Monday, November 7, 2016

Missionary Highlights: Pearisburg

       My mom and dad sent four children on missions.  Each of us has a testimony of the gospel.  Three of us talk less about our missions than my dad did about the navy (not much; it was a good experience, but certainly not the best two years)  Corey is the only one who has kept in touch with former companions and those he served. 

       Same with my boys.  Aside from their homecomings, I had never heard either one of them mention his mission.  It's not to say that we didn't grow from it or have any positive memories to share - it's just a part of our past that tends to stay there for the most part.

       I loved the MTC.  I loved my district.  I had been assigned to go to Virginia, Roanoke mission, while my MTC companion was being sent to West Virginia, Charleston.  We rarely ever stated what cities we'd be going to.  People would ask, "Where are you going?"

       Sister Larsen would always answer first, "I am going to West Virginia"
       "And I am going to Virginia" I would say.
       "Oh, you're going to West Virginia, too?"
       By the end of our three weeks, Sister Larsen would say "West Virginia" and I would say "Regular Virginia"

       I had been scheduled to leave the MTC on September 6th, 1984.  Everyone else in my district would be leaving on Sept 7th.  Or maybe we were all leaving on the 6th and I just happened to be leaving at a much earlier time.   

       The Elders from Hollister district were all going to Fresno - except for Elder Lovett.  He had also been scheduled to go to West Virginia, Charleston.  People would ask my companion what she was going to do for a companion once I was gone.

       I would answer, "Elder Lovett and Sister Larsen are both going to West Virginia and will be companions for just a short time." 

       They have no sense of humor in the MTC.
       I have often wondered how or what became of my MTC companion.   Common last name.  Haven't stayed in touch.

       I vaguely remember arriving in Roanoke and riding in a van to the mission home and crashing at night.  I don't recall what took place between arriving or crashing.

       We were given our assignments and taken to the bus station.  I was being sent to somewhere called Ripplemead, Virginia.  It was so small that it wasn't even on the provided map; someone had been handwritten it in next to a blue dot that was made.

       I got on the bus and one of the Elders took my bags and placed them in the overhead.  We drove for miles into desolation.  The further we drove, the more rural the areas became until there was nothing but land.  Finally, the bus pulls up at a drug store.  I see a sister missionary waiting. 

       "You've got to be kidding me," I thought.  "This one store is our town?"

       The drugstore was located in Pearisburg, along with one of the wards that we served.  The other was in Pembroke.  I think both those were on the map.  I doubt that all three towns put together had more than 1,000 people.  Today the entire population of Giles County is more than 16,000.  I don't know if the number was higher or lower back in '84. 

       My trainer was a hard worker.  She had become close to many members of the first area we had served - which ironically reminds me a lot of the area in which I currently live - though Giles and Monroe county offered unbearable cold weather which isn't a part of western Oregon. 

       Knocking on doors came with such an eerie sensation.  It was as those who answered the door were still living in the depression and as 1984 was a foreign future to them, we, of course, didn't exist - and it always felt like they were looking right through of us instead of at us. 

       Well, maybe not always.  The residents of Narrows seemed to be a bit more humane, actually understanding the importance of hygiene and all of them had their teeth.  I honestly didn't know where we were each time we would knock doors. There were so many people that lacked hygiene - some were still using outhouses and had no concept of a toothbrush.  That is not an exaggeration, either.  But, of course, that was only a few cities and not the entire county. But when I am asked about my first area, that is what comes to mind; for some reason, it is those "twilight zone" encounters that I remember.

       Sister F. and I were together for a month before Sister D. joined us.  I had referred to our group as a threesome, which never did set right with me.  My nephew called them tri-panionships which actually sounds better.  It was the only group of sisters that didn't include at least one senior sister.

       We went to the ward Halloween party; I thought it would be funny if we could dress as nuns but as we didn't have habits but did each possess a raincoat, we went as flashers instead. 

       Later on, we dressed as stewardesses (politically now called flight attendants) and presented a fireside which I briefly mention here.

As I recall, Sister F was transferred right before Thanksgiving.

       I got along with Sister D.  We both enjoyed having companionship study each in our bed so that if there was any time left, we could enjoy a companionship nap (that's what she called it) and neither of us cared for knocking on doors. 

       We found a young man and taught him all the discussions at the bishop's home.  We spent Christmas together, and actually had two baptisms scheduled for Christmas day. 

       For Christmas, Sister D's family had given her a suitcase which contained a film projector and several canisters of different church films (we didn't have DVD's or tablets back then - no emailed accounts to our parents, no facebook posts . . . ) which we would carry as we would invite others to hear our message.

     One my last week there, we  toured some of the spots which Giles county had to offer.  By accident, we

encountered the city of Goldburg, which had not been marked on the map.  I think we counted 6 - 10 houses.
We were both freaked out as it appeared (and felt) like a Satanic ghost town

       At the beginning of 1985, I was transferred to my second area. 

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