My Arrival in the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission!

By | 2:27 PM
Wednesday, May 22

we woke up at 2:00 am and gathered all our bags and met on the bus at 3:00 am.  awful.
the rest is a blur.  we were on a tiny plane... very scary.  we landed in Denver for a few hours.  I bought a smoothie.  we flew again in an even smaller plane... I tried to sleep, but there was a lot of turbulence and I ended praying the whole time :/
when we landed we were picked up by president and sister shumway, at the mission home we had a very lovely devotional meeting thing... that I am ashamed to admit I basically slept through... everyone did. 

we spent the night at a members house because the mission home was full of guys. 

Thursday May 23

so confusing.  I was mostly asleep the whole day and i just allowed everyone to move me from point A to point B.
we drove for 2 hours to a walmart parking lot in Van Buren Arkansas where a couple of elders were already waiting.  and then we waited some more... oh my goodness!!!  3 hours we sat in that parking lot.  yay missionary work :(
finally my new companion arrived, Sister Daines.  but we still had to wait for Sister Wilson's Companion to show up, cuz we couldn't let her be alone with all the Elders.  bleck.  a total of 5 hours later we got to leave for my official mission area.
the car ride was another 3 hours.  omg, the torture! 
the amount of green out here is awesome... but not 3 hours awesome :/
I wanted to sleep so bad!  but that is against mission rules... so I was just quiet and grumpy all day. 
we got to our apartment at 7:00.  Sister Daines took me to a very pathetic looking pizza buffet and then back to the apartment where I unpacked and slept like I had never slept before!

Friday, May 24

Thursday is weekly planning, but because we spent the whole day on the road we did weekly planning on Friday.
sleep is awesome and weekly planning is a calming experience.  we ate chips and dip and ice cream and cookies and laid out on the living room floor and just had a party!  awesome :)
I met my first family, the Madisons.  He is a photographer who also builds bikes.  we had a bunch of plastic bags to give him because (like grandpa)  he loves to make cools things with recycled plastic bags!  so cool.  they are in-active but super receptive to the gospel.  I love it! 

after meeting them, we drove to a dinner appointment with an active member family.  they live on the outskirts of town and we had to cross the rail road tracks to get there... yeah... there was a train just parked on the tracks.  we called the family and asked "how do we get around this train"  and they answered "you don't, we will just heat up the food in another hour" 
yeah.... an hour later the train finally moved and we got to their house.  Brother and Sister Ferrell are both converts to the church and they shared with me their conversion story.  so cool.  their house is so beautiful, surrounded by the trees and sitting perfectly in the hills.  awesome. 

Saturday May 25

we realised that there are barely any miles left on our car for the month.... so we went walking. 
I am in so much pain.
tracting sucks... and it's humid. 
no one was home. 
we did get one lady to answer the door.  Ruby.  we smiled a lot, and she laughed a lot.  super nice.  Sister Daines commited her to read the Book of Mormon. and she said she would love to!  we were so excited!  on Sunday though, during branch council, we were informed that someone had very nicely left a book of Mormon on the front steps of the church.  oh well.

Sunday, May 26

so, let me just tell you how amazing this place is! 
Mena, Arkansas is TINY!!! 
these people have the one building... and I really need to get a picture to you... maybe you can google map it?  but the building sits by a lake!  there are rose bushes everywhere!  let me repeat... the building looks out over a lake!  OMG so amazing!  it's beautiful here!  so green and perfect... and the building sits near a LAKE!  gah!  I walked around the building with Sister Daines the other day like I used to do with you, mom, and wow!  it was so much more awesome! 

Also, because the branch is so tiny here, apparently they get the missionaries to speak a lot.  so I really just bore my testimony and shared the scriptures Isaiah 6:8  Jeremiah 17:7  and Alma 29:9-10.  it was awesome.  there were maybe 30 people there. 
I sang with the choir though... whats really cool about the Mena Branch is that although it's tiny, everyone sings!  the choir director is Brother Mcclanahan, he is also the Sunday school teacher and he is so cool!  he lives over an hour away from the branch building and he is so faithful and familiar with the blessings of coming to church.  I understand that on average people travel 30 min to and from church each Sunday.  so powerful! 
the lesson in Sunday school was about temples and we ended up talking a lot about how to organize a bus that can take the brothers and sisters to the temple at 1 a month... the drive is at least 4 hours to the nearest temple.  I started to feel really guilty for my list of Utah temples I wanted to see, and the ones we never did get to. 
relief society was super cool.  there were maybe 10 people there, and so we all just sat in a circle around the teacher who sat at the head and very easily directed us in a gospel discussion... at least 7 people told their conversion story.  so cool.
I'm told the branch isn't always that small.  there is a family here called the Davis family that reminds me a lot of the Oliphants in that there are the parents and the children and the children's children who all grew up in the branch and come to church.  apparently the Davis family had a special family reunion this week... so none of them were there.
I asked sister Daines how many people are usually there at church with the Davis family, she said "without the Davis family we get about 30 people here, with the Davis family the Branch is about 80 strong every Sunday."  wow!
Funny Things: 
the branch is very focused on two things-
#1 there was a tornado in Mena about 5 years ago... although no one was hurt and everything is find now, people still talk a lot about it.
#2 apparently 15-20 years ago Elder David A. Bednar was the stake president here.  yeah... I heard that mentioned at least 10 times at church :/
Funny Moment:
I was really excited because I saw a turtle just wandering down the street.  I ran to get a picture of it but then a car came and..... I will have nightmares about that.
I wasn't worried at all about giving a talk in sacrament meeting... I easily found appropriate scriptures and I shared a beautiful thought without much planning or pain on my part.  I just opened my mouth and the words came.  so awesome. my companion says she was set apart with a strong stomach... well I was set apart with the ability to find words when I usually wouldn't have any. 
More Blessings:
so after all the tracting we did on Saturday, I hurt a lot.  let me tell you, Traumeel is amazing!!! 
Testimony Growth:

Church!!!  I am so blown away by the these beautiful people who attend church so faithfully!  they travel so far!  and on top of that, there are certainly plenty of other churches around here... literally at least on on every corner! 
what a blessing Utah is!  I am struggling with the lack of LDS members around here... I feel like everyone hates me... but as one of the ladies in Sunday school said: "it don't matter if They'd think me dumb, I know God loves me and I'm proud with that!"
The Area:
  • yeah, no one here has teeth.... seriously.
  • I got off the plane and my first question was "where are the mountains!"
  • the people here think they are living in the mountains.... they are very confused.
  • T.V. is right about hillbillies... they are everything you would think. 
  • there is a man in our apartment complex who I see in the garbage every morning.  He "recycles". 
  • so. much. roadkill.
  • on the plus side, so many bunnies!!!!
  • Wal-mart is the center of this town... so funny.
  • every house is super dilapidated.  I thought our apartment sucked.... it's like a mansion compared to what most of these people are dealing with. :(
  • TRAINS!!!  holy crow!  every 5 min the stupid trains go by!  so annoying and so loud! 
  • the water is GROSS!  oh dear oh dear oh dear... I very quickly got Sister Daines to get us to walmart and I bought some bottled water.  what sucks most is they don't have a very awesome selection of water here either.... so I'm drinking the only "spring water" I could find... it's not bad but not my favorite. 
ok, so.... thank you so much for reading my rant.  that was fun :)
<3 Sister Longberg 
Oh!  and FYI, this is my new Address! 
508 South Cherry st.
Apartment 8A
Mena AR 71953
I love handwritten letters :)
I hate that these computers do not have spell check :(
get Eric and Grandpa to E-mail me!  seriously!  I get 2 hours to E-mail!  I'm stoked! :)  President Shumway is awesome :)
GAH!  I forgot to add one of the best parts about my area!!!
there is a senior couple here that live in the apartment across the way from us!  so cool!  Elder and Sister Shaw!  they give us rides when we need them, they have food all the time, they take us to church.... later tonight they are taking us with them to teach a lesson! 
I love these guys! Sister Shaw is so sweet.... but Elder Shaw is a teddy bear!  I love this guy!  he reminds me of Grandpa :)  so cool. 

I am in the perfect place for me, with the perfect companion and the amazing blessing of senior missionaries nearby! 


ok, bye till next Monday :) 

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