What a magnificent week! I don't think I've ever had more fun on my mission! Haha Cherry Grove is seriously the best. I'll start with the rodeo.
Wednesday morning was spent doing what they call "slack." Basically it's the full rodeo, but without all the music and the audience. We figured that we would just be opening a gate here or there, maybe run some paper work around or do ticket sales. Oh no! They through us right into the big stuff! We were running the cattle chutes for tie-down roping, steer wrestling, and team roping! No pressure, but if a cowboy gets the wrong steer, it's our heads! We had to sort the steers according to the line up, all while being quite enough to not startle the horses, while basically shoving these steers out of the chutes because they are more stubborn then ever. I may or may not have gotten a hand full of cow poop... the best way to get a steer to move is by grabbing it's tail and twisting it up. It was not the most ideal time to grab his tail! haha but you gotta do what you got to do! At that point, I considered myself fully initiated! And I only fell through the chute once.... hahah i got quite a few laughs out of that. Slack finished at around 11, and I was already exhausted. Fortunately, it was only day 1!
Thursday we didn't have to be there until 3, so we spent the whole morning trying to invite as many people as we could to come to pioneer days. We handed out over 100 invites! We were almost running from house to house because we had so many people to invite! It's so much easier to talk to people when you have something to invite them to! Then we ran off to get ready for the rodeo. We had worried that we weren't very liked because we were obviously such amateurs. But the moment we showed up for round 2, questions just started flying about what we do, and why we were serving missions. It was so cool! And we saw that all throughout our rodeo experience. So many of these people haven't really been fond of the church were laughing and chatting with us. We can see there hearts opening, and although we didn't get any investigators out of this experience, we've planted seeds that will continue to grow. And if nothing else, I hope each of the people that we came in contact with can at least say, "those missionaries were so kind, and they worked so hard." And I know we did the best we could to leave that impression.
Overall the rodeo was such an amazing experience. Although a big part of the lifestyle is beer and a swear word every other word, these people are such kind-hearted, humble humans who just want to make the world better. That's something I've noticed with most Canadians. They are just so kind, and they just want to make the world a great place for all people. I hope that that is an attribute that I can take home with me.
Saturday was our Pioneer Day celebration! It felt just like being home. There were over 400 people there, and it was nothing but fun all day long! It started out with a pancake breakfast, then a short parade, and then foot races! I've always just seen little kids do the foot races, but this was for all ages! We even had 60 year old women in a full out sprint! Hahah it was a blast. Then came my favorite part, softball!! It felt so good to get back out on the field! There were about 40 people playing between the 3 teams, and everyone else was watching and cheering everyone on. It was amazing because we saw so many less actives show up that haven't been out in years! Miracles really do happen!
Another super cool miracle we saw was with the W family. Brother and Sister W are two of the greatest people I know. She is Young Women's President and he's in the Young Men's presidency. Sister W's kids and her mom came to visit for the next few weeks. We stopped by on Wednesday to drop off a cooler, and we ended up staying and chatting with them. None of them are members, and they didn't really have any interest in the church. We decided to share the Mormon Message, "Our Fun Family Vacation." It talks about the importance of spending time with your family, and how that will help your relationships. Brother W text us later and said that they loved the video! They came to Pioneer Days as well, and by the end, they had agreed to come to church on Sunday! This is so huge people! They came and stayed for all 3 meetings on Sunday, and they want to come back next week! Their daughter-in-law, S, even mentioned that she might want to start going to church when they go back home. It is incredible. Brother and Sister W have been such faithful members of the church, and through their example, there children are making there way towards the gospel.
I know that the words that we say and they way we live our lives makes a difference. We don't realize who is watching, and we have no clue what role we will play in someone's journey. But Heavenly Father is so aware of each of His children, and there's no cooler feeling than playing a role in that journey. I've been so overwhelmed this week with gratitude for this sacred experience of serving a mission. Just when I think it can't get better, it always does. I still can't even comprehend just how much I love these people, let alone how much Heavenly Father loves them. But what an honor and privilege to get a glimpse of it.
I love this gospel more than I can express. I am so so blessed! I hope each of you will look for how the Lord is blessing you in your life. Because He is always showering down blessings, we just have to look for it.
I love you all! Have a fantastic week!
Sister Bethany Christensen