Monday, November 23, 2015

Itchy Scratchies and the Psychiatric Ward

November 23, 2015

Cześć Moja Umiłowana Rodzina,

Oh my heavens, you are all going to laugh your heads off at this week. I think I am only able to laugh about it in retrospect! I really do love my mission, even with all of the random crazy, sometime unpleasant things that happen.

The beginning of this week I had the blessed opportunity to spend time with my old companion from Gdańsk, Sister Bąk, before she went home. She came in on Monday night from Wrocław to stay the night with my companionship and spend her last day with me before heading off. We hauled her ancient hard cover green suitcases through the city to my apartment and we reminisced late into the night about our missions and our futures.  It was interesting to look back at how far we have come on our missions and to realize that it is drawing to a close, much earlier for her than me. We dragged ourselves out of bed on Tuesday and she spent some time with Kaja while I went to district meeting then we met up

for lunch again and I got to be her companion for the day. We had manakin crepes with some of her mission friends, walked around old town a bit, then caught a bus down to the mission home. While she was in her departure interview I played with the Edgren's adorable grand-kids who have been visiting for the past couple of weeks. We had a nice big family dinner with President and Sister Edgren and their daughter and son-in-law and laughed about missionary life. Then there were sweet testimonies and my group’s farewell video. Yes, I got a sneak peak of the departing sisters group. As I watched the mission and watched one of my best friends leaving the mission I was just struck with a lot of love and gratitude. I really have loved my mission, and the people, and my companions. I really do see the hand of the Lord in my life, in Sister Bąk's life, in the lives of all of the members, missionaries, and people here. It was a wonderful experience to remind me of the good things, and the good things yet to come. I left that evening with a renewed desire to work hard, to hoe to the end of the row as Grandpa Dance always said.
So after Sister Bąk left the mission home, Sister Gustafson, another one of my previous companions from Lodz, came on exchanges with me. This is when all crazy broke loose. I had been an itchy little monster from sometime around Tuesday morning. Wednesday I finally called Sister Edgren about it. She told me I needed to do a lice check, and I just laughed and told her that I am extremely clean person, especially my hair, but we checked anyways. We couldn't find anything for a long time and then I looked down on my hairbrush and we found a little bug just running along one of my hairs full of my blood. I freaked out and called Sister

Edgren back and was like "OH MY HECK I HAVE LICE". By the time we got done with the meeting we were in, all of the drug stores were closed and we couldn't buy lice shampoo. I called Sister Carlson, another one of my previous companions; because she went to beauty school and she told me a natural remedy would be mayonnaise. So we did the only thing we could do and bought a jar of mayonnaise. Sister Gustafson was a champ and picked out all of the ones from my hair that she could find, even a jumpy rather frisky louse. Once we figured out what they looked like, we found a lot of them. It just really surprised me how small they are. Then the painting of my head with a jar of mayonnaise began. We wrapped my head in a plastic bad to sleep in but the oil dripping from the bag was so bad I had to wear a toilet paper scarf to sleep. Needless to say I didn't sleep much.
Mayonnaise did not work by the way!! 
Then the next morning I had to be hung over the tub and sprayed down, showered, ran to the drug store with wet hair and finally got our hands on some lice shampoo, showered again, then spent five hours sorting through every strand of hair picking out lice. Our exchange got extended from its already long 4 days to five days so Sister Gustafson could keep helping me pick out lice. We have to go through my hair every single day for the next 10 days, deep clean the apartment, wash my sheets every day, and vacuum every day. On top of that everyone goes running screaming whenever I walk in a room and I am like, wait guys, I swear I am a clean person! So along with juggling my little lice buddies we have been trying to still get work done. We still even got to go to Legionowo outside of Warsaw to visit our investigator Kasia and her family and take a sweet member some dinner. We taught about divine nature and individual worth. I just thought it was funny sitting there teaching about confidence and selfworth, while I looked like a run over super self-conscious dog. So I have been a bit sleep deprived all week from staying up late to fight the lice and my scalp is really tender and itchy from being poked, prodded, pulled, scraped, mayonnaised, and chemically bathed. Oh the things you experience on your mission. Someone called me this week and told me that the southern sisters have dubbed me the "Job" of the mission. I just thought that was funny because all of the crazy things that have happened are usually humorous later.

Here is where the other super interesting event of the week comes in. We went to visit a dear friend had had recently been committed to a psychiatric hospital earlier this week for some things that she was struggling with. She is honestly one of the most beautiful kind people I have ever met! I took another one of the sisters from my district with me, Sister Craig, to go and find her hospital after church yesterday. It was about an hour outside of Warsaw in Ząbi by bus and then we had to walk down this long country neighborhood lane just following the map out to where she said her hospital was located. After a few miles, it starts to turn foresty on one side of the road, but all of the leaves are gone so the trees are bare and the sun is starting to go down. This creepy looking building suddenly rises up from behind the massive grey wall on our left and Sister Craig was like, oh no, that has got to be it. Well, yep it was. We approached the security gates and the guard let us in. As we walk up, these men were pressed up against the windows watching us approach the building. We had to ring the bell and a nurse came down and unlocked the doors to let us in. Then they led us upstairs and took us through another locked door where we were actually inside the psych ward. As we walked into the ward everyone turned and looked at us. Like picture 1970's horror psych film. Yellow walls, people in robes and orange pajamas with stripes wandering around in a daze, beds crammed down the hallway and 4 people crammed into every tiny bedroom. We were led down the hall until we finally found our sweet friend. Her wonderful mother was there and we got to meet her, which was nice. We went back out to the commons area where we sat down at a table to talk with her. When we pulled out our Book of Mormons to share a message, suddenly our table was surrounded by five or six men just staring. They pulled up chairs and starting trying to talk with us. They just had empty or really sad eyes. After we shared our thought we got introduced to a new friend who ended up bawling and begging us not to leave her there. Poor sweet lady. They were all really nice people, it was a sad experience seeing people that much mentally struggling. I truly believe that God has a ton of love for all of his children, no matter what they struggle with. You could feel it, even in such a heartrending situation.

Well for the gospel part of this email. My verse of the week is Proverbs 27:7. I highly highly recommend looking this up. I would say this scripture describes my mission perfectly.

Love you all so much! Have a beautiful week
Sister Benson

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