Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Week #6 - October 27, 2009

Hey hey a todo!

Gosh, I'm just so excited to write you right now. Today just feels like a lovely day and I just want to laugh. It's pouring rain outside and I love it. Okay, anyway... we had a great week.

Wednesday was divisions which were awesome. We loaded the buses early in the morning and I went to the Guatamala Central mission. I was paired up in a trio with another hermana in the MTC and Hna. Buterbaugh who has been out for about 8 months. We walked out of the chapel and down the street and got on a bus to her area. Hna. Romero and I sat together and Hna. Buterbaugh sat next to a lady right in front of us. We watched as she started talking to her, pulled out her planner a few minutes later to write down her contact info and then pulled out a pamphlet for her a few minutes after that. We were so impressed. And that's how it's done... Our first appointment was dropping by the tortilla shack of a couple of investigators to teach them a lesson about obedience. Their place was about 15 sq ft but there was a huge flat stone with a fire underneath to cook the tortillas, a table and things stacked around so it felt even smaller. We squished onto a couple of crates in the corner and Hna. B gave most of the short lesson. I got to bear my testimony about obedience and then customers started coming for tortillas so the ladies got to work. There was a huge ball of dough on the wood table and a cloudy bowl of water next to it. Hna. B jumped up and started helping so we did too! One of the ladies got the right size dough ball and handed it over to one of us and then we tried to follow
her example and pat it into a little round corn tortilla about 6 inches in diameter. Needless to say it was a blast but we weren't very good at it. Sometimes they would just fix them a little and then throw them on the stone to cook but other times, they just put our little dough balls
(trying to be tortillas) back into the big pile of dough on the table. Haha. They were so nice and patient with us.

After that we contacted some people on our way to the next appointment. The appointment was with Carlos (14) who has a baptismal date next month. We watched Finding Faith in Christ with him and then bore our testimonies about the Savior. I love talking about the Savior! I also got to talk to him a little bit and get to know him. I told him I had a brother who was 14 too and then he liked to play the piano and cello and drums. :) Then we headed back to Hna. B's place for lunch and met up with a few other Hermanas. One of them was Aunt Gaye's neice (I can't think of her name at the moment) but she cooked for us and it was fun that we ran into each other. We had to be back to the bus pretty soon after lunch but we stopped to talk to a few more people on the way. I was a bit frustrated because I wish I understood more of what people were saying. Sometimes I get most of it, sometimes just a word here and there. But I know I'm getting better and I just need to be patient. Anyway, divisions were great and although I think the Hermanas we were with were great, it gave me a clearer picture of what I would do differently and how I want my mission to be.

On friday night we had Salon General (meeting with Pres. Christensen) and it was so good. That man is seriously inspired. I always leave the meetings with him feeling uplifted, excited about missionary work, and with a whole lot of things I want to improve on. What a good combination. Friday, the topic revolved around having a vision for your mission and setting goals to achieve that vision. He said a lot of good things about getting out of our comfort zones, entropy and how things will naturally become disordered if we don't visit them often, and how to set effective goals. Basically it inspired me so much. I want to be a much more goal oriented person for the rest of my life. Goals, written down and looked at daily, are SO important for all of us. But first we need to have a vision of who we want to be, what we want to accomplish. I want my mission to be effective, I want to be constantly striving to be more in line with PMG and the missionary handbook, I want to find new and better ways to bring people to Christ. I want to be the kind of companion who lifts by positive example, service and love. I am so grateful to be a missionary because I am learning new ways to grow and improve myself. There is an amazing transformation taking place in me and I already can't imagine my life without this experience. I am being confronted with my faults daily, and although that is tough sometimes, I keep from being discouraged because I know that I've been given this time to really work on the things I lack. Okay, there are a lot of other things I want to tell you so enough of that.

Yesterday we got to go to a youth camp for the church here called Las Colinas. It was a whole day of recreation basically and it was awesome. We were let loose (within the camp) and got to choose whatever we wanted to do. The two hermanas that were here three weeks before us, told us of a great hike so I took off with them and soon some others joined us. The hike was beautiful and turned out to be more of an obstacle course with ropes to swing on and climb, a big rope net, stumps to jump over and all sorts of things. I wish I could send pictures, but you'll just have to wait until I get into the field. After the hike, I played soccer for the rest of the time. We actually played on a big grass field today so it was really fun but tiring. I have gotten so much better at soccer. I play almost everday on the cement basketball sized courts at the CCM. It's actually a standard court here and the balls are smaller and heavier so they stay on the cement pretty well. It's all about foot skills. Anyway, I am getting better and having fun playing with all the Latinos. Both Hna. Kochevar and Hna. Story are soccer players (they are my other North American roommates and I love them) so they play too and we have a blast. Also, my shins are covered in bruises... ouch. I'll send a pic when I can.

Another funny thing. We (my companion, Hna. Kochevar, Hna. Story and I) decided that we eat like pigs here. We just pound our food every meal, I swear. Here in Central America, everyone says "provecho" to tell someone "bon apetite". The ladies who serve us always say it and the Latinos always say it as they walk by. But we've noticed (as we're stuffing our faces) that the Elders say it to us a lot more often, and we kind of look up for two seconds and smile with mouths full... It's kind of like "PRO-VE-CHO Hermanas! Holy cow, slow down chicas" Haha. We just laugh at ourselves and joke about how we're all a little bit gordita after just three weeks of being here.

We were a little bit sad this week because all the Latinos that we've come to know and love left last night. Cute Hna. Flores and her sweet companion Hna. España along with the Elders that we've grown attached to (in a strictly platonic way... :)) are all gone. We had a great time at Las Colinas with them and we all sang God be with you til we meet again together. But we're excited because the 20 of us North Americans that came together three weeks ago are now going to be the only NA's in the MTC! We are getting about 65 Latinos tomorrow. There are so many Latinos that there is no room for the NA's going to central american missions to come right now so they all get to stay in the Provo MTC instead. And we will be a vast minority. It will be so awesome.

Okay, just enough time for an abreviated experience Hna. Fuka and I had teaching at CRE this week. We went to teach the Plan of Salvation (lesson 2) to one of our "investigators", Hna. Vasquez. As we started into the lesson we asked her some good questions about her reading last time and how she was feeling about things. She shared some of the scriptures that she liked and we were able to add our testimonies of the Savior. Then we started teaching about the pre-mortal life and had her read another scripture. After some more questions, she told us that her
grandma had died a few years ago and she still didn't know where her spirit was. Well we skipped over most of our lesson and tried to teach to her needs and as we spoke in our broken Spanish, real tears came to her eyes and she cried as we taught her for the next 15 minutes. After the closing prayer she cried for a probably 30 seconds without saying anything and then told us how important it is to ask those good questions and to teach with that kind of love for our investigators. She bore her testimony of the Plan of Salvation. The spirit was so strong, and it hit me that even though we are practicing here we are still teaching REAL people and we are teaching TRUE principles that touch our hearts and change our lives constantly. There is so much power in the message of the gospel, in the fact that our Loving Father has a plan for our lives and the lives of our family members, in fact the whole human family. It's amazing to me how perfect the gospel is and the incredible power it has to transform. And the biggest transformation is in myself.

Side note to anyone thinking about serving a mission: PLEASE DO IT! It will be the best thing you ever do.

I love being a missionary, it's the best thing in the wold - I'm learning to be a disciple of Christ.

Well, I love you and miss you all. Thank you so much for your emails and letters. It makes such a difference. Hey, I'm curious to know which is faster, regular mail or pouch. So maybe you could conduct an experiment... :) Take care, thank you for everything. The gospel is true. Set some goals and look at them everyday. Much love.

Con amor,
Hna. Crosland

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Letter #5 - October 20, 2009

Hello everyone!

Thanks for the letters and emails! I liked the all in one email, but since we don't have a printer here, I have to read it during my alotted 45 min. I don't know the best way for you to communicate with me. I love getting dearelders and I got a bunch today (the ones from around Oct 10) so I think it takes about a week and a half for them to get here. But the emails are nice because they are so recent... so I don't know. Maybe keep doing both? I really love hearing about all you're doing and your funny stories (Mike had me laughing out loud and everyone was looking at me, and I just thought "haha, my family is funnier than yours...") Anyway, so seriously thank you for writing.

This week has been a lot of fun. I'm getting the hang of things a little more and we have had/watched some amazing devotionals that have really made me want to use every minute more effectively and focus on following the spirit. One of them was an MTC devotional by Elder Bednar about the Book of Mormon that he gave in May. It seems like we have been focusing a lot on the Book of Mormon lately and I love it. I have always had a testimony of the BoM I think, but I am seeing that book with new eyes and my testimony is growing so much. The BoM is such a priceless and precious gift that we have! I have been taking it for granted my whole life. My desire to study it as much as I can, to make connections and study themes and find ways to answer every question with the Book of Mormon has grown so much. What an amazing book. We had a few zone meetings where we took a step back and looked at an overview of the Book of Mormon. It really helped me put all the pieces together and see how everyone fits and the magnitude of all the work Mormon did. I wish I could share all the details.

Okay, so the most exciting right now is divisions tomorrow! We get paired up with a missionary in either the central or south guatamala missions and get to go out on splits for the whole day tomorrow (back here for dinner). I am so excited to actually get to see a little bit of Guatamala. So I will have to tell you how that goes next week.

It's been great to get to know the latino missionaries down here. The other night we had a little "fiesta" that turned into more of a testimony meeting with all the hermanas. Some of the latina hermanas have been having a bit of a hard time so we all got together (12 of us) in our room and had popcorn and each took turns sharing things we were grateful for (in Spanish of course) and it was awesome to listen and get to know some of these sweet sisters better. It felt like we were so unified and we have such a love for each other. We also had a big activitiy where we were divided up into tables of four (mixed elders and sisters) and we were supposed to find out the "stories behind the faces." It was amazing to me, first of all that we could communicate to each other, but mostly to hear some of the challenges and trials that these missionaries had to overcome to get here and how much their missions mean to them. Wow, it was inspiring. It is good to learn how to ask the right questions to get to know people's hearts and to listen and care for them.

Two more quick experiences and then I'll have to go. One of the funnest things is going to the Casa de Cre to practice teaching our teachers and on the way back a few days ago, Hna. Fuka and I saw this darling little family coming across the street from the temple towards us. This cute boy of about 12 with combed hair and a little suit came right over and hugged and kissed Hna. Fuka and I on our cheeks! I was a little surprized by it and started laughing. My first kiss in while, haha. We talked to his mom and little sister for a few minutes and she told us that she had been a member for 26 years now. She told us the names of the missionaries who found and taught her and called them her angels. She had such a love for the church and for missionaries. I love when I can understand people in Spanish!

Next experience.
One of our teachers (Hno. Cuque) took us out to the canchas (where we have gym) one night during class and just gave us 20 minutes to speak with and listen to the Lord. We spread out and I sat on the concrete in the middle of the basketball court and just looked up at the stars for a minute, breathing in the thick moist air and listening to all the sounds of the city around me. I started thinking about all the people I am going to have the chance to meet and teach in the next 17 months. I asked the Lord to let me feel the weight of the importance of what I am doing here, and pretty quickly the tears started to flow. It is completely overwhelming to think about the reality of a mission and what I have been called to do. Overwhelming in a good way! I can't take it all in, but when I get little glimpses like that, my heart is so full of gratitude I think it might burst.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - the gospel changes lives forever.

Sorry I couldn't respond more individually to you. I'll try to write a few letters this week. I love you all so much.

Oh, Dad. Hna. Fuka is from Tonga, she is going to the Honduras, Tegucigalpa mission and I still feel short. :)

Con amor,

Hna. Crosland

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Letter #4 - October 13th, 2009

Dear family,

You are all in big trouble... I know I told you not to email me, but it takes letters about two weeks to get here and I didn´t have a single email to read!  Boo.  So, I´m revoking the email rule... please email me as much as you can because it will be the best way to communicate here.

Entonces, Guatamala is a lovely place!  At least what I´ve seen of it, which isn´t much.  We drove from the airport to the CCM in the dark and there is only a gas station between the CCM and the temple so this has been our little world for the last week.  But, it´s humid and there are pretty green plants and flowers around and it hasn´t been really that hot.  Also, it rains everyday... and rains is definitely an understatement.

But I need to back up and tell you about the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport experience.  After I got off the phone with Mom, I started writing my testimony in Spanish in the Libro de Mormon I brought with me to give away (I did the same in English but didn´t get the chance to give it away).  When I was done, I walked to our gate to find the rest of the missionaries and I saw Hna. Kochevar, one of the sisters going to Honduras who knows a bit more Spanish than most of us, talking to a man in Spanish.  I joined her and we had a great conversation with this man, Adolfo who is a doctor in Guatamala.  He said he was Christian and I think he had a daughter doing missionary work as well.  We told him that we were missionaries and he was helping us with our Spanish.  We stated talking more about missions and I pulled out my Libro de Mormon and asked him if he would like to have it.  He looked touched and had me write, in addition to my testimony which was already there, the date and the place that I gave it to him.  We also gave him  a restoration pamphlet before we had to board the plane.  It felt amazing to actually communicate in Spanish and to give away a Libro de Mormon! Unfortunately, I was in the back of the plane with no one sitting on my row so I didn´t have anyone to talk to from Dallas to Guatamala, but I used the time to get some much needed sleep.

El CCM here is small but nice.  It´s in an L shape and half of it is for the missionaries and the other half is for memebers to stay in when they come to the temple.  The church has also bought quite a few houses around in the area for memebers to stay in.  The food is really good. Usually it´s black beans and scrambled eggs for breakfast with this yummy cream of wheat stuff.  It´s a lot more runny than the cream of wheat mom makes, but it is delicious.  The lunch and dinner menus are really similiar.  We have had a lot of rice, different kinds of meat, veggies, salad, fruit, and soup.  We actually had hot dogs last night with sourkraut, onions, tomatos, and guacomole.  Yum.

The schedule here a a lot looser than the schedule in Provo.  Maybe it´s because there are not as many of us so eating doesn´t take as long but it seems we always have extra time after meals, and the routine is pretty much the same every day.  Personal study from 6:15 - 7:15,
breakfast at 8:00, class starts at 9:00, lunch at 12:15 and then a huge block of time from 1:00 to 3:50 for anything- companion study, language study, teaching practice at casa de CRE, preparing to teach... and then gym from 3:50 to 4:50, dinner at 5:30 and then class at 6:15 until planning starts at 9:00.  It´s been a lot harder for me here to figure out how to use my time most effectively.  Especially because if Hna. Fuka and I try to study in our classroom during study time from 1-4, we can never get anything done because the Elders are always in there talking or goofying around.  It´s frustrating.  But I´m learning to really plan every minute so that we really use our time.

I miss a lot of things about the Provo MTC.  I just started to feel like I had things figured out there when I was sent here, but I´m sure I´ll get into a good groove down here soon.  There are a few things that I really love here that we don´t get in Provo.  Mainly, all the Latinos!  We have two latina roomates and about half of the missionaries here are latino.  It is so fun to get to know them and talk with them and practice a lot of spanish.  Also our teachers are all from Guatamala and they teach totally in Spanish.  Sometimes things go really slow because we want everyone in the class to understand and we´re all at different levels but my ability to understand has improved SO much in just a week.

Our two cute roommates are called Hna. Flores and Hna. España.  They are so funny, especially Hna. Flores and we do our best to communicate and get to know each other.  Hna. Flores is about 4 ft 6 and a little bit rotund and she is the brightest, most animated little lady!  She said she would teach us to dance later today if we have time.  Haha. I can´t wait.

Last night we a fireside and Elder Farrabela (he prayed at conference) and his wife came to speak.  It was funny to be in the group that needed headphones for translation, although I didn´t use any last night.  We had a limited number and not all the North Americans could have them so I opted to give it a go en Epañol.  I actually understood probaby 70% of what was said and it was awesome.  It helped that he was talking about the gospel though.  :)  We got to go walk around the temple and do contacts with memebers who were there a few days ago.  It was fun to talk to real people and try to figure out what they were saying.  Haha. We talked to this one old man who just went on and on and I only picked up a few words here and there of what he was saying.  So crazy.  But, I have now taught the first lesson all in Spanish twice!  I really know more than I think I do and although I´m sure I make tons of mistakes, I really felt the spirit while teaching.  It was awesome.

Really quick, because my time is up... Again, I´ve been called as the music coordinator. Can´t anyone else to this job?  I taught a music conducting class (in English) yesterday and I got a quartet together to sing that version of Lord I would follow thee that I brought at the devotional. It sounded really good.  Well I love you all and there is a ton more I wanted to say but that will have to wait for next week... boo.  Also, I wanted mom to forward this to some friends in the Provo MTC but I forgot to grab their email addresses and not there is no time. Sad story.  Oh well.  Mucho, mucho amor.

Hna. Crosland

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A small update on the Hermana

Dear Parents and Loved Ones:

Your missionary arrived "safe and sound" last night (Tuesday) ---and was involved all morning today at the MTC here in Guatemala --- in orientation for their next phase of training. They finally got into the classroom in the afternoon and have started learning more Spanish & teachings from Preach My Gospel. I've attached a photo of them out in front of the flags in the entry of the MTC here in Guatemala.

You are no doubt very proud of your missionary. You should be! This is a very good group of 20 new missionaries who join another extraordinary group of 22 North Americans who are in their final three weeks PLUS 42 missionaries from Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, Chile, Panama, and other Latin American countries who will be here at the MTC for the next three weeks .

Your missionary has Preparation Day on Tuesdays and will be writing to you then. I know that your support through letters and emails bless your 'missionary' a lot --- and will be greatly appreciated. In addition to email, you may choose to send letters as well through the pouch according to the instructions received in the call packet of your missionary.

Pouch Address:

Guatemala MTC
P.O. Box 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150

For the next several weeks you can ALSO send letters, packages, or other mail to your missionary at the following address:

---Name of your Missionary---
Centro de Capacitation Misional
Boulevard Vista Hermosa 23-71, Zona 15
Vista Hermosa 1 C.P. 01015
Guatemala Ciudad, Guatemala C.A.

I recommend that you write your missionary at this address for only a short time---and not send anything to the above address after November 7th. Anything you send after that date should be addressed to his/her mission address. Otherwise, there can be significant delay in them getting their mail because of the time it takes to forward the or have the missions drop by at their convenience and pick up and distribute mail to missionaries all over the mission. You can use regular US International Mail Service or Federal Express.

I also invite you to go to our personal website at:


When you get to the site, click on "Guatemala MTC." You can then browse around or take a tour of the MTC. Within a few weeks you may find your missionary in one or more of the pictures. ENJOY!!!

Thanks again for your missionary!!! We come to love these missionaries a great deal and appreciate you lending them to the Lord for this season of their lives.

President David A. Christensen

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Letter #3 - October 2, 2009

Editors note: On Wednesday, Sept. 30, Michelle was informed that she will be transfered to the Guatamala MTC on Tuesday, Oct. 6th. She was told that she could make a 5 minute phone call home to let her family know. It was great to hear her voice :)

Hola hermosa familia!
I've been in a bit of a daze since the news that I'm leaving so soon! I agree with Dad when he wrote me that he wasn't sure he was quite ready for me to be sent out of the country already. It feels like I just barely got here and I'm just getting cozied in. I'll be leaving some incredible friends that I just met although it feels like we've known each other forever. I'll miss the goofy elders in my zone although, I'm sure I'll have new goofy elders to make me feel right at home. All of the sudden I'm having "lasts": my last P-day in Provo, my last gym time, my last temple trip, my last time singing in choir, my last devotional. I wasn't ready for "lasts" yet. But I am excited for a whole lot of new "firsts."

I went to the temple this morning. It was wonderful and I tried to soak in every second. I was disappointed it wasn't Grandpa's film but it was still amazing to be in the House of the Lord. In the celestial room I poured my heart out to my Heavenly Father for the gift to be a missionary. It's the most frequent and powerful feeling I have, this overwhelming gratitude to be a missionary. I can't describe it and I'm not sure that anyone who hasn't been a full time missionary could fully understand. After the session, we went down to the cafeteria for "celestial breakfast" with the rest of our zone, but then instead of heading back to the MTC for personal time, Hna. Johnson and I decided to do initiatories. It was wonderful. The first time I've done them since I did my own. I just love hearing those beautiful blessings. I really needed that added comfort and strength before embarking on my latest big adventure this coming week.

I had an interview with Bro. Robinson again last Sunday, and again he spoke right to my heart and helped me see beyond my own weaknesses. He asked me as soon as we sat down, "do you know what some your strengths are? You have some very unique strengths." He proceeded to tell me about a few things he's noticed about me and my desire and ability to uplift others. He told me to "go with my strengths" and to stop spending so much time focusing on all of the areas where I feel like I'm weak. That way, he said, you can do the most good with what you've been given. That was exactly what I needed to hear because it's so easy to focus on all the things you need to work on and then feel overwhelmed and incapacitated by the mountains of things you want to do. But it really helped me focus this week and to relax and do those things that I'm good at and that come naturally to me.

I've been working on having more faith this week and I've recognized how much my faith has grown in such a short time. When I first got here, there were so many things that seemed so scary to do, things that were out of my comfort zone. But as I've put faith in the Lord and jumped into doing those scary things, they have become fun things! The ordinary things I do on a daily basis were the things that scared me the first few days and now I have a whole bunch of new things that scare me so my faith just grows and grows as I exercise it and trust in the Lord, that I really can do all that I'm asked to do. It's such a blessing. Our teaching went really well this week and I know it was just a fake investigator but I'm learning to really focus my study and teach with the spirit, backed up by true doctrine. Now, if I can just learn the words in Spanish... :)

One of the things I am really looking forward to and also one of those scary, faith growing things is the fact that next week everything will be in Spanish. Wow. I don't feel like I know enough but I know that the Lord will help me and that my language abilities will grow so much faster being immersed in the language so soon, so I am really grateful and excited. My the time Christmas rolls around, I'll dazzle you all with my Spanish! You won't even recognize me on the phone. It was fun to talk to Mom and Ali for a second this week. I'm glad neither of you started to cry. That would have been hard. I can always count on Mom to be an emotional rock ;) and to get straight to business... Just kidding mom, I love you so much and it was perfect to talk to you.

Aunt Barbara: Thanks so much for writing. It was great to hear from you. I never found out if Sister Dittmore was related to Boyd Dittmore... Way to go on your cardio rehab. :)

Also I saw Ashley Christianson, Sister Hunsaker, Sister Baum, and Sister Criddle at the temple this morning. And Brother and Sister Hardy from our old ward even though I didn't say hi... but that was fun.

I love you all so much. I'll try to get my new MTC address to you as soon as possible. For now email or keep using dearelder. BYE!

Con mucho amor,
Hna. Crosland