"Greetings from Hickville!
No really. I feel like I got transferred to downtown Duck Dynasty. For
any of you that have seen the show Duck Dynasty knows that these men
have intense beards. Everyone in Pekin has long thick beards! And they
drive old stick shift trucks. On our way to the library this morning
we saw a tractor driving down the middle of Main Street! I almost
started crying I was so happy! It wasn't just any tractor, it was an
International Harvester and the driver was wearing a green John Deere
hat! I feel right at home here in Pekin Illinois. And Grandpa, you
would love it here to! Except for the smell! So Pekin (pronounced Peek
In) has a corn factory here and sits right on the Illinois river.
People literally move away from Pekin because it stinks! It's also
known as Stinkin' Pekin!!! Hahaha! And I have smelt this smell. There
are a couple of levels depending on the level of humidity. Sometimes
it smells like toast. There's no other way to put it, it just smells
like bread that's been toasted. Other times it smells like rotting
corn. The hotter and more humid it is, the more pungent the smell is.
I wish you could all be here to have the Pekin experience! It's
wonderful:) The people are just as interesting! It's by far the most
humble place I've ever been in my life. On some roads there are brick
laid down instead if asphalt. The houses are all old with no new
developments. And most men look like a leather glove from being in the
sun and working on the farm their whole lives. I'm petty much in love
with the Pekin life!!!
So Tuesday morning I left Oswego, and it was very hard! We drove to
the Naperville stake center and had a transfer meeting with all the
missionaries. Then we loaded up in members van to bring all the
missionaries down here that were going to the Peoria area. Since it's
about 4 hours south, the missionary who is not being transferred stays
here and teams up with another missionary not leaving. So I didn't
have a companion for a few hours but just stayed with other sister
missionaries coming down here. And let me tell you, we are down here!
They loaded up all our luggage on a trailer, threw some tarps on it,
and secured it with bungee cords. Of course it decided to rain the
whole 4 hours down here. Why wouldn't it?! And when I finally got my
suitcases, my bedding was soaked through along with some of my clothes
that were near the top. But we had to take another sister to her new
area so we didn't make it back to our apartment until later than
usual. And by then I was too tired to care so I slept with damp
bedding that night. I'm telling ya, sometimes I might as well be
serving in a 3rd world country! Its all in the mission experience,
and I love it!
My companion is Sister Clayton! She's from Alaska! Near the Anchorage
area. And she is so cool! We really get along so well and we are going
to see so many great and wonderful things here in Stinkin' Pekin!
Yesterday was great because it was church! It's such a relief to
finally meet the members and put names with faces. The members here
are great and Sister Clayton and I have big plans in working with the
members and helping them be more involved in missionary work. The
Bishop walked up to me before the meeting started and introduced
himself. He asked if I would bear my testimony before the speakers in
sacrament meeting and I agreed. Well we take the sacrament and then
the counselor that's conducting gets up and says "We have a new sister
missionary in our Ward. Her name is Sister Sanders. Sister Sanders
could you please stand so everyone can see your face. Welcome Sister
Sanders, we are pleased to have you with us." And he tells me to sit
down and announces the rest of the program. Sister Sanders?!?!!! How
in the world do you get Sanders out of Hauser?! When he announced me
as Sister Sanders I just busted up laughing! All the members were
looking at me like, why is she laughing? I wanted to say "Sorry I'm
from St. Johns Arizona, not Sanders Arizona." Pretty clever, huh?:)
but then he didn't ask me to share my testimony so I never got a
chance to redeem the Hauser name. All the rest of church members would
look confused when I introduced my self as Sister Hauser. I'd make
sure to say it really slow so that you could not some how confuse
Hauser for any other crazy name!
This next story is really random but I didn't get a chance to write it
in my journal and I need it catalogued somewhere, so just bear with
me. Yesterday we wanted to serve our Ward mission leader. He's single
and so since it was Father's Day we took the opportunity to make
something for him. We had strawberries, dipping chocolate, and cake in
a mug mix with frosting. So we made chocolate covered strawberries and
they looked good! And then we made this cake mix that you cook in the
microwave. It's actually pretty good! So we decided to make a two
layer cake and be all fancy. Well with the two mug size cakes stacked
on top of each other it looked like the leaning tower of Pisa. Like
seriously! So we frosted this mini cake, put strawberries around it
and headed to his house. Well humidity, heat, and frosting don't mix
well together. We had the AC on full blast with the cake right in
front of it but it still was melting. By the time we got to his house
it looked like a pathetic piece of art and the frosting was dripping
into a pool. But it was mainly the top layer that was falling. It was
so embarrassing and there was no way I was going to give away this sad
looking leaning tower of cake. So with no other options, we pulled the
top layer of cake off. Now it looked much better and still had
frosting all around it and it looked presentable. But now I have a
fist size piece if cake in my hand. Desperate times call for desperate
measures. With no napkins, no trash bags, and no place to put this
cake, I willingly sacrificed my health and my life by eating this
handful of cake. Don't get me wrong, cake is good. I think it was the
atmosphere and the fact that I had to eat it fast so that our Ward
mission leader wouldn't look out his window and see me eating part of
his treat and that I felt like I was one years old again and eating
cake from my hands. That's what made it so gross! I felt sick after
that, but sacrifice brings for that he blessings of Heaven! After all
we went through for that cake, he better like it!

As you can tell, my Pekin experience is well on it's way! I love all
the random things that happen to us as missionaries and the
circumstances we find ourselves in. It's so fun! Currently there is
one main investigator we we teaching. Her name is Catherine and she is
wonderful! She would be baptized tomorrow if she could, but she's not
married. And her boyfriend does not want to get married. He's not
ready for commitment even though they have a 3 month old baby
together. And he's even a less active member! But we have been praying
so hard that his heart will be softened or that Catherine will be able
to move out. There is a ton of less active work to do here and I am so
excited to get working!
In closing, I came across a quote this week that I want to share with
all of you. Member missionary work is something I have come to know
and love so much. This months ensign featured an article called That
We May Rejoice Together. You should all go and read it. At the very
end it had a quote by Elder Bednar that his me pretty hard.
It says “We properly pray for the safety and success of the full-time
missionaries throughout the world. And a common element in many of our
prayers is a request that the missionaries will be led to individuals
and families who are prepared to receive the message of the
Restoration. But ultimately it is my responsibility and your
responsibility to find people for the missionaries to teach.
Missionaries are full-time teachers; you and I are full-time finders.
And you and I as lifelong missionaries should not be praying for the
full-time missionaries to do our work! If you and I would truly pray
and ask in faith, as did Joseph Smith [see Joseph Smith--History
1:10–20]--if we would pray with the expectation to act and not just to
express--then the work of proclaiming the gospel would move forward in
a remarkable way.” Elder David A. Bednar, “Ask in Faith,” Ensign, May
2008, 95. (That We May Rejoice Together)
I have a strong testimony of the power that members have. I wish I had
known before how easy and how rewarding sharing the gospel can be.
Members have no idea the lives they can change as they open their
mouths and invite. Most of the time we have conversations about the
church but we fail to take it to the next step and inviting someone to
learn more. I know The Lord is with us as we do His work. I know it's
true. I know this gospel changes lives. I wish I could package in a
bottle the joy I feel and send it home to you. But I know that no
bottle would be big enough to hold all the joy and happiness I feel!
Please, pray and ask who The Lord would have you share the gospel
with. There is no comfort in the growth zone, and there is no growth
in the comfort zone.
I love you, I pray for you, I am your fellow sister in the gospel. Go
forth with faith!"