Monday, December 16, 2013

My Dear Family,
   First of all: Happy Birthday Dad!!! I love you so much and I've been singing Happy Birthday is my head all morning. I hope you have a wonderful day. Love you. Every word of the card I sent you is so true. Thank you for everything.
   Also, since time is so short I want to make sure I get this letter out before I run our of time, so I haven't read the emails from all of you yet. I printed them out and can't wait to read them. Thank you all so much for responding to my need of encouragement. I want you all to know that I'm doing much better. I had a few breakthroughs this week with reminding myself why I'm here, to share what I know. I know how happy the gospel makes me. I am SO grateful for the knowledge that my family is eternal. I love you all so much and miss you so much that yes, it does hurt sometimes, but I know that 18 months is a short time. I can give up 18 months of my life so that others can know what I know, feel what I feel, and be as happy as I am. Thank you all for the support. I can't wait to read your letters in half an hour.
   Here's the real one. The real, full letter of how I'm doing and what things are like here on my mission. Sorry about the short and pretty detail-less messages you've received so far. It really surprised me how fast your email time goes by. Plus it's hard to remember what things you want to say when you're rushed. So this week I've written down a list of things to tell you all. 
   First of all, I can't express this enough. I love you all and miss you all so much. I think about you and pray for you every single day. The letters, packages, emails, and pictures from all of you bring me so much happiness and give me the motivation and encouragement to keep going and to work hard. Please keep telling me how you all are. I really love it. There is no such thing as too many letters. :)
   So here are the things I want to share with you all:
   Sister Cusick my companion is wonderful. She is a great trainer. She works really hard, and is helping me to push myself to become a braver and better missionary. I enjoy our lunch breaks when we discuss random things and get to know each other more.
   Concerning what I do every day, it's pretty typical missionary work. :) She drives (I'm becoming a great map reader I think) and we go to visit Investigators, less-active families, and we do a lot of knocking, street-contacting, and declaring to random people. I don't talk a ton when it's random people on the street, but I'm getting better at talking and teaching in our actual lessons.
   Speaking of lessons we are teaching a wonderful woman who is being baptized on Sunday!!! She has been attending church for more than a year and has such a strong testimony, but as a formality, she has to have all of the missionary discussions before baptism, so she was basically given to us to teach ALL of the lessons and discussions. We meet with her a lot and I am so excited for her bapitism. Her son was baptized a year ago. He's at BYU, but he's coming down this week to baptize her. :) I'm excited.
   The members of this ward are wonderful. They feed us dinner each night, and so many of them are very excited about missionary work and willing to help us with anything they can do.
   Mom, I love my wardrobe. Thank you again, so much! It makes me very happy to think of you every time I put on something I know you liked or got for me. I'm wearing the green and blue sailboat sweater today. :)
   California weather right now is colder than I expected. Actually today it's really pleasant outside, just cool. But often in this area it's pretty cold and breezy. A member said that we are super close to the ocean, that it's right over the mountain. I'm not sure if I believe them. Haha, the truth is I have no idea where I am in relation to anything. I love the stars at night because I can see familiar constellations that I know from home, and I then know where I am in relation to home. I laughed when Bethany told me that you've stalked me on google maps. That's awesome. Isn't my apartment lovely? I like it. It reminds me of Bonnie's.
   I miss music quite a lot. I haven't touched a piano since I played at the transfer meeting on the 3rd. I miss listening to music and singing. We listen to some in the car, but I miss a lot of other songs. Especially Christmas ones I love. At night, I love the fact that I can't fall asleep for a while because I lay there thinking through my favorites. I have Princess and the Frog and Tangled memorized and I often fall asleep "watching" those. :) Weird huh? But, hey! It makes me happy and helps me get to sleep.
   I'm going to end this letter so that I can send some pictures to you all. By the way, I'll let you know next week about when I can call home on Christmas. I look forward to talking with you all. Thank you for everything. I'll try to write a few replies to individual letters today. I love you all! Thank you again for all the letters and packages. My favorite time of day is 9 when we get home and we go to the mailbox to check. And the packages have made me smile so much. I love opening packages! Thanks for everything! I love you all! Know that I am doing well. I'm with you all the time. I feel your love and support. I love hearing about home. Tell me more about what's going on. How is/was the party house full of people? What Christmas things are you doing? How is Jim? Send me snow. ;)
Love you all so much!
Sister Melanie

Here is me and my companion with our goal of making Saturday night "Hot chocolate and popcorn night".

Happy Birthday Dad! I Love you! (This is from this morning by the way, on my apartment's balcony.)

In-N-Out :) We only have an In-N-Out and a Subway in our areas, but those make me happy.

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