Thursday, November 3, 2011

Of to Lubbock I Go

All right, so this week was a week of crazy. I can't even remember it all and I forgot to take good notes, so....I'm a heathen.

But! To make it short, we had a baptism with Andrea and Audri (see adorable pics below), Halloween was a bust, the primary program was great, and I'm now in Lubbock with Sis. Tracy and Sis. Lao (see pics). I've been here less than 24 hours and I'm already pretty sure they're two of the coolest people on the planet.

Interesting stories...well, last Thursday was a blast - Sis. McGregor and I checked out all these awesome antique shops in downtown Clovis (if you ever want to find good antiques, go to Clovis. It's wicked cool) and test drove the new Hyundai Veloster. I kept calling it the "Velociraptor," because, let's be honest, it sounds better. Now, I don't know if we're supposed to go test driving cars, but we did it and it turns out our salesman was a less active member from Salt Lake who hadn't been to church in years! Wasn't even on our ward list. Talk about convenient. We gave him the address, time, and our number, so hopefully we'll hear from him.

The baptism was really amazing - I really felt the spirit when those two went under the water. Gotta love it. The ward really turned out for them (they also helped them move earlier that day when we just barely told them about it the day before - a-mazing!). The people in Clovis are just golden, I declare. I wish I could take them all with me. The Harts, especially, are great. We do our wash at their house on Fridays and they help us out a ton the rest of the week. Br. Hart's family is actually in the northwest like Boise and Tri-cities, like, I don't know, the Haueters. You make such fun connections on your mission.

So, this week has been interesting so far as I've been ET'd ("emergency transfer"-ed) to Lubbock. About 7 of us sisters met in this little town called Tatum between Hobbes, Clovis, and Lubbock and played "Who's Your New Companion?" in this tiny restaurant called, ironically enough, Tiny's. They only take cash. Yeah. So now I'm with Sis. Lao and Sis. Tracy and we're all just having a grand ol' P-Day. It's really interesting being with other missionaries and seeing how they do things, especially when I've only been out a month with one companion with no one nearby. You think there's one way to do things, but that just shows you how limited we are. There isn't *grin*.

Anyways, I've got to go, but I love you all!

-Sister Dunkley

Friday, October 28, 2011

Daggummit! The Tundra Followed Me South

"What the What!"

 "She came back six times"
 "This is how we do"

I was going to start this week's letter gloating about how it's still in the 80s here and how there are roses and flowers everywhere and it's wonderfully warm and I'm so lucky to be here where it's basically summer all year round etc, etc, etc. Then this happened (see Pic 1).
What the what, Clovis?!?! It was seriously 75-80 degrees yesterday. Silly, little town. Luckily, it's Preparation Day and I can therefore 'prepare' for this town's apparently bipolar weather.
In other news, our ward's Trunk or Treat was last night - so fun! We were in charge of a booth and did the "Pumpkin Gut Dive," where you had to dig into a pumpkin for your prize, amidst all sorts of gory grossness. Nice, huh? We got mixed reviews and had to dig noodles out of the carpet, but I did find that we were way more popular with the 5-8 year-old girls than anyone else. We had more boys refusing to do it and more girls coming back to do it again. You go, little girls of Clovis.
Earlier this week we taught seminary twice - at 6 in the morning. You'd be amazed how little 8 hours of sleep is when you're a missionary. 7 hours is even less. But as exhausted as we were those two days (sadly enough) it really was a neat experience. Having these teenagers up and at a member's home to learn about the scriptures, by 6AM, really impressed me. In fact, I was sitting there, exhausted, wondering how the heck they do it every day when I remembered that I did the exact same thing for jazz choir. On less than 7 hours of sleep a night. Oh, teenage self.
This weekend is exciting because Andrea and Audri Rivera are getting baptized! Yay! I love the Rivera family - they are just good people. Janet's a wonderful mom looking out for her kids, Andrea (14), Audri (9), and Joseph (9). They all have baptismal dates, but Audri and Andrea came to church before the other two, so they're getting baptized earlier. They're both so excited - everytime I see them, Audri's all, "My baptism's Saturday!" There're Trunk or Treat shots with them below, but I'll get normal ones this weekend at the baptism.
We also had the coolest lesson with a man named Jael yesterday. I say "we," but really we weren't any part of it. He'd recently had a stroke and we brought along with us Miss Rhonda Johnson, who also had a stroke that actually brought her to the church. We had no clue - we're none too swift sometimes. We just stumbled all over our lesson, left and right ("we" being "me"), till the end when we asked Sis. Johnson to share her conversion story. She pulled her chair right up next to him, related to him, grabbed his hands, and told him that he was not done yet. It may feel like it, but God kept him going for a reason. Then she bore her testimony in her awesome, personal way, asked him when he'd like to see us again and turned to look at us like, "Well? What are you doing sitting there with your mouths open like that? Get moving!" When I grow up, I want to be Rhonda Johnson. Man, I hope you guys get to meet her someday.
That's the week as far as I can tell. It's still snowing and we're going to go home and just relax. I'm sorry for everyone who hasn't gotten a letter from me yet - I should actually have time to catch up this week. FYI, anyone and everyone can email me - - I just have to snailmail them back.
Well, I love y'all! I'm off to discover missionary work in the snow!
-Sister Dunkley

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The One Where We Go to Lubbock

-The scouts did a "Ten Commandments Walk" where they went to 10 churches and each church explained one of the ten commandments as well as their basic beliefs. Well, we were second and I was set to take on the 2nd commandment - or so I thought. Come to find out 5 seconds before the presentation that we were set to do "Thou shalt not take the Lord thy God's name in vain" rather than "Thou shalt not bow down before any engraven images". Joy. I've found that when I get nervous on the mish I tend to use big words. "Linguistically" doesn't really do a lot for 10-12 year-old boys. Apparently the scout trip leader agreed because he got up after us and expounded on what it means not to take the Lord's name in vain. Including sharing several examples. It was a little traumatizing.
-I've also learned that you just need to eat when food is given to you. Especially when your companion can't due to medical reasons. So, I'll find myself starving from 11-6 and then suddenly we have two appointments where people feed us ie me back to back. My poor body's so confused.
-Clovis (and the mission in general) is full of churches, some with very interesting logos. My favorites include "First Baptist Church - Sharing Jesus 100 years" and "Heaven or Hell - your choice." Aren't they sweet?
-Someone needs to call/email Greg Dunkley and tell him I ran into a patient of his - Elder Briggs/Griggs. He told me to say hi, because Greg helped him so much (he's from the W. Boise/Meridian area)
-I may be forced to liking Christian rock due to over-exposure. Ack.
-Elder Baxter of the seventy came down for a mission tour. He's from Scotland and had all sorts of interesting things to say. It was a wonderful experience and it was great going to Lubbock and seeing everyone. I really lucked out getting sent to Clovis - everyone else from my original district basically spends their days tracting. I've only had one day devoted to tracting/knocking.
-We had the most awesome sandstorm the other day! It built up all afternoon till the sky was completely brown and the trailer we were teaching in sounded like it was being attacked (that was a fun lesson - it involved two 80+ year-old Spanish speakers and us trying to communicate. It really was great)
-Isaiah Macias got baptized! Yay! Here's some pics from the baptism - Br. Rasmussen, who is the hero of the week, baptized him (he's his home teacher).
Well, I must away! I love you all!
-Sister Dunkley

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Episode 2 - Where Sis. Dunkley Eats a Monster From the Deep‏

Tia and her prayer rock

Sister Johnson smiling at me
Well, dadgummit, I'm practically out of time already and I've got SO much to write about! Let's see how this goes.
I didn't even share my interesting food experiences with you last time! Because everyone has to have those on their mission, right? I'm such a heathen of a daughter/sister/friend. Well, mine included a whole, baby octopus. In Texas. Huzzah.
To be fair, it was at this chinese buffet place in Lubbock our second day there. But eat it I did! In one bite! And there are pictures, but they're on Sis. Crane's camera in Amarillo. Don't worry, I'll be seeing her next week.
In reality, though, I've eaten a lot of good home cookin' - we get fed a lot. I've already realized that all I need to buy at the grocery store is cereal, carrots, and chocolate and all my dietary needs will be met. I'm already gaining weight. Bleh.
The ward here in Clovis, though? They're awesome. I have already met some of, who will soon be, my favorite people in the world. Take Sis. Johnson - she's a convert of 4 years from Odessa, TX and Shreveport, LA who has a most "colorful" vocabulary and will go out for hours with the missionaries (even if she didn't swear, her language would still be "colorful"). Some statements of her's include:
"Why, she told me I had more chins than a Chinese phonebook!"
"Dadgummit" - my favorite
"My life is a 360 [degrees], y'all"
"We'll just fuss, cuss, n' discuss!"
"But, yeah, I like beat it. With a dead horse."
All said in a fabulous, Texan accent. The others are more entertaining, I won't lie, but I won't be repeating those anytime soon *grin*.
She's totally solid, though, and makes me feel completely at home. In fact, there's a whole group (4-5) of 50-60 year old spunky convert women that feed us/go teach with us all the time. Only one of them (Sis. Carter, whose husband is a spiritual giant if I ever saw one) is married to a member. The rest of their husbands aren't baptized but know everything there is to know about the gospel.
That's one thing that's so nice - the members treat you amazingly. They take such great care of us, feeding us and loving us, and basically treating us like family. Sis. McGregor's already told me that the way you survive being without your family for 18 months is by making a family out of members. And I can see where it works. They spoil us, no lie - I'm starting to see that you get the extremes on a mission. You're spoiled and rejected left and right. It'll give you a complex, I swear *grin*.
This morning we actually went to a member's house (one of these women), Sis. Dee Black's, and drew on rocks. Now, this sounds pretty sad to say it, but I it's way cool! We were essentially carving hyreoglyphics (how do you spell that) onto these rocks. She showed us books about different drawings in the southwest and their symbolism. I. Loved. It. I "drew" a woman (hourglass) in a prayer position with the breath of life going down into her heart. SO awesome. I'm putting it on my desk where I study.
I've learned over the past week that mornings are the hardest. You wake up at 6:30 (it's not the time, trust me. I haven't had a problem with waking up early at all) and you don't leave till 11 or noon. Study time, 8-11, is the worst. I don't know what it is, but in the morning I'm feeling the sacrifice of time, habit, comfort, family whereas as soon as we get out teaching, I'm loving every second! Really and truly. It's so wonderful being with so many interesting people and teaching so much.
Now, this may just be because I'm in Clovis, which is the highest baptizing district in the mission with Roswell. We've barely gone knocking, we're so busy with appointments. We have 6 set baptismal dates - Isaiah this weekend and Connie, Janet, Andrea, Joseph, and Audri the next! They're so prepared. Connie, who's in her 60s going through dialysis with one leg, just eats everything up. She didn't even let the missionaries ask if she wanted to be baptized, she asked first! She's so incredibly spunky and feisty - she takes on her neighbors and her sisters (who draw faces on her stump - what psycho 50 year-old siblings!) head-on, condition be darned. We went through the Word of Wisdom and the law of chastity with her yesterday, the two hardest parts usually, and she just nodded left and right, saying she agreed with everything. She's so spiritually strong. She sees when the devil's trying to keep her from baptism and she has a strong testimony of Joseph Smith.
Isaiah is the most amazing 10 year old ever - his mom, aunt, and uncle are baptized, but less active. He started taking the lessons two months ago and can't hardly wait to be baptized himself. I love to joke around with him and his little brothers - we'll squish Australia on the map and so forth. But Isaiah is totally solid, as Sis. McGreggor would say. He worries about his older brother and knows every commandment.
When we're not visiting investigators we're seeing less active members. There are 600 people in the Clovis ward. 600. How many actually go to church? 150. It's crazy. They're all really nice, but they're either comfortable with their life or they put something else above God or they feel guilty or whatnot. I think as a missionary you have a certain aura about you that invites people to tell you their intimate worries, problems, trials, etc. I know more about people in this ward and area than I do about most of my friends. It's crazy.
Our apartment (which, by the way, this is Curry County, hence the name - awesome!) has every and any reject from all of its previous missionary tenants. Clothes, shampoo, detergent, food, you name it. My entire bed is made from things other people left behind. And it's nice.
Plus, since my companion can't eat hardly anything (she picked up a parasite in Paraguay, where she was originally called and can only eat chicken, green vegetables, and fish), I have all this food from her and her previous companion. It's great, I won't lie.
My companion! Well, she's from St. George, adopted, graduated from the U in Psychology (is getting her masters now), played softball at the U (got a scholarship off it), and was a snowboard instructor up in Park City. Yeah, she's a beast.
New Mexico still has so many beautiful things I remember. Grand sunrises/sets, warm days, morning glories everywhere, and amazing thunderstorms. I'm loving it. Amusingly enough, everyone hates Clovis, because there's nothing to do. Luckily for us that doesn't matter, and since Clovis is such a hot spot for missionary work, it's actually great!
Well, I think that's all. I have to be off anyways - if anyone's not getting my emails, let me know. I know it freaks out when I send it to Dad, and I don't know if I have Daniel or Dave's email right. And I have no idea what you want me to do, Wills. But I love and miss you guys!
Sis. Dunkley

Thursday, October 6, 2011


 New Missionaries with President and Sis. Augustin

Sis. McGregor at their apartment -- note swimming pool full of dirt and plants.
Yayayayayayayayayay! We found out our first area Monday night and I almost cried, I was so thrilled. I'm excited to serve in Texas, too (I loved Lubbock), which will likely be the case since there are 6 zones and only one of them is in NM, but for now I'm starting off in Clovis, NM! Que excitando!
Well, to start from the beginning (I just thought I ought to get that out of the way or it'd burst out of me), after I talked to Mom/Dad/Shae at the airport, I was understandably tender. I quickly distracted myself by being all missionary-y with my fellow companions and told myself I would start my missionary life right then by chatting up the people I sat next to. Which I did. Hesitantly. I've found in the last few days that missionary work is harder and easier than I expected. Point being, I gave out a pass-along card to one woman I sat next to and counted that to my success.
Let me say this about Texas: it is flat. Oh my goodness, is it flat. We flew out to Dallas and then back to Lubbock, and I can promise you that there were absolutely no vertical change in the ground either way. Good gracious. And it's all fields and strange trails. We actually started descending into Lubbock (the airport was on the northern end of town, and I was facing north) before I thought we would, so I was just staring down at the fields getting closer and closer, thinking, 'Is this an emergency landing? There's nothing down there but cows and cotton!' I didn't see anything coming in.
We left the airport with Pres. and Sis. Augustin (AU-gust-un) and went off to the mission home where we spent the rest of the day milling about "resting" and being kind-of-sort-of-trained. Heads up, the next day was exactly the same, at least until my companion and I left for Clovis (2 hours away). That first night, however, Monday night, I found out my trainer (Sis. McGregor), that I was going to Clovis, NM, and that I'd be living there for at least 3 months (two transfers), living in the Curry House apartments. Which means I'll be there for Christmas. Living in the Curry House. Where the pool is filled in with dirt and plants. Pictures will soon follow.
Anyways, my first morning really in the field was spent studying. They have this new trainer/trainee program which takes 12 weeks (hence the set 3 months here) and it involves 1 hour of personal study and 2 hours of comp. study every day. We woke up and within 15 minutes it was raining torrentially - it smelled divine. It also reminded me of how I thought it would never rain and I didn't have a raincoat/umbrella. Luckily, it stopped before we went out.
That afternoon/evening we had 4 appointments drop on us, and we dragged a member missionary around trying to visit less active members that the bishop asked us to check on. No one was home. Or if they were home, they were sick. I actually wasn't too bothered by all this, since it was my first day and all, but my trainer was getting pretty frustrated. Expecially when we went to teach Joe, the member-turned-Messianic-Jew. He had stopped going to church because we celebrated the Sabbath on Sunday when God told the Jews to celebrate it on Saturday. We found out he'd actually never read the Book of Mormon more than a bit, he'd just gotten baptized because he wanted to be baptized somewhere and the missionaries showed up. It was actually the turning point of my day, since I felt the spirit prompting me to promise Joe that he'd receive an answer about the sabbath if he read and prayed about the Book of Mormon. He stared at me, the spirit super strong in the room, and then said something akin to, "But I'm going down this path right now and I'm stuck on this bible that the Lord gave me and I'm not gonna." And then he told us about his plans to be circumsized.
That night, though, we had a little bit more luck. We went to teach this 11 year-old boy named Isaiah who's family had been baptized but didn't attend church. He's getting baptized Saturday, and we taught him the 10 commandments, about prophets, and what questions he'd be asked in his baptismal interview. His aunt, uncle, and mom were there, and I actually ended up teaching his aunt about the priesthood (she'd been baptized years ago, loved it, and was asking me if she could baptize someone into another church and if it'd be the same thing). It was great.
 I'm excited to be here, and I'm praying for you all - I know God is watching over you for me. I ask him to every day.
Sister Dunkley

MTC Pictures

"Being True to the Mish"

" We didn't see the sign to stay off of the statue until after we took pictures."

 Our district

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Yay Seniority! -- Week Two

Sept. 27 --

I got my itinerary. Less than a week after I got here, to my great amusement. We're also the "senior" district in our zone now, as the other one just left. We leave next Monday, so the next time I write I'll be in TX. We fly out to Dallas first, and then back to Lubbock - this amuses me greatly that traveling further makes for a cheaper ticket, but it does make sense. So! I'll be going the furthest east in my life next Monday! Let's hope I don't melt or something from it.

I saw a hot air balloon the other day while I was biking. It was only up there for a few minutes, then it came down, so it's actually really lucky I saw it. It pretty much made my day/mission, because it reminded me that I'll be in New Mexico, and hopefully I'll get to see a few hot air balloons while I'm down southwest again.
In other news, my companion asked me if I was a vegetarian because all she ever saw me eat was salads and desserts! I've noticed my tray several times and how accurate I was at picking my "carrots and chocolate" diet out - I always get a salad, some other fruit/vegetables, and whatever fabulous dessert they have. I'll have to sneak a camera in and take a picture sometime. It really is an amusing sight.
One very nice thing that I've discovered is that being a missionary is not nearly invasive as I thought. I very much feel like a missionary, but I also feel just like myself. Basically a well-behaved version of myself. But I do have moments where I forget and general amusement ensues. For instance, Sis. Crane (my comp) tried to wake me up the other day, but I wouldn't listen to her stream of "Sister Dunkley....Sister Duuuuuuuuuuunkley..." Finally, in the exact same voice, she said "Tia...." and I popped right up. Clearly my subconcious hasn't caught on yet.
Last Sunday, in fact, we all (the sisters in the district) went and dropped my comp off to a meeting (she's the coordinating sister, whatever that means *grin*) and then went to a computer lab to do our online study, which usually consists of watching The District videos, taking surveys, and reading out of the handbook and such. So, we're sitting there, all pretty and ready for the day, and I look down from the monitor and see my bright red flip flops on my feet. I'd totally forgotten to change my shoes (for any who don't know, flip flops are not allowed as a part of missionary attire, only for the showers)! I was dressed all crisp and pretty for church in my white, ironed shirt, and I had flip flops on! It was great, actually, because no one noticed. I've decided to add that to my list of things to ask God - how many people noticed my unintentional flagrance of the missionary handbook.
Well, I must away, my time's almost out. I love you all and I'm praying for you all, don't you think otherwise. I know God will bless you all while I'm out, so please ask for those blessings! Don't live below your privileges! I want to know that you're all well taken care of.

Sister Dunkley

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Week One

Excerpt from Tia's First letter.... Sept. 20

My first few days were hectic compared to now, but I can honestly say I wasn't stressed out one bit. All of us sisters in the room bonded really fast and just had an easy time of getting used to the MTC. One thing I remember (it seems so long ago - I can't believe I saw you guys less than a week ago) is that the power in my hall was out, so when my host and I got in, what we saw was an empty, silent, darkness. Honestly, it was the weirdest thing, because you felt the spirit all around you, but horror and suspense movies had taught you that Freddie Kreuger would be jumping out at you at any moment. Odd.

Another random funny story is how incredibly gullible we were our first day (first off, everyone is incredibly nice to you, saying welcome and telling you where to go before you even realize you're lost). Our Zone Leader faked an Irish accent and convinced us all that he was from Dublin. Yeah, he went about 20 minutes like that, explaining things, till suddenly, no warning involved, he started talking with an American accent and claiming that he was from Smithfield, UT, or something like that.

I pretty much live for gym so that I can go play volleyball. It's fabulous. I've already gotten several raspberries from diving (I impress the elders with my devotion to the hit) and I just about die when they kick the ball. Which they do. All. The. Time. Good job for conditioning me, Mom. I've resisted lecturing them about it thus far, but I don't know how much longer I can stand

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tia Enters the MTC

Wednesday, September 14, 2011, Dad drove Tia to the MTC where she pulled up to a curb full of missionary escorts, unloaded her suitcases, and disappeared through the front doors to begin her labor of love.  We can't wait for her first letter to hear how the rest of the day went.  As a family we decided to honor her big day and her future mission home by eating steak at TEXAS Roadhouse that night.