Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Week 40 - August 13, 2012

Hi everyone!

Okay, I hit my 11 month mark last week. Is that crazy to anyone else besides me? This is all going really really fast. Although it's sort of a trick, because each day is kind of long, but the weeks go by really fast!

Anyway, we're doing fine here in Clarksville. We are still struggling a little bit, but that is just part of the routine I guess. The ups and downs, you know? As part of the "downs" phase, no one came to church yesterday, which is a major bummer. Two weeks in a row, too. And I'm not necessarily doing this work for people to look at me and be happy with me, but it's really cool when wards notice the work you are putting in. When no one comes to church, it doesn't look like you're doing your job very well. But we do the best we can, and God knows what we've been doing all week.

Guess who we saw yesterday?! Aida! Yesterday was the Spanish fireside, and she was there. The firesides are a super simple formula: one main speaker (approx 15 minutes) + testimonies of congregation (as long as that takes) = super awesome meeting. Well, yesterday, Aida got up and shared her testimony! And it was the coolest thing ever. She talked about how happy she is, and that she can't wait for her family to have the gospel one day (the ones still trapped in Cuba), and that though she doesn't know everything, she feels that this is all true and right. What more can you ask for? She's so cool, and it was so fun when I went up to talk to her and she got excited to see us. :)

We had interviews with President last week, and a super super good training from the Assistants. Interviews were kind of serious this time around. Apparently our zone has been struggling lately, and our district in particular. But, being the district leader, I have to try to keep things running smoothly. I just want people to go out and do work. I think that is the solution to lots of the issues. Go. Do. Be the missionary your mom wants you to be. Problem solved. But, that's not always the case. So we keep going, trying to help each other along the way. The zone leaders and having a "district leader council" on Wednesday to give us a little bit of training (long overdue. all of the district leaders in the zone are new this transfer). So that will be helpful. Also, on Thursday we are going to hear from another member of the Quorum of the Seventy. That's two in three weeks! Sister Woodbury told us that they just kind of tell them when they're coming to tour the mission. They tried to tell the one coming that we were going to hear from one this transfer already, but he still wants to come. So we get a double dose of General Authorities this transfer! The downside is that we aren't going to the temple this transfer because of all of the meetings. But I've got my fingers crossed for next transfer!

We're doing good. Pushing along as best we can! I'm glad to hear that everyone at home is doing well. I love getting everyone's emails, because it seems like we are all doing super super good right now. Yeah, crap happens. But nothing the gospel can't fix, right? :)

Have a good week everyone!


Week 39 - August 6, 2012

Hi family!

This week was a little slower than others. On Tuesday we helped Aida and her granddaughter/family pack up their U-haul. It was sad. And painful (physically). They lived on the third floor. hahaha. And once we made it to the bottom of the stairs, we couldn't maneuver the couches out of the doorway. It probably took 40 minutes just to get the couches taken care of. But that's probably way better than if they had been doing it by themselves. They were way heavy! Hahaha. So they're gone -- off to bigger and better things. But that's okay. We'll see each other at the firesides and things, probably.

We went from having tons of people at church two weeks in a row, to having no one at church... it was so weird not translating, not teaching Spanish Gospel Principles, etc. It was a nice rest, but not what you want, you know? But, the good news is that Rodrigo and Esbeyda and their super cool son, Juan, all went to the Spanish branch with the Bisoso family! So we technically had investigators at sacrament meeting, it just wasn't right here. And the Bisoso's said that they seemed to really really enjoy it and everything, so we are so excited for them. It's been a long time in the making, and sometimes I get so upset because I want things to move faster, but they are ready for this. They might not quite see that, but they keep having us back, so there is something inside that is telling them to keep going.

The man that came with us to visit Digna (the Puerto Rican convert on hospice) for the first time, Brother Snow, had us and Digna over for dinner this week. They have a fun house that is like, 70 years old. Super super charming. All of the charm that I liked they seemed to dislike -- like unlevel floors and shifting walls. Hahaha. But it's a super neat place. Anyway, they had us and Digna over for a tasty meal. It was kinda funny, because they have 5 kids -- and three of them are ages 3 to 5 (two are adopted, so the ages seem really really strange, but it is because two aren't theirs biologically). So it's always a party in their house. And even though Digna didn't understand what they were saying she seemed to have a really fun time watching all of the kids and watching the parents try to keep them in check. And Brother Snow chatted with her the whole time, so it was a great day for everyone. And having a great meal that I didn't have to prepare makes me happy.

With Aida gone, we don't really have a lot of things that are set in stone. We have been trying to find new people to teach. We finally found a few yesterday after searching all week. It's just kinda hard because knocking doors is the best finding method for us, but we're normally kinda booked in the evenings when most people are going to be home. Fortunately we just switched to the early block of church, and so now we're really free every Sunday afternoon to look for people. And lots of people are off work on Sundays, so we've got our fingers crossed that we can keep our teaching pool pretty deep.

I can't think of much else that has gone on. It's crazy to think that this transfer is half over now! We're pretty certain that Elder S is going to leave this area. Kinda sad. But good for him to go somewhere and keep growing. Good for me to be forced to step up (even more than before).

Anyway, we're doing good. Working hard. Trying to keep cool (it hasn't been too hot lately...). Spreading the good word as best we can!

Thanks for everything!

Love you all!


Week 38 - July 30, 2012

Hi everyone!

Yesterday was a good day for a few reasons. Let me tell you about them!

We had lots of people come to church again, so that was cool. It's hard. And crazy. And wears you out. But good, too. :)  Aida came for her last Sunday in Indiana. She's moving to Louisville this week (if all goes well with the apartment). We are sad to see her go, but she has already been to the branch over there and has made friends with a lot of people, so we think that it's for the best that she goes to a unit where there are more Hispanics for her to interact with. She is so amazing, and after Gospel Principles class she said, "I just want to tell y'all something. Thank you so much for being so kind and helping me learn the gospel." And she talked about how good she feels now, how strong she is now, and that she's so happy, etc, because she has come to know the awesomeness of the church! It was possibly the neatest experience of my mission to hear someone that I met, taught, and watched progress talk about their love for the gospel.

If that wasn't my favorite moment, it's possible that going to Michael's baptism was my favorite mission moment. The Assistants work in the Louisville Singles branch, and they are the ones that received Michael after we contacted him in the park a while back. They come play basketball with us on Mondays, so we would ask how he was doing, progressing, etc. They told us a few weeks ago about his baptism, and we really really wanted to go. So, we asked the Assistants what the rule was on it. Technically, we aren't really allowed to leave our area for stuff like that unless the investigator requests that the missionaries come. But the Assistants asked president (after all, we're only 20 minutes away), and we got to come! So being friends with mission leaders is helpful. Haha.

When he came around the corner and saw us, he was absolutely stunned! Totally speechless. He was really excited that we were there, and after the baptism he told us that we were the third set of missionaries that had met him and tried to share the gospel with him. For whatever reason, he decided to give it a try after we saw him that day at the park. And here he is, a strong convert! He is so so so cool. It was way fun to be there for him. Also, it was so bizarre to be around a lot of singles. I'm really glad that I'll never serve in that branch because I'd just want to pal around with them and do normal stuff. Haha. Anyway, it was just kinda crazy to watch it all happen, because it was the miracle of missionary work in action. Here's the timeline: Contacted in a park -- nice conversation -- receive address and phone number -- pass it along to other missionaries -- he is taught -- he keeps commitments -- he gains a testimony -- he is baptized! Most of the time that line never really makes it past the "taught" phase, since not everyone keeps commitments or gains testimonies. But it happened! And we witnessed it! It was cool. :)

As the big-wig district leader I am (joke), I went on two exchanges into other areas last week. It was hard leaving our car behind -- I'm super paranoid that another missionary is going to screw it up. But I left it and Elder S behind to work in two English areas for a day. One day was in a bike area, and I just about died. It was so hot that day! But I definitely got a tan, so that was exciting. Then a few days later I worked in a car area, but we still walked a lot, so I tanned a little more! It was kinda lame, because neither companionship had any appointments, so all we did was contact people and tract. Pretty ordinary days. But it's fun to spend time with other missionaries and get a breather from your area and your companion.

I think that's about all that we were up to this week. We're doing good. It's so hard to believe that it's just about August. Where has the time gone? Before I know it I'll be heading into my second (and final) winter. And phone calls. And General Conferences. All that jazz. It's crazy! But really really cool too.

Thanks for everything! Have a good week!


Week 37 - July 23, 2012

Hey there!

Another fast week here in Clarksville. A few exciting things happened this week, one of them was a visit from Elder Munns, of the Seventy. We drove into Louisville and met with tons and tons of other missionaries for the meeting. It was really good, and he and his wife are really really great. They were mission presidents in Japan before he was called to the Seventy, so they had interesting stories to tell. He talked about how during his mission they always taught lessons in the church building. Well, if anyone ever bailed on them, they would go down to the train station nearby and contact people, even for just 5 minutes, and run back to their appointment, that way they were using their time most effectively. He said that more of those contacts ended up progressing in the gospel than tracting and other ways to find people, and I thought it was way cool that just a few minutes to rest could be better used just to chat for a second with someone. We don't have any busy train stations, so it's hard to find people sometimes, but we still are trying to talk to more people and spread the gospel. Also, that Michael guy that I have written about -- the one we contacted at the park last month -- he's getting baptized next week! Way cool! So no effort is wasted, because we just never know who is ready for this message!

It seems like we had more people in Kentucky that wanted to fight or Bible bash with us -- people here aren't too hostile. But the other day we met a lady who we thought was really nice at first, and then got kinda crazy on us. We said hello to her, and asked if we could share a card. Then she broke into this giant rant about how if we were true disciples of Christ we would be down in the dirt, helping the less fortunate, etc. She said that if we really loved Christ and all of our brothers and sisters, we would be willing to give up anything for them. And after she said something she thought was impressive or a zing, she would say, "Real talk." It turned into a big "I don't have any money," kind of thing. So we told her that we don't do the money thing, and that we would call her if we found out anything for her. But the whole time I was thinking that the gospel would fix your life more than money and donations anyway, so I'm glad we don't do that kind of stuff as missionaries. How's that for some "real talk." She also tried to tell us Jesus was black. In the end, it doesn't really matter, does it? But we walked away laughing, and "real talk" is our new favorite thing to say. Haha.

We got a call from a chaplain that works in a hospice program. He is taking care of a Puerto Rican lady that says she's a Mormon, and he asked if we could go by and visit her. Her name is Digna, and she got baptized in Puerto Rico a few years ago. Now she's got some health problems, and is here in the States living with her daughter and granddaughter. I'm so so glad we brought a member along with us, because I did not understand much of what she said when we got there. She's worse that Cubans, and they are pretty hard to understand most of the time! Haha. Anyway, she is super duper nice, and she is in good enough shape to come to church and everything, so she and her granddaughter came yesterday! That was cool. And our ward is having a talent show on Friday, and they want to come to that as well, so we might have just significantly increased the Hispanic LDS population in the ward! Hahaha.

Church was actually a big day yesterday, because Digna and her granddaughter came, Rodrigo and Esbeyda came for the second time, another investigator named Elmer came, and a less-active we just started working with came! Sundays are a little stressful when you are trying to get everyone situated and have translation and all that jazz. But it was way cool! It wipes you out though. I guess that's why P-day is after Sunday -- so you can recuperate a little. I'm still tired though! Haha.

I can't think of too much else. Oh, Aida is doing well. They are probably going to move into Louisville in August, so that's sad. But she likes the branch over there, so that's good. There's a better group of Hispanics over there, so I think that it could be a really good permanent place for her.

Keep on keepin' on! Y'all are the best! Real talk. Hahaha


Week 36 - July 16, 2012

Hi family --

Sure enough, I turned 22 last week! It's kinda funny, when a new transfer starts you go through your planner and write in all of you meetings and all of the dates. I had decorated my birthday in some colored pens way back at the beginning of last transfer, and it was kind of startling when we were planning for our lessons and things last week that my birthday had already come! It seemed like so long ago that I had decorated that page. Anyway, I had a great birthday this year. I got the packages from you guys, and from the Farrs as well. I loved everything, especially my beautiful new watch! :)  It's even cooler because it's from a car-maker. Hahaha. And then the Alldaffer's had us over that night for cake, and that was lots of fun. They seriously are the coolest family ever! Also, the sister missionaries serving in Charlestown decorated a planner for me for this transfer (everyone cuts out quotes and pictures from old Ensigns to make the planners a little more exciting). They put scriptures every few pages and things. It's awesome. And then yesterday, the super awesome Bisoso family found out that my birthday last week and are having us over this Thursday for some authentic Mexican food. They joined the church 6 years ago and have stuck it out all this time, even though they aren't fluent in English (they are pretty good though) because they know it's true. They are easily the coolest convert family I have ever met.

Happy Birthday to me!
So anyway, we had a good week. Something else cool happened on Thursday besides commemorating the day that I came into the world. We were on exchanges with our district leader and his companion. Elder S was off riding a bike in their area, and Elder D was with me in our area. We had a really cool appointment with Rodrigo and Esbeyda. Because I was the only Spanish missionary, I was the only one teaching. Which is actually kind of awesome, because that means I am in complete control. Normally Elder S and I do pretty good together, but it's fun to know exactly where you're going with things. We see the potential in Rodrigo and Esbeyda, so I kind of got on them (lovingly) about not reading and praying and coming to church. She just got a new job so she doesn't work Sundays (answer to prayer and fasting!!!!!). But they aren't progressing. So we read some scriptures and I explained why we harp and push the Book of Mormon. If it's true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet. If he was a prophet, then Christ's church has been restored. If it's been restored, we don't need to look anywhere else for any kind of answers or guidance because it's all in one place! And at the end I just poured my heart out to them, telling them how amazing the gospel is, and how God loves them and wants them to be happy. I told them that this stuff is true. We aren't brainwashed zombies that do this. We are people that want to share the awesomeness with others! It was so still and quiet and warm and awesome. I know that they were feeling the Spirit, and we have high hopes that after yet another really great experience with them like that that they will keep going, and get acting on everything.

Aida is doing well. She went to a branch in Louisville yesterday, because she was visiting her son over there. That's the 8th Sunday in a row that she's been to church. :) She was just so ready for this stuff in her life.

Interesting news! Elder S and I are staying together for another transfer. This will be the longest that I've ever been with one companion. The other interesting news... President called us on Saturday (that's the day everyone finds out if they're training or moving or going to be a leader). He asked me to be the district leader here! Kinda crazy. It isn't a giant deal -- you have to keep track of the numbers for the district and be a good example and put together some district meetings. I'm a little nervous, but it should all be okay.

That's about all for this week I think. We're doing good. We've gotten some rain. I love hearing the people here give thanks for the rain that "is so desperately needed" in their prayers. So your grass is a little yellow. You don't know nothin' 'bout a drought. Haha. But seriously, I'm glad it has rained. I want some green green grass while I'm out here!

Thanks for all you do for me! Y'all are the best!


Week 35 - July 9, 2012

Hi everyone!

Sounds like y'all had a good week. We did too! Aida was baptized on Saturday, and it all went really well. Because this week had a holiday in it, there weren't lots of people at her baptism (or church for that matter), but that's okay. Those that were there were so so good to her. Aida has made friends with a couple of the Spanish speakers in our ward, and they have been so great to come to our Gospel Principles class and keep up with her and everything. The baptism went really well. It was kind of funny... when she and Brother Romney were in the font, he explained to her where to place her hands and things, and then he told her to make sure to bend her knees. I guess that always makes it easier. Well, she thought that meant going straight down into the water, instead of laying back into the water. He didn't explain to bend the knees while he laid her down, so after he said the little prayer she kind of crouched down into the water. But she went all the way under so that was all that mattered! Hahaha. It was definitely nothing I had ever seen before. Haha. She was confirmed yesterday in Sacrament meeting and that all went well.

We went to the Spanish fireside in the mission home last night, and that was cool. It's so fun to hear the testimonies of converts. It makes me excited for Aida to progress and one day go to the temple. It's scary to work with people that are just getting into the gospel. There's so much to learn. And life-long members have so much left to learn too, but we know the teachings of the Gospel Principles book like the back of our hand, but to them, so much of it is new or different! But the fireside is way cool, because I see the successful converts and get excited thinking about Aida going to the temple and stuff.

Brother Romney conducted the meeting (he kind of does all things Spanish in and around Louisville), and actually kind of put Aida on the spot at the end of the meeting. He asked her to share a few words. She talked about how grateful she was to learn about the gospel after so many years in Cuba, and that she feels different -- better -- than before. She said she knows the things that she has been taught are true. What more can you ask for?! It was way great. :)

Mom, you mentioned zone conference and I realized that I totally forgot to write about it last week! It was good. I love getting together with missionaries. I still am kind of uncomfortable when there are so many in one place because I feel like I don't know anyone still, but you can band together with the Spanish missionaries because you see them more often (Spanish firesides mostly) and can swap lots of stories (it seems that all Hispanics seem to have the same problems, so we can relate a little better to each other than to the English missionaries). Also, zone conference was in an eastern suburb of Louisville, and we had to drive ourselves so that the senior couple that manages all things cars and apartments could inspect each one and ensure that we take care  of everything. It was gorgeous driving out there. We drove on a free way that looked like it had been put in the tree tops. Everything on either side of us was just trees, and they were really really thick, so you couldn't really see into them very much. It reminded me of driving in Arkansas and Missouri when we went out there.

At zone conference President talked about teaching tithing effectively to our investigators. I haven't ever had a cool experience with tithing, but I do think that I managed to pay my tuition only because I had always cut a check to the church every time I got paid. It's probably just because I think writing checks is fun, but I kinda like paying tithing. It makes me feel like I'm doing some good somewhere, you know?

Elder S and I were asked to share a story about contacting at zone conference. We talked about how as Spanish missionaries, it's hard to contact 20 Hispanics daily, so we end up talking to lots of English speakers. We talked about Michael, the man from Louisville that was super duper interested that we met at the park. We encouraged them to keep talking to everyone, because the promise that was extended to us from President when he told us to do this was that the success of the whole mission would boom. So we didn't find any new investigators that day. But Michael has accepted a baptismal date for the end of July, and had we not gone to that park that day, who knows when he would have been introduced to missionaries?! So that's cool. And we heard from the elders that are teaching him that he is amazing, and is progressing! Elder St. Martin and I want to find a way to go to his baptism in Louisville.

As for the rest of the missionary work here in Clarksville, it's kind of struggling. Rodrigo and Esbeyda still exist. We haven't seen them in a while, because he went on a trip to Salt Lake to see his sister that lives there. He said he was going to see the temple on his trip, so hopefully the Spirit touched his heart a little while he was there! Also, Esbeyda got a new job and has Sundays off so they can come to church! We are trying to get things rolling with them. It has been so long since we started working with them, but they are just awesome. They need this! So we keep trying.

Can't think of much else... Oh. I turn 22 on Thursday. What the crap? Weird! One year closer to cheaper car insurance. And being able to rent cars. And being an actual adult that pays bills and has a real job and stuff. Good thing I have a little while longer as a missionary to avoid some of the not so cool stuff of adulthood. Haha.

Thanks for everything! Y'all are the coolest. Seriously. And the gospel. The gospel is the coolest too. :)

I love you guys!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Week 34 - July 2, 2012

Hi everyone!

Well, the humidity got here yesterday. It's gross, and I am not a fan! Hahaha. But we'll live. And we had a cool lightning show last night during a storm, so that was fun. And we know that we won't have wildfires like in Arizona, so I guess that makes them even better out here.

This week was good. We feel like we worked hard, though it was one of those weeks that might not really show any of the fruits of your labors. We're still working with Aida, and all seems well for her baptism this weekend. She is just so cool. She is nervous for it, and to be honest, I'm nervous for it. It's just rough that this is an English ward. The two Spanish branches are 25 and 30 miles away, and she already needs rides to church because her family isn't super supportive. So many challenges to overcome in any conversion story, they just seem to be amplified as a Spanish missionary. But she has such great faith, we hope that she can continue on, and that the ward will pull it together. There are some inactive Hispanics on the roster here, but other than Aida and one family that makes the sacrifice to drive out to a Spanish branch, she's kind of the only Hispanic in the pews. But God sent us here to teach in Spanish, so we're doing it!

I guess I don't have much to say this week. Things have been fine, it just wasn't super eventful. And I'm kind of tired today, for some reason. Pray for us that we can get everything done this week, and that Aida will have the courage to keep going, despite language barriers and all of the other challenges of being new in the gospel.

We're doing good. Working hard. It might be Elder S time to leave Clarksville at the end of the transfer, but we aren't positive. There's just no way to know. I don't really want a new companion just yet, but I also don't really want to stay here for too long. And normally, the person that comes to an area first, leaves first, so the sooner he's gone, the sooner I can go. I learned with my previous area that you might love the people and enjoy what's going on, but a change reinvigorates you. Gets you pumped up a little bit, to do new things, meet new people, etc. I'm not dying to leave right now, but this would be a hard area to stay in for a long time. Elder S was here for five transfers. Five! And that's just too many.

Anyway, all is well. I'm glad everyone back home is doing good! Y'all have a good week!