Monday, October 10, 2016

Of Lazy Cats, Laundry, and Stinkin' Adorable Cousins

Dear Everyone,
I've been struggling to find a common theme in my week other than naps with my marathon-status napping cat, who has become my napping buddy. He wins our 'longest nap' competition every time. It's so great to have a sleepy cat!
This week has been an eclectic collection of experiences! There are so many moving pieces. If I had to characterize my week with one phrase, I think it would have to do with watching.

Everyone in my family seems so similar to how they were when I left, but they've all changed subtly, growing brighter as they work to help their talents become refined. My little sister has discovered within herself a proclivity for the dramatic and a great love for dance. The dramatic part wasn't a surprise (at all), but the dance part was! I've watched her practice in astonishment. She's a very talented, very expressive dancer, complete with on-point facial expressions. Since when does Claire dance?! Apparently since I left.

Almost every day feels like another preparation day (which feels bizarre) other than the part where I can watch t.v. again (which is even a little more bizarre). I've been enjoying the BBC series Sherlock. It makes my thinking brain happy! (:

Pop quiz: What do missionaries feverishly do every preparation day?

What is: Laundry!
Old habits die hard, I guess; each day when I arise and prepare without donning a classy skirt as part of my outfit, I feel a compelling urge to do laundry. It's been cracking me up. I'm pleased to report that the laundry room is now roughly four loads short of empty! Good thing everyone in my family has been too busy to do their own laundry lately. I might be a little bit lost otherwise. XD

A general health update: I feel well on a more consistent basis when I take naps every day! I still have my dizzy and shaky spells, but they happen less frequently now which is good. Last Monday was my first doctor's appointment since being home, and it quickly became apparent that they're hungry for data! They looked at the information we already had and then ordered a ton of new tests. They still have no idea what's going on. My return appointment (I love using that phrase! Missionary status for life.) is about a week from today, and the physician's assistant said that we should have enough data at that point to decide where to look next. From what I gather, they're deciding between sending me to a gastrointestinal specialist, an allergist, a nutritionist, a neurologist, and a rheumatologist. Fun, fun. I watched the phlebotomist gather my blood for more tests as the PA handed a box of vials to my mom with the request that I go home and gather samples of my exhaled breath for yet another test.

Hmmm. Are these doctors dementors, or vampires? I'll let you know when I decide which.
Okay, now for the highlight of my week!!!!
Aunt Holli (my look-alike Auntie)
 My sweet Aunt Holli reached out to me and asked if I wanted to come hang out with her, my uncle, and their three kiddos for a couple of days. Sure thing! My Aunt Holli is a little ray of sunshine and my cousins are most aptly described as pleasantly precocious and downright adorable. I can hold children again! I sat on their living-room couch last night and watched sweet baby Felicity on my lap. She bobbled back and forth, a little off balance as her little muscles worked overtime to keep her steady. No surprises! If I had eyes that big, I think I would have trouble holding my head up straight too!! (:
It got me thinking about the scripture in Alma about how very small and simple means are often the way that great things are brought to pass (I think it's Alma 37:5-6). There were times when Felicity was so off-balance that she wriggled like a fish (a really cute fish) and got really hard to hold on to! Her tiny major muscle groups are still learning their roles, and sometimes they over-correct or don't engage on time, making it necessary for her stabilizer muscles to engage in order to keep her upright. Stabilizer muscles are so small, but so essential to help a body remain steady! I got thinking about all of the small and simple things that I do in my life that may seem to the untrained eye to make no difference. For example, reading my scriptures each day or smiling often at random people or brushing my teeth each morning and evening (you got me - you only need a nose to detect the difference there). Despite the low visibility, the simple things are truly so important in helping me (and everyone around me who has a nose) stay healthy and happy!

The moral of the story? Small muscles and simple daily actions are often the most important factors in keeping a body upright.
Anyway, I love y'all!!
Hope you have a fabulous week and sunshine in your souls! (:

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Hellooooo, Everybody!

It's Monday. It's Monday, and I don't know what to do with my little non-missionary adult self yet. 

Open scene.

It's Wednesday. 

You trip out of the airplane, too excited to remember not to step on the hem of your skirt. You are, after all, still a missionary. You're still wearing a skirt. Right. 

You walk out and look for your companion in a momentary panic (where did she go? President is going to kill me!) before you realize that you're not actually a missionary for much longer; you flew home alone, and you don't have a companion to keep tabs on anymore. Right. 

You wonder whether you should text your family and let them know where you are. You realize you don't have a phone. You wonder why it doesn't bother you that you don't have a phone, then you remember! You were the designated driver the last two transfers, you companion always had the phone. Right. 

Carefully you proceed alone and without a phone into a crowd of strangers. They all had to pass airport security to get in here, right? They can't be that dangerous. You look both ways more carefully than you ever did when you were jay-walking in the streets of Baltimore. Oh, the irony. An airport in the Sunny Valley, more threatening than Baltimore? Yep, definitely pre-post-missionary confusion. 

Remember, you're still a missionary. It's not post-missionary confusion yet. 

You look past the tall guy with the flowery travel pillow around his neck and notice the signs pointing to the Celestial Kingdom? No, just the baggage claim. Sounds like heaven to me, heaven is wherever my family is. 

Note to self: you really need to sleep when you get home so that you can read words properly again. 

That flight was so long, but the flight was done in no time compared to the excruciatingly slow descent down the escalator. You see your family for a split second before they spot you. They spot you, and you quickly remember why you're the quietest one in your family. Your mom scoops you up almost before you get off of the escalator, who knows where your luggage went and who cares?! Hopefully one of your siblings took it, and not the guy with the flowery neck pillow.

There is a hurricane in the Salt Lake City Airport, and you are in the eye of it, the world moving so quickly around you that you can barely keep track of it all. You get the best hugs and you feel a pang that your dad isn't there to hug you too and you grin and laugh as your 6'1" little brother sweeps you clean off of your feet into a bear hug and you try to be happy that your little sister is taller than you (you are now the runt of the family), and you feel a crazy combination of elated, exhausted, ecstatic, and homesick, because your heart is held very much captive by the beautiful people at the departure end of that 747 you just disembarked. Home will never be just one place again.

One thing they don't tell you about is how tired you will be. Your legs tremble to support your weary frame as you embrace the last uncle. Your fingers fail to grasp strongly the hand of your stake president as he thanks you for your service and tells you to take off your name tag by midnight. 

Close scene.

I still feel like I'm walking in a dream.

I don't know that I have many helpful thoughts to share this week. 'Don't die' is always a worthy admonition! We'll go with that.

When I got home, I didn't know how to deal with life. Still don't. What I can't tell you could be formed into a list so exhaustive that I don't know anyone who would read it. 

What I can tell you is this, that God looks out for us and wants us to experience joy. 

General Conference was this weekend (#ldsconf), and I heard no more frequent message than "you are loved, it will all be okay," and "you can have joy in the now no matter how hard the now is."

Anyway, food for thought. It's a good day to be happy! (:

Love you all,


Monday, September 26, 2016

Crime-Scene Tape & a Veil of Forgetfulness

My dear family (both legally related and unofficially adopted, I seriously just love you all to death),

A few weeks ago, Sister Botchway and I saw a dead body in the streets of Baltimore. Not quite what you were expecting? Not what we were expecting either. His eyes were still wide with adrenaline, limbs frozen in a running form. The tendons in his neck were still straining as if to look behind him as he stared blankly into the evening sky. He was resting in a puddle. It hadn't rained that day.

We were shocked.

Who wouldn't be? This young man, this child of God, had seen a sharp end to a short life. A  police officer stood a short distance away, jaded. He poured his strained weariness into a cold plastic walkie-talkie instead of into a rescue effort. As far as he could tell, the young man was gone. No pulse. As far as the world is concerned, this young man only exists as a memory, a gruesome statistic, and as a cold corpse lying in a dark grave. They've forgotten the hope that we all once knew.

In the face of yellow crime-scene tape and a veil of forgetfulness, I have no right to remain silent. God's plan for His children does not end with a bullet to the back, nor does it end with an insidious cancer or heart failure or a grizzly bear attack or a still-birth.

Our Heavenly Father's plan for us doesn't end in death!

When we got home that night, my mind was called to deep reflection on the constitution of my life. What have I been doing? Why have I been doing it? If I died today, what would be left behind? A gargantuan pile of unsorted school papers? No. There has to be more to Naomi Rapier than that.

I've been pondering on what I want to leave behind in the world when I die, and more recently, I've been pondering on what legacy I want to leave in my stead as a returned missionary.

I can't think of a better legacy to leave than happiness. I'm happy! I'm happy, and I want the people around me to be happy always, not because there aren't challenges, but because they know who they are and what they stand for. I have never been happier than I am when I'm helping other people to develop their happiness in this lasting way, which I've had numerous opportunities to do while serving as a missionary.

When people understand why they are on this earth, where they came from, where they're going, and what to do along the way, they're happy. Working diligently to fulfill a righteously purpose that you have confidence in makes you happy! This is the trend I've seen.

The reason I mention the dead body in the streets of Baltimore is because it reminded me of my purpose. I'm here on earth to learn! I'm here to grow, and to love people, to help them grow, and to be happy. That's what Heavenly Father wants for us, because we are His children. If you want to know more about your purpose on earth, check this out:

What can I say right now? My emotions are running high and my time as a consecrated missionary with a tag is running out. Tomorrow, I'll have been in the mission field for nine months. Due to an unsolved health problem involving shakiness and fatigue that prevent me from doing my work as a missionary, I'll be returning from my mission this week, right after my half-way mark.
Saying goodbye to Sister Carpenter
Even though I'm coming home, but I've discovered that I like writing! The adventures never end! I may keep up these blog posts. I won't be offended if you ask me to take you off my list. (:

Signing off as a missionary with a tag, and love you always,

Sister Naomi Lydia Rapier (:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Oh, to Forgive and be Free

Dear Family,

There is such a peace in moving forward, as Elder Robert Gay has said, in the Lord's way.

For as long as I've been able to understand the world, I have sought to forgive my father, who seemed to act in a way that hurt me at every turn. He died a little over a year ago, and the weight of the burden I've carried with me these many years has become apparent.

I've struggled with it.

Yesterday, Brian, a recent convert of the BYSA Elders, was in considerable distress. He was experiencing serious doubts and fears. His faith was struggling. As I heard his words of pain and confusion, my heart felt drawn out of me to comfort him. I testified concerning the mercy of our Savior - how he's always there for us.

As I begged him to give himself a chance to grow before giving up on himself, the words came from my lips seemingly of their own accord. I told of my struggle to forgive my Daddy and of the empowering effect of Christ's mercy in helping me to do so. I found myself telling him that after all of these years, I had finally been able to forgive my father. I was surprised by these words, but searched myself and found them to be true.

Oh, to be free of this burden after so long and to feel my full love for my Daddy - unblemished by my ugly grudge! I feel as if I could fly.

I exhorted Brian to please not give up on himself and to trust that he will someday recognize all the growth he's already made. He truly can do it, if he only puts his mind to it and believes.

Oh, to be free. What a wonderful gift.

Sending all of my love and a joyous declaration of our Savior's love,

Sister Naomi Rapier

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"What's Different About Your Church?"

Dear People Who I Love,

I love public transportation. I meet some of my favorite people through public transportation!

We taught a man named JT this week. He's from Winchester! We walked by him sitting in his car on the way back to the bus stop from an appointment that fell through, and then had to turn around and go back to the house because I accidentally left my water bottle there. As we passed his car, he stuck his head out and asked, hey, are you Mormons? We said yes. He said, where are you going? I (rather sheepishly) explained that we were going back for my erstwhile forgotten hydration canister (not in those words, I'm paraphrasing pedantically, potentially purposefully). He asked what was different about our church and what he would gain from being a member. He explained that he was already Christian; so what makes the difference?

I love it when those words come out of someone's mouth.

We began discussing how God is his loving Heavenly Father, and how He wants for JT to be happy. JT agreed, sharing with us his strong belief that God does look out for him. He said that right now, he's desperately in need of money to support his little family. He asked how we would advise him on this matter according to our system of beliefs. I almost started crying. Such a tender and genuine love I saw reflected in his face as he spoke of his wife and little boy. We opened up the scriptures with him, but then I couldn't remember where I was when I read the answer to his question. So I closed my scriptures and paraphrased for him the words of the prophet Jacob found in The Book of Mormon:

"Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.

"But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.

"And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted."

Jacob 2:18-19 (   (I found it after the fact)

We talked with him about how having a living prophet on the earth today with the priesthood authority to act in God's name and to guide God's people enables us to more fully seek the kingdom of God, because modern revelation from God allows us continued insight on how to build God's kingdom despite the challenges of today's world. We testified that as long as he put God and his family first, God would always provide a way through things. We also invited him to find out for himself by reading The Book of Mormon.

I love pleasant people!! We asked if he'd like to have missionaries came see him and his family, and it turns out that he wasn't particularly interested in exploring another faith tradition, he was just curious to hear our take on things. He thanked us for stopping to talk to him and told us to be safe. It made our day. (:

Sister Botchway is awesome!!!!! She has been so kind as I've been sick the past few days and not able to do much.
Thanks so much to everyone who has written me letters and emails! I'm not super great at responding all the time. Just know that you make my week all the brighter (:

Love always,

Sister Naomi Rapier

Monday, August 29, 2016

Peanut Butter and Brass Knuckles

Hi Family and Friends!!

Hey guess what?!!

STAYING IN BYSA FOR ANOTHER TRANSFER WOOOOOO!!!!! I am so excited! My new companion will be Sister Botchway.

We've been working hard all week. Sister Tripple has that somewhat lengthy list of things to do before she goes home; we've been busy to say the least.

One of the things I like best about being busy is that it means that we get to ride public transportation a lot!! It probably sounds weird, but I love public transportation. There are so many wonderful people to talk to!

Last Wednesday, while we were on the bus, we met this awesome lady! Her name is Andrea. She's Catholic by background, and her husband just left her and her seven-year-old son. My heart was really sad to hear that story. We were talking and she expressed how helpless she's feeling. She said, "I've done everything right. I got a college degree, I got married, I stayed faithful and tried to make things work, but now he's left me and I can't find a job, I feel so helpless and frustrated. What did I do wrong?"

I was familiar with part of that feeling, the 'what did I do wrong' part. I struggle with thinking I have to be perfect and sometimes clinging to unrealistic expectations for myself. As I watched her earnest eyes start to tear up, my heart went out to her; I asked if I could share a scripture that helped me through some of my hardest times. She graciously agreed, so I flipped open my worn scriptures to this passage:

"And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;
 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:26-27, page 510 in The Book of Mormon)

I testified to her that this is true, and that God truly does support us in our weakness. Her countenance changed, the worry lines around her eyes and on her forehead softened. It warmed me so much to see that one of my favorite scriptures had boosted her above her desolation of despair. I can only imagine what she must be feeling with all that's going on in her life right now. 

We asked if she would come to church with us, she said yes if she could bring her son along. She almost laughed with relief when I explained that the family congregation that she would be attending is very friendly to children of all ages. My bus stop approached. I gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and the phone number of the Sister Missionaries who work with the family congregation (I work with the young single adult congregation). 

I turned back after I got off the bus. My last sight of her was her holding the book with great respect and contemplation written on her face, seeming to be wondering if it was as precious as I had told her it was. I keep flashing back to that image over and over again in my mind. You have no idea yet, Andrea, but you'll know soon. The words in that book will make you rich in happiness and resplendent in an everlasting peace. Just keep reading.

Wanna hear about our adventure this week?!

Church has never been so interesting as it is every week in the Baltimore YSA ward.

As of 5 p.m. on Saturday, we didn't have any investigators planning to come to church. Just four hours later we found ourselves in a much different situation:

- A local gang member got in touch with the Elders and asked if they were the LDS missionaries. They said yes. He asked if so-and-so was a member of the congregation. They said yes, and asked why. The guy said - good, I have some unfinished business, and stated his intention to come to church. The missionaries asked the guy who he was. He identified himself as an old friend of so-and-so and a member of this local gang. And then he stopped replying to their texts.

- We heard from an investigator who we know carries a concealed weapon at all times. He had decided to come to church.

- Another investigator, who is a college athlete, let us know he would be coming with his NCAA-approved security.

- A "back to school" themed munch and mingle was scheduled for after church. We learned there would be a peanut butter and jelly cake.

- Then we realized - we weren't sure if any of our investigators had a peanut allergy.

Do you see the problem here?

Three people planning on coming to church. With guns. One of them possibly planning to kill a member of the congregation. All of them possibly with a peanut allergy.


I must say, I never have considered the possibility of having three armed investigators attend sacrament meeting until Saturday night. That would definitely be a first!

Sunday morning rolls around. We got to church, and Elder Peery was joking around and asked Sister Tripple if she might need some pink brass knuckles. She said she was okay and suggested that he give them to me instead! Elder Peery said, and I quote, "No, that would be like giving a bunny rabbit a hand grenade." That made me laugh. A lot. He didn't know that I heard XD

Sacrament meeting was uneventful; no one who said they were coming to church actually came! Disappointing, but also a relief. 

Near the end of second hour, we got a text from our college athlete buddy saying that he and his security were both here. We went and found them, welcoming them into their final class! I was super relieved; the athlete had been joking about NCAA approved security, he had just brought one of his friends with him. Phwew!

Now, I know that you're all wondering. Did the gangster come to church? And, perhaps more importantly, did he have a peanut allergy?

I am pleased to report that neither gangsters nor severe peanut allergies appeared at church! And the cake was delicious. :)

Prayers truly are answered!

I love you all dearly, and if any of you are wanting a copy of my favorite book, you can get a free copy here:

Have a lovely week, my people! Much love (:

-Your Sister, Naomi Rapier

Sister Tripple's last week

Monday, August 22, 2016

Christ Can Make us Whole Again

Even when stunted by mistakes, we can find new growth in Christ.
I've met several sister missionaries who have personally been affected by pornography addiction. The stories vary - it was was an ex-boyfriend, an ex-fiance, an ex-brother-in-law - but the result is always pain and suffering.
Pornography burns the possibility of growth; it renders a person to be as a burnt-out stump. Pornography drains the life and vigor from relationships. Oh, the pain this plague inflicts on our families and communities.
Addictions consume. Suffering ensues. 

Where would we be without the redeeming hope of Jesus Christ? 

The atonement is real. Christ can remake a burnt-out stump into a healthy tree should the tree be desirous and willing to work for the gift of miraculous healing. Christ can sooth and comfort the loved ones of an addict. Christ can heal us and make us whole again. 

Love you,
Sister Naomi Rapier