Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Letter #14 - December 29, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
letter #13 - December 21, 2009
First things first: how to call me on Christmas! 9:00am will be fine,
or 10:00am here. I'll just be doing my morning studying. The sad thing
is that I only have 40 minutes. I thought it would be an hour at least
but President Fraatz told us yesterday that we only have 40 minutes. So
we'll have to talk fast! I have the number of the lady who cooks for us
so you'll just have to call me. I'm pretty sure that first you dial
00505 and then her number which is 86029182. I'll have her phone
Christmas morning. I'm not sure if a test call is allowed but if you
are worried maybe you could do a test call. We are at her house from
about 12:30-1:15pm and 5:15-6:00pm. I think it should work Christmas
morning though. So, I'm very excited to hear all your voices. You have
to forgive me for being lame... I didn't send anything home for you for
Christmas. Well, except that one letter but that really doesn't have
anything to do with Christmas. I've just been so preoccupied with
getting my feet under me that it didn't even occure to me until this
week and I haven't really had time to think much about it. I'll try to
send something soon though.
This week we had a Christmas Activity for all the missionaries. It was
really fun. We had a devotional from President Fraatz that was really
good. Actually he kind of cracked down on us, but it was motivating.
He's really strict but it helps us to be obedient and focused. He spoke
for a few minutes in English to the North Americans. He told us that he
really felt like we needed to step up our effort. Most of us have been
blessed to be born in the church, we know how the organization works,
what it's like to grow up in a family of committed members. Many of us
have pioneer heritage, ancestors who literally gave everything for the
church and the gospel. And how sad would it be for us to come out here
and not give our all, to not feel those feelings that our
great-grandparents felt for the gospel because of the sacrifices they
made. It gave more meaning to the compass around my neck. My pioneer heritage means a lot to me. It made me wonder, am I really sacrificing my all? Do I have the same feelings that they did, is my testimony as strong, and am I willing to give like they did? It made me want to work harder, to give more when I feel like I have nothing left. To really put my best effort forward and learn to sacrifice. Like Jenny Thornton said, in reality we give so little and the Lord blesses us with so much. Well, I want to give a little more.
After the devotional we were divided up into about ten teams and played
some games, mostly involving water balloons. There was also a
watermelon eating contest and a huge blow-up slip and slide. It was
pretty fun. And of course we broke piñatas. This time we had sticks
I've been thinking a lot this week on how to help the members and
recent converts in our little branch catch the vision of this gospel and
realize the importance of the basics such as coming to church, paying
tithing, keeping the word of wisdom, keeping the sabath day holy,
reading the scriptures everyday, family prayer. I feel like I've taken
these things for granted my whole life. What a difference they make! I
want to start teaching the members more about temples. I've been
surprised to find out how many recent converts really don't even know
what a temple is. It's so critical how we follow up with our recent
converts. In our little branch in Nagarote, we don't have ward members
to rely on to teach the recent converts what they need to know to really
get started in the church. Retaining those we baptize is a huge part of
the work and helping them really start to understand the gospel is a
huge job. But it's an amazing work to be a part of.
Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - we are literally
Christ's representatives on the earth.
I am so grateful to be preaching the gospel of JESUS CHRIST especially
at this time of the year.
I can't wait to talk to you lovely family.
Love, Hna. Crosland
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Letter #12 - December 15, 2009
Sorry to be so tardy. We had a Zone activity yesterday and by the time we made it back to Nagarote, we couldn't find any open computers at the two internet cafes here before P-day was officially over and we had our night appointments. But we got permission to write today, hooray!
Thanks for all the shout-outs from the fam. It was fun to hear from everyone. I still haven't gotten your packages, but we are only able to get them when we have Multi-zone conferences or exchanges I guess. Luckily we have a big Christmas party for half the mission, about 100 missionaries on Thursday (the other half on Wednesday) and if the packages have come, I'll be able to get them then. If they haven't gotten here, changes are on the 30th of December. Also, I sent a letter home about two weeks ago. Has it arrived yet? And I don't know when you will have a chance to send another package, but maybe you can just start a list of things that I'd like: the conference Ensign from Oct in English and Spanish if you can find it, Oreos, and my flute... I should have just packed it when I had it at the MTC in Provo but I was worried about the weight. Hopefully we'll get this mail thing figured out.
So, to answer your questions: First of all, sorry I didn't answer all of your questions last week Mom. Yes, I can print stuff off here, so you can send more via email. I loved the words of wisdom from the Thorntons. I copied them into my journal because they really spoke to me. The gospel really is amazing at filling our holes. Let's see, things have been better with Hna. Bustillos. We are both learning how to work with each other despite the communication gap. And I am learning to just go along with things even when I don't know why we are doing what we're doing exactly and when I feel like there is a better way to do things. I am definitely learning a lot about patience and humility. But this week felt a lot better than last week. I have moments when I feel things are really starting to click. I feel like I'm starting to settle into the groove. I'm not exactly sure what made me sick. I think it was the drinks from the hermana who feeds us lunch and dinner. We asked her if she was using purified water to make the juice she gave us and found out she wasn't. But we told her it was a mission rule for us to only drink purified water so now I think she is doing something to purify it before making it into nice drinks. We eat lunch and dinner with Hna. Johanna everyday. Mostly it's gallo pinto and this cheese (I don't know how to spell it). Sometimes there is vegetables and chicken and rice, sometimes soup with interesting things in it, sometimes fried tortillas with cheese or meat. We eat a variety of things. And for breakfast, the first two weeks we went to a little store half a block from our house and bought picos (triangle shaped bread with sugar folded up) and oatmeal and juice. But we went to a grocery type store and bought cornflakes and milk and pancake mix and eggs last week so we've been eating that for breakfast. We don't put much in the stinky fridge, just the milk and eggs and margarine. There are 16 sisters in the mission and four north Americans (including me) out of about 200 missionaries in the mission.
Okay, so Happy Birthday to ME this week. I got up and made grandma Helene style pancakes for the first time here which was lovely. We couldn't find syrup so we just ate them rolled up with sugar like when I was little. That brought back good memories and it was yummy. We had a piñata at our district meeting on my birthday which was fun. We just batted at it with our fists because we didn't have a bat. It was a pretty good day except for when we found one of our investigators sitting on the side of the road, pretty drunk. It took some work but we convinced him to let us walk him home, so arm in arm we strolled up the dirt road to his house. It was quite the walk and as we got closer and closer he kept holding back and making this nervous face because he didn't want his wife to see him. It was actually pretty funny, my birthday stroll with the borracho, or bolo as they are called here.
This Sunday I was asked to give a talk on tithing. We didn't have time to prepare on Saturday and we always get up at 5:00am on Sundays to be out the door by 6:00 to gather the youth to help us gather the rest of the members and the investigators for church. We make up the routes and hit the streets by 7:00trying to get people to church by 9:00. Well this Sunday I was up at 4:00am to prepare my talk. It went alright I think. Hna. B said I only made a couple of mistakes. Then we found out that one of the Sunday School teachers didn't come so I had to teach the recent convert/investigator class all by myself so that Hna. B could fill in for the teacher who didn't come. I was really nervous to get started but I pretended to be confident, put on a big smile, pulled out my laminated plan of salvation that I made in the Provo MTC and taught the class. It went better than I thought it would. I am learning to set my fears aside and trust that the Lord will help my in the areas that I lack, mainly Spanish.
This week I had a good experience teaching a couple in the ward who are being sealed in the temple today actually. Francisco and Mayra are a young couple (20 and 21 I think) who have a darling little boy. Francisco is the Elder's Quorum president and Mayra is the RS president. They are great, but Francisco struggles a bit with his faith and testimony when challenges come. They run a little venta, a store or more like a stand in the park where they sell candy and drinks and little toys and baked goods. Well we were all sitting on crates in the venta and Hna B. looked at me and said, teach about the atonement. So I asked Francisco who is Jesus Christ to you? The question kind of threw him off and he responded with a general answer, but I prodded and said, no to you personally. Mayra spoke up and bore her testimony of the Savior and she asked Hna. B who Jesus Christ was to her. After Hna. B testified of the Savior's role in her life, I pulled out my D&C and read section 50:40-45 (I know this is one of mom's favorites and it always reminds me of her and often makes me cry, this time was no different). I read it and got through it okay, but as I started to explain my relationship with my Savior through those verses, the tears couldn't be restrained. I also testified of the temple that they were about to have the opportunity to attend and tell them how much Heavenly Father wants to teach us and show us His plan for our lives, and how the temple is a place of revelation and learning. The spirit was so strong and I felt like I was really able to communicate the things I wanted to share, which was really gratifying. I love the temple so much and I miss being able to go whenever I want. I feel like we need to teach the members here more about the temple and stress it so much more. I think if they start to see the vision of what the temple really means and what it is and how important it is, it will help motivate them to be more faithful in paying their tithing, coming to church, living the word of wisdom and sharing the gospel. Then, when the members start to show the Lord their faithfulness in keeping the commandments, He will bless Nicaragua with a temple and more families here can be sealed for eternity. How amazing is that?
I read a talk by Pres. Uchtdorf from two conferences ago and there was a quote that stuck out to me. He said, "I am doing a great work and cannot come down." When I get discouraged or frustrated or when things of the world threaten to take my mind from the work, I remember that phrase: I am doing a great work and cannot come down.
Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - I am helping families to be together for eternity.
I love you all so much it hurts. Also, ALISON AND WILLIAM, get off facebook and write me an email. It won't take long. I'm forgetting who you are. :)
Love and kisses and sniffs in your ears.
Love, Hna. Crosland
Monday, December 7, 2009
Letter #11 - December 7, 2009
De la Rotonda Del Periodista
150 varas al sur
Ofiplaza Suite #725
So try that for packages and letters in the future I guess. I hope everything you sent gets here. If you used the mission home address in the call packet I'm sure it will.
Are you ready for this week’s bunch of questions? Well let’s start with your companion. What is she like? Well other than she likes to teach and find investigators. What kind of Branch are you in? Ward? How big is it? I’m still confused about how rotting food got in the fridge. Are you two new to the apartment and it was already in the fridge, or you just don’t fix food very often? Are you taking care of yourself?
Okay really fast, the fridge. We are in the same apartment that two other sisters were in just before us. They left all the food in the fridge and unplugged it for some reason before they left that morning for changes. So when we got there that night it already started to smell and a week later when we finally got to cleaning it, it was pretty much the worst thing ever. And now we have it plugged in but we don't use it at all. It still smells. But only when we open it, which is basically never.
Oh, the Branch. Yes, it is a branch and it struggles. The attendance is about 75 each week but there are about 400 members on record. There is no young mens or young womens president, but there are leaders of the primary. Hna B. and I teach the recent converts and investigator class each week and I think they have teachers of sunday school. The branch president has been the president for 8 years and he seems tired. There are only two endowed members in Nagarote - president of the branch and one other lady named yessenia. I wrote you a letter last week telling a lot more about Nagarote. I am pretty sure now that the coast I saw was the lake. You probably know where I am a lot better than I do. Um, there are no nice houses really. There are a few houses here that are painted nice and actually have tile floors and more than one room divided by actual walls, but only a few houses are like that. And Hna. B said that Nagarote is one of the nicest areas in all of Nicaragua. In most other places every house is made of rough cut boards, tin or zinc roofs and sheets of plastic. It's really overwhelming. Anyway, my time is gone. Love you all.
Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - even when you're in the hospital.
Love, Hna. Crosland
Monday, November 30, 2009
Letter #10 - November 30, 2009
Okay, what else. Dad, you wanted missionary work details. Well, we pretty much have appointments all day and we street contact along the way everywhere we go. Nobody is usually inside their houses because it's too hot, so there are tons of people sitting in plastic chairs on the side walks or walking around. Everyone is so nice here that we stop and talk with every family that we see and usually make an appointment with them to come to their house and share our message. Everyone is willing to talk with us and listen, so it's a little hard to know who is really interested. It's been a little frustrating to teach and then see that clearly they didn't really understand what we have, or why we're different, or how this message can change their lives. I was grateful for the bit Paige wrote me about the council in heaven and foreordination vs. predestination. I miss intellectual conversation for two reasons, 1) there are not many people here who think very deeply about gospel things 2) I can't converse very deeply in Spanish yet... But yeah, mostly we talk to a ton of people on the street everyday and teach about 10 lessons a day. Understanding people is getting easier but I am still frustrated a lot of the time because I don't know fully what is going on and I can't express all that I want to. Also, Hna. Bustillos has such a particular way she likes to teach each principle that it's kind of hard to learn her way to do it. Anyway, I'm learning a lot. Mostly, how to be patient and humble. In my district, I think there are only 4 of us, but in the Zone there are maybe 12. We are the only hermanas.
Okay, the apartment really isn't that bad. I was going through "nice things" withdrawls I think for a while. We have a tile floor (which is way better than dirt) and our shower is actually inside the house (which is way better than outside) and we have two fans and two beds and two desks. And the fridge doesn't smell so bad anymore... The bathroom is the only thing that is scary. The door frame is coming apart so you have to push it back in place to close the door.
feel okay. I take fast showers. Ah! I have to tell you stories.
The fridge, turns out, was chalk full of rotting food and GUSANOS (maggots). It's not like we couldn't locate the smell, we just didn't open it for a week. It was seriously the nastiest thing I have ever done to clean out that fridge. We put plastic bags on our hands and removed all the contents of the fridge, then we carried it to the bathroom and used bowls to throw water in it to try to flush out some of the maggots. I swear there were a million. And they are probably the nastiest of all of God's creations. They way their little white bodies ripple when they move... it makes my spine tingle just thinking about it. And the SMELL! I have never smelled anything like it before in my life. Needless to say, we had a big and disgusting job, but we did it. We still haven't put any food in it though. We were waiting for all the maggots to crawl out of their hidding places, but now I just don't think I can get over the mental block of how gross that fridge seems to me, even cleaned out.
Another good story: We have been teaching this cute little family, really poor, but so great and humble. After a lesson one night this week, little Kevin ran out after us on our way out and whispered something to me. I couldn't understand him, but soon found out he had asked for some money to buy food tomorrow. We aren't allowed to give any money to anyone, but it about broke my heart. So what did we teach the next day? The law of tithing! I kept thinking to myself, how can we ask these people to give money to the church when they don't have enough to eat. But then I remembered the blessing of tithing. When we pay a full tithing the Lord always provides for our needs. Well when we taught them about tithing, they accepted whole heartedly. Hna. B asked if 10% was a lot and they all said, No! Pequeño! Wow, the faith and humility of these people. Sure enough they brought their filled out tithing slip with their 10 cordobas to church yesterday.
I've started dreaming in Spanish. Last night I dreamed about teaching about obedience in Spanish using 1 Ne 3:7 and Heleman 10. Both great obedience scriptures. Haha. That's cool I guess. So it's Christmas time and there are some Christmas lights around and a few trees in some houses. But it's blazing hot and sunny and, oh! Mom, you should see the bouganvillia (sp?) here. It's beautiful and everywhere. The flowers and the trees are so pretty. And mostly it doesn't fell like Christmas at all, but when we sing Christmas hymns I always tear up because they make me think of singing with all of you at home. I've been a little teary this week. Things are so hard. I'm happy and ever grateful to be a missionary. But being in Nicaragua I feel homesick for the first time on my mission. I really miss the holidays with the family. I didn't find out that last thursday was thanksgiving until it was almost friday, and I was grateful because it made me feel weird to think of all of you together doing thanksgiving things. I miss that a lot. I feel very far from home and I can't talk to anyone here in English. It's very isolating at times. Sorry to be a downer for a second. I have had lots of good days. Anyway, I have to go.
Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - even with a fridge full of maggots.
I love you all SO much it brings tears to my eyes. Like mom said, I love you so much it hurts sometimes. But I'm so grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow and bring people to the knowledge of the gospel. How cool is that?
Love, Hna. Crosland
Monday, November 23, 2009
Letter #9 - November 23, 2009
Love , Hna Crosland
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Letter #8 - November 10, 2009
We are down to the last week here in the CCM and I couldn't be more excited to finally get to Nicaragua. It seems like I've already been on my mission forever, and yet I can't believe it's been nearly two months. Time flies. It makes me even more anxious to make the most of every minute. Thanks for the emails fam, and for the letter mom. Real mail is by far the coolest thing ever, but I love hearing from you all in any form.
Dad- way to be Santa. That is so funny.
Paige - please send pictures. I miss seeing your art. Thanks for telling me about crazy BYU... it makes me really glad I'm not in school right now! ;)
Mike - happy birthday, sorry it's late... I think you are wonderful.}
Will - Way to cry all through your first bandimony. That's awesome. Now practice your cello! :D
Ali - I still miss you and think about you the most. I hope that doesn't make anyone else feel bad... Way to be such a good girl. I wish I could be there watching you grow in the next year and a half because these are such changing years. You are amazing. Keep studying your scriptures and praying everyday and you will be a winner. One thing I keep wishing is that I had really memorized all my scripture mastery scrips... maybe I should tell that to Will. Don't waste your oppotunities. I love you.
Mom - I miss you a close second. Thanks for the lovely cyber-hug. Hna. Fuka gave me a hand massage today to keep her awake and I thought of you rubbing my fingers in church. Mmmm, I love you so much. Have so much fun in DC with Dad and tell Mike and Kimber and the kids hi.
Okay, so we had a pretty normal week this week except that it keeps raining which is weird for this time of year here. This morning we had Elder Costa of the presidency of the seventy here to speak to us. I got a double trio together and sang El Cristo Es! (This is the Christ) and it turned out really nice. I love listening to the devotionals in Spanish and being able to understand almost everything. It makes me feel so good. Tomorrow we have divisions again so I get to spend the day as a "real missionary" one more time before hitting the streets (dirt roads?) of Nicaragua. Then Thursday we have meetings with Pres. Christensen all day. Friday is our last day of classes. Saturday is info meetings and packing. Sunday is Sunday. And Monday we go to Las Colinas to play the day away again. This week is going to fly. Wow. I can't wait to get out of here. I have loved it but I want to get to work.
As far as a package goes, send it to the mission office I think. Don't send anything else here, because I won't be here by the time they come. Oh, I got the letter you sent on the 29 today mom. Along with the dear elders. I'm not sure of the day that they arrived at the CCM though because they keep everything and wait until P-day to give it to us. A bit different from the MTC in Provo, where the mail was delivered and we checked our boxes twice a day. I'll try to think of things that would be nice during the week. I'm pretty content though. Things are good.
On Sunday we heard from Elder/Pres.? Amado and he spoke just to our little group of North Americans so it was in English which was nice. He gave us a pattern for being good missionaries (good disciples, really) from the story of Nephi the prophet in Helaman 10. It's a short chapter but one I have come to love. I discovered it a few weeks ago and was really excited when he started talking about it. Nephi is left alone by all the people he is trying to teach and as he's walking home a bit dejected, the Lord speaks to him. I love the words of the Lord to Nephi and you can just feel how much the Lord trusts him. He knows that Nephi will do exactly what the Lord would have him do, so he gives Nephi immense power. Then the Lord commands him to go back and preach to the people again, and Nephi stops right where he is at and goes back. He obeys immediately. What a great example. I want to be the kind of missionary the Lord can trust like that. It seems easy to do if the Lord spoke right to you and asked you to do something. Who wouldn't do obey? The hard part is recognizing that the missionary handbook and the silly Guat CCM rules and little impressions are the same as the Lord speaking. I am recommited to being more obedient in every way I can be.
Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - I'm learning to recognize the Lord's voice.
I love you all so much and The next letter I write you will be from Nicaragua which is SO COOL! (P.S. we had a little culture night where our teachers who went to our different missions came in and told us about our missions and it was so cool. Also one of the teachers named Hna. Vasquez said she talked to Pres. Fraatz last week and told him about me. The first question he asked was "How's her Spanish" and I got a thumbs up from Hna. Vasquez.)
Love, Hna. Crosland
Friday, November 6, 2009
Week #7 - November 3, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Week #6 - October 27, 2009
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.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Letter #5 - October 20, 2009
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!
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. :)