Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What I am Thankful For - November 2011

You are what I am grateful for.  I wouldn't be me if it weren't for each of you.  I'm thankful we fought, but forgave.  I'm grateful for every silly moment, lame joke and giggle-fest that made family prayer take two hours.  I'm grateful there were rules and expectations.  I'm thankful for every prayer I never heard that was said for me.  And because I have you, I'm grateful for eternity.  Father lives.  His Son lives.  And they are the only ones I love more than you.

I love you all THIS much!

Thanksgiving 2011

From the crossroads of the West.....


It’s official – the holidays have begun and from 5pm to 9pm, Temple Square is a madhouse of crazy.  But amazing and fun.  We’ve only experienced the first night, so I’ll tell you about TSquare later.

I literally had a dream come true on Thanksgiving.  The Temple Square Mission had a DANCE PARTY!  Well, a missionary-approved dance party.  Still, super fun.  But that was only a small part of the day’s festivities.  Here’s a rough itinerary of my day:

 6:30 - 10:00   Normal activities - study, exercise, etc.
10:00 - 12:30  TSquare time.  Except for 2 FANTASTIC teaching appointments, which we are still rejoicing over.
12:30 - 12:50  Quick change!  Get into P-day clothes (jeans) & get to Westgate.
1:00   Depart TSquare and head to.....nobody knows (even the driver - haha)
1:30 - 1:40     Arrive at Noahs!!!! (that's where everyone went last year)  Greetings and Instructions by the APs.  There are 3 game rooms, each with a tele screen, and across the hall a GIGANTIC room for eating & dancing)
1:40    Pool!  I watch while compy plays.
          Watch crazy volleyball court with a giant movie screen
          Play table tennis and generally hang out with SisterW (another DL in the zone and a good friend)
3:00    Watch "How to Train Your Dragon"  Yay - I really like this movie.  And in an awesome theatre room.
4:00    Get interrupted by SisterB from Melbourne (our AP2) giving us the call to dinner.
4:15 - 5:00     Dinner!  With Mary Poppins in the background.  Seriously, there was a telescreen in every room!
Dinner was catered by the same people who make sandwich boxes and taco dinners for us at Conference time.  Tonight was turkey, taters, corn, stuffing, rolls, salad, pie, etc.  All the good stuff.  And boy, were we stuffed!  Yum!
5:00    Entertainment!
SisterG did her TSquare rap; Sisters L,V,D (our roomies) and SisterB did an Italian song; and.....Pres&SisterH!  Actually, President had his son do a "rap" he and his companion came up with on their mission in Alabama first, then Pres& SisterH danced for us.  So cute and so funny.  Don't worry.  I have lots of video and photographic proof of all this.
5:20    DANCE PARTY!  It was mostly the same 5 songs, but some we played 5 times in a row for the limbo contest, line dancing, freestyle, etc.  So Much Fun!
(I have always talked about how much fun it would be to have a dance with this mission and I got my wish )  There was lots more dancing, picture taking and general fun in the 4 rooms we were using.
6:30    Announcements
6:45    Talk from President.  Inspiring us as always.  No one should go to bed without getting on their knees to give thanks to God for their blessings.
7:00    Supposed departure.....but the bus was late.  So it ended up being time to watch "Beauty and the Beast"  WOOT for Disney classics.
7:30    Actual departure time.
8:30    Abundance of picture taking in the apartment with me and compy.  Yes, pictures will follow.

 So that was Thanksgiving, Temple Square Mission-style.  Today is actually P-day, so the Christmas lights are on at the Square, and we have morning P-day until further notice (probably my birthday).  It's weird, and we get an hour less of p-day, but it's what other missions do.  Weird.  I really like being part of the special (and best) mission.

This is where I sign off for today.  Love you all.  Merry holidays and Happy Christmas.  I have a District meeting to plan.  Ugh.  I'd rather give a talk.

Testimony of the day: President is right.  So I'll say, It's All True.  Or I wouldn't be here.

Sister Clayton

PS.  Some of you will get this (you know who you are).  Guess who passed by me last night when I was talking to an awesome RM.......CARL!  No joke.  It was very Twilight Zone.  And no, I didn't talk to him or see him for more than 5 seconds.  But he's alive!  Ah, Ghosts of EFY!

Me and SisterH
They kidnapped us!

Everything funny.....

.....we learned from President!

SisterW-my MTC companion

Dancing Mission!
SisterG - companion #3

Love You!


I love catching up with former
companions.  I love them so much.
We are more than friends, we are
truly eternal sisters.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 11, 2011

27 October 2011 The Emergency Room

I want to respond to stuff, but it's probably more important to tell you what happened this week. I had my first trip to the emergency room!  Don't freak out, I'm totally fine.....Now.
Here's the brief details:
I woke up Tuesday morning at 2:30am with a twinging pain in my left side, just above my hip. I tried to ignore it, thinking it was just a cramp. Spirit-prompting #1: I went to the bathroom, somehow thinking that would help, and passed out twice. I knew I wasn't on my period (pretty much the only times I've passed out before were due to that) so the "Houston, we have a problem" button came on. I was white as a sheet and drained, so I tried to lay down again. Obviously, that didn't work. Now comes the stupid prayer with the intelligent answer I'd already known. I prayed to be healed and was told to call my zone leaders. Duh. By now it's 3:00am and I called Sisters H and C. So glad they're my ZLs. You have no idea. They're crazy, but so wonderful. So we played phone pong (not quite tag) for a while from me to the ZLs, the ZLs to the APs (who called President), and back down the line to me, who was now feeling increasingly nauseous. So the ZLs told me that the APs were coming to take me to the hospital. (Delayed) Spiritual-prompting#2: That's about when I woke up my companions (SisterV later gave me lots of grief for not waking them up sooner). And just after that, I started throwing up. *side note: This is sounding a lot worse than when it actually happened. But I was pretty darn miserable in that hour before we got to the hospital.* The APs came and I somehow had the presence of mind to ask what I would need. Medical card. Thanks to not listening to the prompting I had the night before to take all my stuff home, my wallet was still at the Square. Yes, even missionaries can be really, really dumb. Super dumb. Still totally embarrassed about how dumb that decision was. But I digress. The APs went to the Square to grab my wallet (which was useful when I had to pay the $10 copay later) and came back to take us all to the hospital.

Sheesh, this is a long story. So we got to the hospital, and while the dear lady at the desk is trying to check me in, I throw up again. I'm sure they've dealt with worse, cause it got absolutely no reaction (that I noticed in the less-than-coherent state I was in). At least this has cool bags instead of bed pans. Anyway. Kelsie was my nurse and I absolutely love her. It's probably 4 in the morning by then and she was great. She gets my vitals, etc, and they wheel me in to room 6. It was a nice little room. I get into my gown and get my first EKG while Kelsie draws a few vials of blood. I wonder if Mom used to be like me, before she knew everything about hospitals. I was asking the woman doing the EKG what it was, etc. And when Kelsie had to get more blood later (much later, after they'd put in the IV) because one of the samples clotted, I asked her about what blood clots are. It was funny that I'd just been in tons of pain and throwing up, but I was strangely calm and everything. Actually, I realized after a while that since they had checked me and gotten into the room that the pain was gone.

Moving on. Dr S.Welch (whom I also love a ton now) came in after a while, asked more questions about the pain and where it was, etc, and told me that it was a problem with my kidney. It was either a stone or an infection. They just needed to do the tests, etc to find out which one. I think this is when there was a bunch of waiting around happening. And when I got the IV so they could start pumping fluids into me. I remember because I already had the IV in when Daniel came to do a CAT scan. (I'm really happy I remembered names from that morning.) So I've had my first CAT scan. I'm finally catching up to the rest of my family (especially mom).  Sorry, too much levity

A little before 5:30 the APs swapped with my companions since there are only 2 visitors allowed at a time. And of course, who should brake this rule 20 minutes later. President. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I updated the APs on what was happening and we talked and joked for a while. When they got my wallet, they had also grabbed my camera, so I have a couple pictures of me smiling away in my hospital bed. Yeah. Only at Temple Square. Well, probably not I guess, but it's not surprising for us.  We're a little camera happy.  Anyway. Then President came. Already in his suit. At quarter to 6 in the morning. Again, probably not surprising. And of course he came in kind of joking about why we were there. But it's impossible to take that seriously when you know President. And when he's giving you a kiss on the forehead as he does it.

After a little while Dr Welch came in, probably 6:15ish, and told us that it was for sure a kidney infection. So I was getting a prescription for the antibiotic pills, and I would need to come back the next couple mornings to get another IV antibiotic to kill the infection fast. President and the APs left after a while and Kelsie came back to give me some pain meds, nausea meds, my prescription, and my discharge papers. I'm really happy it was her on duty that morning. She was fun, funny, and really sweet. And really good at answering the few questions I had.

We talked with President in the lobby for a bit to get further instructions and I went back yesterday and this morning. Yesterday they gave me the second IV and left it in (I thought) so they could do one more this morning. Nope. I had to deal with that thing in the most awkward spot just so the doctor this morning could tell me I didn't need it. Oh well. I'm just happy I'm better and the sisters will stop reacting to me like I'm going to die. Well, I can't blame my zone for it. President arranged a trip to the Bountiful Temple and Tuesday was when our zone was scheduled. Obviously, without us. And I've been at home for two days. You'll be happy to hear that I slept most of yesterday, and when I wasn't asleep I didn't leave my mattress. (Having a mattress on the floor really isn't different than sleeping on a bed. Who knew?)

So I'm finishing the pills and having a check up with the mission doctor in a couple weeks. I haven't been in any pain (except headaches [not an unusual occurance] and feeling slightly nauseous the first day) and I'm being a good girl about resting and taking my meds. I had no problem following orders from President and Mama Holmes to take as much rest as I needed yesterday.

President and Elder Young gave me a blessing yesterday, too. When we came out, Sister Holmes was there and that was the first I'd seen her since it happened. She was more serious, with being a little ... not angry, but ... just serious ... than President was that first morning. But I gave her all the info and she hugged me tight, gave me a kiss, and made it clear that I was to take as much rest as I needed. Love her so much. I haven't seen her as much recently. Anyway. I think that's everything.

I'll send pictures of the whole experience next week. I actually thought everyone might get a laugh from me in my cute hospital gown. I was surprisingly awake for how early it was. Hospitals do that, I guess.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

More happy stuff. I missed my year mark! A year and one week ago I was endowed at the San Diego Temple!!!!! And in 6 days I'll have been on my mission for 9 months! So weird! I'm already halfway through. Bizarre.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

*Side note:  Glug glug glug - that's the sound of me now drinking more water!  No more kidney infections for me!

Sister Clayton

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

20 October 2011 What I do with my day, Temple Square Style!

Hiya!  Sitting on my bed with the windows open, wearing jeans and a Woot! Shirt and listening to cds almost makes me feel like I’m at home, not just P-day.  Strange how comfortable that make me.  It’s nice to feel at home in my home away from home.
I got a few really cool inbound  calls this week.  Time to explain the RC to you.  When we’re not on the Square, we’re in the call centers.  There we either teach or make “RC call”.  Teaching is somewhat self-explanatory.  We set appointments with investigators and have a short lesson with them over the phone.  We follow up, extend commitments/invitaions, have kneeling prayer, the whole shebang.  And all in 10-15 minutes.  I’d like to see other missions do that!  And that’s teaching.  Right now the big thing is changing our focus to baptism.  Before, it was IRC, which stand for Investigator Referral Confirmed and means they are meeting with local missionaries.  But our prupose is preparing the elect for baptism, etc.  Our new…thing:  we find, we teach to baptize, we baptize to seal.

(Best part of P-day.  When my Kiwi cooks and insists on feeding me.  Mmmmmmmm.  Just potatoes and chicken, but it is darn good. ♥)

Now RC.  RC stands for Referral Center.  This is where we call referrals from members.  And call members to get information about their friends/family, as well as report on how the calls went.  So when someone calls you to ask about your people, they’re doing RC.  When we call member referrals, the overall objective is to invite them to meet with local missionaries.  We try to go by what we call the Contacting Model (which we also use for the Square).  Here it is:

Contacting Model

Establish a relationship of trust
(who you are, why you’re calling, get to know them, crack a dumb joke)

Create environment to teach
(PMG pg 107 Briefly teach to their need, usually from lesson 1 and usually the Restoration or eternal families.  Key: brief and clear)
Teach & Testify
(PMG pg 107 Briefly teach to their need, usually from lesson 1 and usually the Restoration or eternal families.  Key: brief and clear)
(Invite them to learn more from local missionaries.  Promise blessings specific to them.  If they say yes – get their infor and make teaching appointment.  If not:)
(ask why they said no, find concern , address concern, invite again)

And that’s what we try to do.  In 10 minutes.  Talking to a complete stranger.  The thing is, it's not as terrifying….no, scratch that.  It is as terrifying as it sounds, but it's not as terrible.  I’ve talked to some amazing people.  And they never think it’s as weird as you think they will.  (Bad grammar, I know.  Sorry Otter.)  I like what Elder Holland says on PMG  pg 8 (I’m applying it a little differently), if they don’t refer “the first thing you do…is be devastated!”  It’s true.  “teach with power and authority and then be devastated” if they don’t accept missionaries.  But we move on.  And that is the RC.

 And now you’re remembering that I mentioned “inbounds”.  Mmm.  The fun part.  Inbounds come from two sources: and Pass Along Cards (media inbounds, technically speaking).  Those come to us and other Visitor Centers (but mostly to us).  The are honestly trollers most of the time; just pranking, arguing or being insincere.  But media inbounds are usually great.  They call because they actually want something: a Bible, Book of Mormon, a DVD about Christ, families or the Retoration, or a visit from the missionaries.  We take their information, teach a principle (again, Restoration is standard and most effective – duh), invite them to get their –whatever- from the local missionaries in person and learn more about the gospel, and then call them later to check if they got the item.

So that’s what we do in the lair, I mean Call Center.  I still like thinking of our mission office as The Secret Lair of Temple Square.  The offices (of the Presidency, APs and OAs), guest services, one call center, the kitchen and several study rooms are in the basement of the South Visitor’s Center.  It’s fun to “emerge” and guests look at you funny because you basically appeared out of nowhere when you came up the stairs.

I’ve discovered something since I’ve been here.  I have an almost entirely different experience as a missionary (and temple patron of my age) because of my 3 months as a temple worker.  My roommates were asking about all sorts of stuff related to me having worked in the temple.  I have more understanding about how things work there than anyone my age.  Obviously not about the things that actually happen.  I counted back in my first transfer and by that time (not sure if I included the times at the MTC), and I had gone through approximatelly 30 sessions as a patron or ordinance worker.  What 21 year old can say that?  Granted, I wish I had done more with that time, but nobody is perfect.  Anyway, it just struck me yesterday that I am really lucky.

President Hansen’s letter included the pew aerobics section of Stake Conference.  Huzzah for the new High Council members.  It will be fun to have Brother Little come to our ward.  And I know Brother Keller will enjoy working in Young Mens.  And Pres Hansen included a personal note about loving a picture Mom showed him.  Is she carrying them around in her purse?  Jeez.  I’m glad he got to see a picture.
Hard to believe, but in two weeks, I will have served half my mission.  Wow.

Another quick note.  Went shopping and got two Christmas cds: Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.  Yep, I’m a very happy missionary.  Bing’s cd even has his song with Bowie.  And Frank’s has a medley he did for a WWII broadcast.  I am a VERY happy missionary.

You have no idea how happy I am that there was no Stake Presidency change.  
He just has to make it through one more and I’m safe.  I know that since I want it so badly it’ll
probably happen just the opposite.  I love President Hansen so much.

Update on your wandering missionary.  Compy got her Visa to Brazil and I am now part of a trio.
New Companions:    Sister F from China
                                  Sister V from Sweden
New Apartment:        a mattress in their room
New Zone:                 None.  Still a District Leader, too

My New Companions, Sisters F&V

20 October 2011 -- A Funny Story?

I’m going to tell you a funny story.  
Picture this:  
It’s Sunday.  It’s early, early in the morning and you wake up because people in the apartment building next door are yelling.  There are lots of shouts of “Get out!” mixed with the f-word and various names.  This is going on for about 5 minutes that you’re conscious of.  Then there is banging at the door.  Your roommate opens it and a zone leader tells you there’s a fire next door and everyone needs to evacuate.  Here we go again.  You get your companion awake and think what you need to grab.  Laptop?  Don’t have one.  Mr. Beary?  Not here.  Shoes, need shoes.  Well, those I’ve got.  You throw on tennies and a sweatshirt, get your companion to put shoes on, grab the keys and head out.  You go downstairs, following the line of pajama-clad sisters outside and up the hill.  Great.  Sprinklers.  And they’re hitting the path you’ve got to go through.  RUN.  You follow where the sisters ahead are running, to avoid the freezing blast of freezing water and finally make it up to the parking lot in front of GP(the other apartments).  Okay.  Now what.  Zones.  Split into zones.  Both your companionships are with you.  Yeah, they’re still the best.  SOUTH 1!  Naturally the ZLs show up last.  Wake up everybody in GP.  Freaking Cold!  Huddle in your zone and just wait for the APs to tell us what’s next.  Everyone’s here, and now we’re all going to pray our building doesn’t burn.  Of course, Sanders would start singing Spirit of God.
Sound fun so far?
Basically we’re there waiting for an hour while they put the fire out and clear the building.  After a while, sisters in my zone start singing hymns.  It was nice.  We were all huddling and singing, etc.  President came, told us there wouldn’t be Sacrament Meeting so we could sleep in, and sent us all to bed.  I think all of us felt instantly….safe...and peaceful the second he showed up.  So we went back to bed and spend the day swapping stories.  Good times.  Now it’s just a fun story we all talk about.