Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Letter #54 - September 27, 2010

Hey everybody,

Thanks for all the messages this week. It was fun to hear from the Crosland Clan. Sounds like you are all doing awesome, except for Amie's mouth contraption (ouch!). Mom, thanks for sending the music. I haven't had a chance to look through it yet, but I'm sure it will be awesome.

The rain is still going strong. It rains every day but it actually hasn't been super strong. There were some hurricane warnings but mostly for the Atlantic coast. And there has been a little bit of flooding in various parts of the country but nothing here.

I'm also feeling back to normal. After the fever went away, a nasty rash, that turned my skin red and spotty and made me so itchy I wanted to die and crawl right out of my skin, plagued me for a few days and made it extremely hard to concentrate on anything, but now I'm feeling good.

So changes are this Wednesday. I'm thinking Hna. Tunche will go and I will stay. But we'll find out tomorrow night what is to become of us. We went shoe shopping this morning and finally found some in Payless (where else?) which is actually like the posh shoe store out here. I also bought two pairs of no show socks and some shoe polish. So a huge thanks to grandma and grandpa from both Hna. Tunche and I. We are looking stylish and feeling snazzy in our new shoes.

This weekend we had the baptism of Ivania. She is the niece of one of the ward members and is 8 months pregnant. She is living with Hna. Montano and has been to church a few times, but we had never been to teach her until this week. She is super sweet and humble and accepted the lessons and the challenges to keep the commandments and we were able to baptize her this weekend. What I have learned about having baptisms is this: they are simply gifts from the Lord. We can do all we can and work our guts out and some times it just seems like no one is willing to change, and then all of the sudden, the Lord puts someone in your path who is prepared, who is humble, who wants to make changes in their life, and you are just lucky enough to be there to teach them.

I feel like I almost have nothing to do with finding these people. We are out in the streets trying to find people all day and to help the people we have to progress, but really all we can do is be as obedient as we can and work as hard and as smart as we can and then the Lord does the rest. He takes our effort, and although it usually didn't get us anywhere, he does the rest and gives us someone to teach and baptize. This is truly the Lord's work. We play such a small and insignificant part, but we need this experience. I am so grateful for the people that the Lord has entrusted me with and for the tiny role I have been able to play in their lives, to help them learn eternal truths that can save their lives.

I hope everyone is excited for conference this weekend. I am WAY excited, even though I'll probably have to listen to all of conference in spanish, which just isn't the same. But that's okay. Okay, I love you all. Thanks again Grandma and Grandpa for the new shoes.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - receiving the blessings of the Lord.

Love, Hna. Crosland

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Letter #53 - September 20, 2010

Hello everybody,

The highlight of the week was definitely the baptism of Luis, Suyen, Carlos, and Kenneth on Saturday. Just in case I haven't mentioned, Carlos is Luis and Suyen's eight year old son, and Kenneth is the son of a member but he just turned nine at the beginning of September so we taught him the lessons and he was also baptized this Saturday.

It was great and we had the support of quite a few members. Then they were all confirmed in church yesterday and it was really special. The only thing that made the experience less than perfect is that I started feeling pretty sick during the baptism.

I guess I have to back up a little bit.

Last monday I finished up my week of the terrible cold, but the very day that I started feeling better, Hna. Tunche got sick with a bad fever, body aches, and diarrhea. Well, Saturday she started feeling better and Saturday night, all of the sudden, I started feeling hot and shakey and since then I have felt pretty bad. Today the fever is less but I feel really dizzy and weak. So basically as a companionship we have more than two weeks of being sick and who knows how long it's going to hold on, whatever I have now. Hna. Medina has been so sweet. She is totally our mom here. She told me not to tell you that I've been sick, but I just had to. When you don't feel good, you just want your mom. And if she can't be there, at least she can know how you feel. So mama, don't worry. I'm going to feel better soon.

I miss you a lot right now. Like Daddy said, the trials are to polish us and knock off the rough edges. Well I've still got a lot of rough edges and the Lord is trying to polish me.

This week we also had a really great conference with Elder Don. R Clark of the Seventy. It was wonderful and very inspiring. I felt humbled and inspired to do better and I wrote down a lot of good points on how to improve. I know that the Lord loves us and is mindful of us. He wants us to succeed and He gives us many opportunities to do so. Let's make the most of everyday and give our best. And even on the hard days when our best effort doesn't amount to much, the Lord accepts it and makes up the difference.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - shall we not go on in so great a cause?

Love, Hna. Crosland

P.S. I will try to find some time to look for a new pair of shoes. It probably wont be until next monday because today I just need to rest. But tell Grandma and Grandpa thank you and that I love them a lot.


HAPPY ONE YEAR TO THE HERMANA! A member made her a cake to celebrate.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Letter #52 - September 13, 2010

Dear fam and friends,

This weeks email is going to be short and sweet. I don't have a ton of time today. But I did have some really wonderful experiences this week that I wanted to share, and some frustrating ones that make the sweet ones all the better.

On Saturday we weren't having any luck with finding the people we had planned to teach. But finally we a lady named Flor let us come in and start teaching her. We are teaching her son Kevin and we had taught her as well one time before but this time, Kevin wasn't home and it gave us the chance to answer some of her questions. She started asking about the Book of Mormon. Basically it turned out to be a really frustrating lesson in which she was totally closed to accepting anything we said and just threw one objection after another at us. I felt like we actually did a really good job of answering her questions and objections and showing her how Heavenly Father's plan all works together so perfectly. I even felt the spirit testify through me as I bore my testimony of a Loving Father in Heaven and the book that he prepared for us in these last days to clear up all the confusion that exists in religion. But she was super closed to taking anything into her heart and at the end wouldn't even accept the invitation to read part of the Book of Mormon to find out for herself what it contained and if it was true. That always hurts a little bit. Not because we were rejected, but because she will never know what kind of happiness and truth she could have had. I love the Book of Mormon with all my heart.

Now, contrast that experience with yesterdays testimony meeting where Bernarda, our recient convert of about a month ago, got up and bore a sweet and simple testimony that she is so grateful to have discovered the true church, and that through the reading the Book of Mormon, she knows that the church is true. Wow. That was probably one of the sweetest moments I have had. It is so hard to get people to read the Book of Mormon out here, members AND investigators. And hearing her testify of the Book of Mormon from the pulpit yesterday about made my heart burst. She has gone through a ton of trials since she got baptized, but she has been faithfully reading the book of Mormon and it has made all the difference.

The other sweet experience was with Luis and Suyen. They didn't get baptized this saturday because Suyen still had a lot of doubts and is worried about her family totally rejecting her if she gets baptized because they are super catholic. But we trudged through a hurricane to get to their house last night and it was well worth the bath. When we got there, dripping wet even though we had a huge umbrella, Suyen said she had some news for us. She said that they wouldn't be coming to church anymore and that they were going to stop receiving the lessons... my heart skipped an entire beat and a half. But then a sly smile creeped across her face. Just kidding, she said, we're going to be baptized on Saturday the 18th, for sure. Wow! I wanted to jump up and shout and dance, but I settled for giving her a big hug. This family is really special. I feel like if they were the only ones that I got to teach and baptize in my whole mission it would be worth it.

Well time is up, but I just have to say that being a missionary is the best thing in the world - the bitter makes the sweetness that much sweeter.


Hna. Crosland

Monday, September 6, 2010

Letter #51 - September 6, 2010

Well hi everybody,

How are ya'll? It sounds like it was an exciting a spiritual week. Congrats to Will on his patriarchal blessing. That will be such a guide for you in your life if you read it often and work to fulfill the requirements for each blessing promised. And three cheers for Ali, all the way up there at BYU-I! I'm so happy and excited for you, and I can't believe that by the time I see you again, you'll be a seasoned veteran at the whole college thing. Wow, time is flying. Thanks for the uplifting emails mom and dad.
I love reading them. They are a great source of strength to me each week, a recharge of energy.

I have had one of the nastiest colds of my life for the last four days and it is still going strong. But I have been amazed at all I can do, even while feeling very sick, with the Lord's help, and it hasn't slowed down the work. I hope that it doesn't hold on much longer though. I don't think my nose will make it. We had stake conference this weekend and it was very nice. It almost felt like the church at home. We had 7 investigators there, including Luis and Suyen, Erika, and Oscar. I don't know if I have
told you about Erika. She is the wife of a less-active member and she has a baptismal date for this saturday along with Luis and Suyen. As of now, I think they are on track. We watched the Joseph Smith movie with L and S yesterday at the stake presidents house and it was really awesome. Oscar is a 20 year old kid that we are teaching who always has a new rumor about the church for us to clear up. He's progressing and I think in a few weeks he will get baptized as well. Mijaly and Yolanda have been really hard to find still. But we made an appointment with them for tonight and we'll see how it goes. I hope we can rescue them. It will break my heart to lose them.

Hna. Tunche and I will be companions at least until Sept. 29. We work pretty well together, despite our differences. Actually it's our different strengths that really make up for what the other lacks. Almost daily I am grateful for something she did that I didn't think to do that turned out to make a big difference. But I should be better at telling her that. The changes actually come out to be nearly exact for my 18 months because of the three week extension, March 17. And I think I'll be able to choose if I want to come home then or at the next change which would be at the end of April. But I have been thinking that I want to jump right into the spring term of school so I'm thinking march.

It seems this week that I have been thinking about a lot of things. For one reason or another, I've been really contemplative. Before my mission I used to think that it wouldn't matter to me if I got rejected every day and hardly anyone would listen to us. I was so sure that just "being a missionary and preaching the gospel" could be enough and that if I had any success in terms of baptisms, it would be icing on the cake. But that was before I started to love the people here and desire their salvation. Having "success" to be able to report numbers still doesn't matter to me, but knowing that the gospel can truly save someoe and to have them not be able to open their eyes and see it really hurts. It's not a hurting for myself, I ache for them. I want so badly to help but so many don't let us. But we have to push forward and do the best that we can. Baptism the the key.

I was also reading a talk that Paige gave in church some months ago and sent me this morning. She spoke about love. And I started really contemplating the subject. It seems on my mission that I've discovered just what an amature I am at love. I used to think that I had it all down, that I was so capable of loving everyone. How naive I was. To my surprise and discontent, Christ-like love has been something I've struggled with here. That purest of all love should be the true motive of all we do. But how many times have I looked for and found other motives to keep me going, worldly motives, shallow motives. Why am I so easily annoyed and discouraged? Is the charity in my heart truly so thin and unsubstantial?

I think that we can study the pinciples of the gospel and tributes of Christ all our lives, and we should, but we really don't learn them with our hearts until we are put to the test. All my life I have studied the gospel and I have a lot of knowledge about it. I have read about thousands of examples of love and charity. And now I am here with the opportunity to put that knowledge into action, to somehow get it from my head to my heart and I feel like I fail 9 times out of 10. We don't learn until we are tested. It's easy to love your best friend and serve her. It's easy to love your family especially when you are very far away from them. But loving complete strangers, and people you haven't even met yet, enough to sacrifice so much, to go out and work when you are sick and tired and have nothing left to give, except the shred of charity you pull up from deep within your heart, that is something of a challenge.

I hope I am learning to love, despite my failures. And perhaps it is through my failures that progress is being made. No, not through failing, through the courage to pick myself up and keep trying. Let us cultivate charity and not be discouraged when our capacity to love is tested and we don't quite measure up yet. We are little children and cannot bear all things now, but must grow in grace and truth... and I would add charity.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - try, try again.

I love you all with all my heart.

Love, Hna. Crosland

Letter #50 - August 30, 2010

Hey you guys,

Sorry you missed the email last week. I don't know what happened. I actually did send it, so it must have just gotten lost in cyber-space. So, we have a little problem in our one-room house called low water pressure. Here's a fluid dynamics problem for you. When you have one water source that is being directed to varias locations and someone is washing while another person is trying to take a shower, what happens? Basically, the water dribbles out of the shower head and sticks to the wall most mornings.

So trying to get yourself wet is kind of interesting. It's like this, I stretch up my arm and place my palm against the wall where the stream of water is coming down, more or less making a bridge so that the water is directed down my arm and onto my shoulder and from there to the rest of my body. This is method number one. When we have a bit more pressure, there is the good old make-a-cup-out-of-your-hands method and then splash it on your body (think ELF in the shower). But my favorite is when we've got a good sprinkle going and I get all lathered up and then all of the sudden, not a single drop is coming out. Luckily it usually comes on again in a few minutes, but the moments spent standing in the shower wondering what I'm going to do if it doesn't come back on are entertaining.

Well, the best news this week is that Shilo got baptized! Mijaly and Yoli still aren't ready and I'm actually pretty worried that Mijaly is loosing interest. He hasn't let us teach him all week. But things are going really well with Suyen and Luis. Tonight we are going to teach them about Family Night at the bishop's house. The activity we had for the baptisms this week went pretty well. It was all centered around the vision of Lehi and the tree of life. We watched a little video to get started and then everyone followed the iron rod (a rope covered in tin foil) around the church, facing various temptations including a discoteca and a room filled with candy. Finally, everyone ended up in the room with the baptismal font where a lovely christmas tree represented the tree of life. Haha. It was pretty funny. Then we had the baptisms. I attached some pictures of the activity and Shilo.

Preparing for the activity

The rope covered in tinfoil--I mean the iron rod . . .


Getting baptized is super fly


Today we splurged and bought betty crocker cookie mixes at the grocery store (la colonia). It was like heaven eating cookie dough, and all the latinos just stared and looked at us like we were crazy. "You are going to get so sick from eating that" they said. But I assured them that I have been eating cookie dough since I was born and that nothing would happen. Hna. Campos wanted the cookies to be done faster so she turned the heat up as high as it would go, but luckily, elder iverson saw her do it and quickly turned it back down. It made me laugh. Cookies are just not a latin american thing. But they turned out good. We also watched The Mountain of the Lord on the big screen in the church. It was awesome. I think I've seen it once before, but it really hit me how much the saints sacrificed to build the Salt Lake Temple. It also made me miss the temple a lot. We also watched part of a church video but in Portuguese and I was stoked when I realized that I could understand almost everything. Portuguese is so cool. I want to learn it when I get home.

Daddy, I'm glad you are happy with your eye surgery still and that everything went well. And I love hearing about your ward and what you are doing with them and how the family is participating. It sounds like your day of rest yesterday was a little like one of mine... not at all restful. But when we are in the service of the Lord, He promises us a rest that will be eternal.

I love you all dearly.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - and it never ends, keep working hard to spread the joy.

Love, Hna. Crosland

P.S. I can't wait to meet my new niece in a few months. I hope everyone is taking good care of Paige and Mikey. And good luck to Ali-bug with starting school up at BYU-I. I know you'll be great Ali, you're starting an amazing new chapter of your life so live it up to the fullest! And Will, just know I love you and I'm always thinking about you.