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'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. Dunlop💕

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 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.