Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pictures as Promised

1. Hiking Last P-day
2. Hiking again with all of the Sisters in our Zone

3. Hna Hoof and the Perea Family, a family we love to stop by and teach. Those boys keep us on our toes every time we go.
4. The Daugherty Family, one of our favorite families in the ward.

5. Our Christmas stockings we made with the Daugherties

6. Our cut our Christmas tree, stockings, and most importantly, your favorite sister missionaries.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Life in Aguila

Hi Everyone!
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We had quite the event full Christmas here as we were covering two wards, so we had lots of people to stop by. It was so fun, and I think I have tried more variations on tamales in the last few days than I ever expected to try in a lifetime. Yum. We also got our share of other dishes with the winner being dinner with Alma, the sister who got baptized in early December. She made a really really yummy Postole (beef and corn soup... ish...) for us for Christmas Eve and it was fun to stop by and visit her. On Christmas morning we read the Christmas story as a companionship and then opened our presents by our cardboard Christmas tree. After we made sugar cookies to take by families. It was fun to get to make and decorate cookies and made me think of years of doing it at home.

The not so surprising news is that I am getting a new companion, but I am staying here in Aguila. We'd suspected that I would stay, but you never know with transfers. There are a good bunch of sisters getting transferred this time, so I'm really curious to find out who I will be serving with. I guess you'll have to wait until next week to find out.

I set what I hope to be a once-in-a-mission record of 7 straight hours of church this past Sunday. I went to 3 different wards and by the end of the last one (Aguila) I was exhausted. I got to put my piano skills to use in Aguila though because the Sister who normally plays was in Mexico. Then, not only did I get to play for Sacrament Meeting (and sightread Christmas hymns I'd never really looked at before) but I also got hauled into Primary to play for them. That was the exciting one, because a lot of the songs are almost the same, but since Spanish words are way longer there are all sorts of extra notes thrown in all over the place. At this rate I'm going to be one heck of a sightreader on the piano by the time I get home. I'm already way way more comfortable with sightreading on the piano than I ever was before, and I keep getting asked to play for all sorts of things.

I thought I'd send some more pictures home in this e-mail, so I hope you enjoy these. A lot of these are pictures that we took before Hna Hoof went home, so these are partially for her, but I think you all will enjoy them. (to be added soon, just a letter for now)

1. Hiking last P-day
2. Hiking again with all of the Sisters in our Zone
3. Hna Hoof and the Perea Family, a family we love to stop by and teach. Those boys keep us on our toes every time we go.
4. The Daugherty Family, one of our favorite families in the ward.
5. Our Christmas stockings we made with the Daugherties
6. Our cut our Christmas tree, stockings, and most importantly, your favorite sister missionaries.

As for other news, hmmm... I feel like this past week was really quite a blur, we really kept super busy trying to cover both areas and I think we tried to make a huge dent in the allotted car miles that we are given... whoops. I guess that's what you get when you cover two areas that aren't particularly close to each other.

I think one of my favorite happenings from Christmas was that evening when all the missionaries from my district got together for a party at the church. Some missionaries are just so typical. It turned into a favorite door knocking story party, followed by watching the Joseph Smith movie and everyone chipping in on their own random hearsay about church history. We have a really nice district of 2 companionships of Sisters and 3 companionships of Elders. I also got to learn how to make Abuelita, the mexican form of hot chocolate, although I decided to avoid it in favor of not having headache problems, but at least I know how to make it now. It's actually pretty yummy.

Well, I think that is about it for the last week. I look forward to being able to tell you next week about my companion and how things are going here in Aguila. Have a wonderful week!

Hermana Okeson

Ps. We're only allowed to open e-mails from immediate family, so for you clever friends who figured out what my e-mail is, I wish I could read it and write you back but I can't. Send me a letter some time, I'd love to see more than just your name in my inbox! All of my contact info should be on facebook. If you can't find it, leave a comment and I'm sure my Mom would be happy to send you my info.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lesson Learned

Hi Family and Friends,
I learned a valuable lesson, just because you end p-day early to write another day doesn't mean it's going to be easy to find time to get a letter in. So, here's a really short and quick letter, and hopefully things will go better this next p-day so I can write a better letter.
I was intrigued in one of Trent's recent letters where he wrote about going by an unspoken rule of "if your English is better than my Chinese, then we speak English." So, I decided to watch and see how that affects what we do. For us, primarily it's if you are under 30 and you've lived in the states for the last 5 or more years, we speak in English, after that then it's almost completely in Spanish. Little kids tend towards wanting to speak English, but I love hearing them speak Spanish, so I try to keep speaking to them in Spanish to see if they'll switch over. The Bishop in the ward I serve in is very adamant about trying to get families to stick to their heritage and speak Spanish at home, so often the kids in these families speak very good Spanish, which I'm told is not always the case.
We finally managed to get a Christmas tree, which my companion and I are very excited about. It's a cardboard cut out of a tree that was left over from a preschool program that was held in the church last Thursday, and it works perfectly, we've taped it up on the wall and we're pretty happy to have it and our apartment looks quite festive.
Christmas is such a fun time to be a missionary, I'm really enjoying getting out and working with people and being with the ward members and our investigators. People seem to stop and listen just a little longer to our message and to find out a little more about what we have to say. It's nice, and we're teaching some really wonderful people. The weather here feels like summer, and so it doesn't really feel like Christmas, and I always laugh seeing light up snowmen here because they look so out of place. We had the great opportunity to go caroling with the Youth this week, and it was so fun to pass by and visit some of the people we are teaching and sing carols for them.
Well, we've got to run. Hopefully this p-day we'll work everything out and the place we normally go for e-mailing will be open so we don't run into problems.
Lots of love!
Hermana Okeson

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A picture is worth a 1,000 words!

Hi Family,
We're short on e-mail time today becuase we had other things to take care of today, so you'll get an actual letter when we stop back by tomorrow. Instead in the few minutes I have I thought I'd send some pictures. I've heard some mention from the Peanut Gallery that they would likesome, so here you go!
1. At the Mesa Temple with my companion and the other sisters we live with.
2. My handlebars after my biking fiasco the first week.
3. Hna Hoof and I at the temple.
4. Half of the sister missionaries in the mission and Sister Beck.
5. MTC District with our teachers.
6. All the Sisters from my BYU ward who were at the MTC together. We took this picture to send to our Bishop. :-)
7. Alma's Baptism. The blonde sister is Hna Ochosinski, the sister I replaced. She got special permision to be able to come to the baptism.

Okay. I'll write a real letter tomorrow, but I thought you would all enjoy these pictures. I wish I had time to send more, but I was worried that the computer wouldn't like it. Maybe next time.

Okay, a short amusing story before I go. The ward members have informed me I speak Spanish with a South American accent. They're pretty convinced on that one, which I find funny, since I've never been to South America, nor have I really talked with a lot of peole from there. But there you go, I speak like I learned Spanish down in South America. I'll take it, atleast I'm not too gringo :)

Have a great day, and I'll send out a real letter tomorrow!
Love you all!
Hermana Okeson

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

First Baptism

Hi Family and Friends!
So, we're a little short on time today, and this week was absolutely jam packed, so we'll see what I can fit in. I wanted to upload pictures for you, but we're using computers that I don't particularly trust, so I guess it will have to wait until next week. The big news is that we got a building, and everything came together perfectly and Alma was baptized on Saturday. It was incredible. I absolutely love her, and then on Sunday when she shared her testimony I finally heard a little more about how she got interested in the church. It turns out that she had driven by our building for months and wanted to come check out the "new church" (our building is almost a year old). She just showed up 4 weeks ago. She'd been searching because she had a dream one night that she was walking and saw a tree with fruit that she knew she needed in her life, but she didn't know how to get there (sound familiar?) Four weeks after she first walked into our church building she was being confirmed a member. She has had so much support from members, and it's really shown me how desperately as missionaries we need them in our work. We just can't do this alone. Almost all of the baptisms we see here in Phoenix are ones from member referrals, or they are ones where the person getting baptized knows tons of members who really swoop in and help once they start meeting with missionaries (Alma). The baptism was so beautiful, and we had a huge miracle because her family came and supported her. Originally her mother and son were not going to come because they didn't agree with her decision. Then about a week before her son came out and said he would support her, and Saturday morning her mom told her that she was going to support her decision to be baptized.
Friday was also an incredible day. We had our Christmas Zone Conference. Half of the mission met together and we had a conference where President and Sister Beck spoke and then also President Lopez (the first counselor in the mission presidency) shared his conversion story. I was asked to play flute, and so I had to do some scrambling to find a flute, but I did and it sounded okay. Definitely not up to my usual par for playing, but I figure for not playing for three months (CRAZY!) I sounded pretty good. I have to say I absolutely love my mission president and his wife. Thursday we ended up at the mission office to take care of some things and I got to know them both a little better and am really enjoying them. At the Christmas Zone Conference their talks were both so good, and I loved listening to them. President Beck announced the New Year's mission goal, and I thought I would share it for those family members who might be interested. It is not something that he personally extended to families, but I'd like to invite anyone who is interested to join in. The invitation is to read the Book of Mormon in 60 days (the amount of time it took Joseph to translate it) and while reading it to highlight in 5 different colors the 5 parts of the doctrine of Christ, faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. We will be beginning as an entire mission on the 1st of January and finishing 60 days later. That means you read roughly 9-11 pages a day. Another wonderful part of the Christmas Conference is that they take all of the missionaries to the temple. It was so beautiful, and as we came out later in the evening we were able to see the temple all lit up and we got to listen to the Christmas music. It was such a beautiful evening. Hopefully I can attach pictures some time soon so you can all see.
A little more about my living situation and such. I am living with 2 other sisters, one is from Canada (interestingly enough she is also half native American, but I don't remember which tribe, but she does have a linguistics degree in Native American languages, which makes her incredibly cool) and the other sister is from Georgia. She's just celebrated her 5 year baptismal mark this past week, which was quite fun. We have a washer and dryer in our apartment which I have decided is a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because we live in a very poor area and who knows where we would find to wash our clothes, but it's a curse because with 4 sisters, the odds of actually doing a single load of wash on p-day are not good. Usually I end up doing laundry when every I have a minute to throw it in and then I call it good.
I'm starting to eat more Mexican food, but we really don't get fed that much. There is a rule in our mission that we are not allowed to eat at members houses unless they invite friends or we can bring an investigator. We're working on getting them to invite friends, and things are getting a little better. In the few meals I have eaten here I think I've eaten a life supply of beans. They eat them with everything, and I mean everything. That and corn tortillas, they don't really use forks, you just grab what you want with the tortilla and eat away. It's pretty fun. I think the favorite thing I've eaten here was today. A member fed us lunch and fed us a soup called "Postole" it's a pulled pork soup with a spicy broth. It has corn, and chilies and who knows what else and then a ton of cilantro. So yummy. I've got to learn how to make that one.
We're working like crazy here. I'm learning so much and I'm working really hard and getting so much each day. Keep us in your prayers and especially pray that the windows of heaven will open for us and that we can find those who are really ready for the gospel.
Love you lots!
Hermana Okeson