happen a week before her baptism and not the day before but #hotmess #runningaroundwithmyheadcutoff #idontevenknowHaleyshewasjusthandedtome #butiloveandadoreher. Another awesome part of this story: the zonies started filling the font for us on Saturday morning and then we came a few hours later to trade off and finish filling it and setting up chairs. So we get there and the zonies are like, um we have no idea what's wrong but the water is like forty degrees (lololol) and someone said they would come and take a look at it but the water is freezing cold. Oh no. So this guy comes and does some mechanic inspection observation thing and finds out that the boiler is out of fuel oil-or whatever it is that makes it so hot water comes out-and that the soonest it can be fixed is Monday. Oh no. We started filling pots of boiling water in the kitchen and running them back and forth and dumping them in the font but eventually we just gave up because it wasn't really doing anything. Sorry Haley! She's a trooper though. Then her confirmation yesterday was the sweetest thing and everything was just so GOOD you guys! Fairbanks, despite it's roller coaster of weather, emotions, and events, has just been so GOOD. There's a joke in the mission that "Fairbanks will either break you or make you" and I feel like it's done both. Life is good kids. Go be great.

XOXO Sister Dunlop, Queen of Fairbanks

 
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