Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Goodbye EFY

Hello All!

This has been another interesting week. Mostly because of all of the long meetings we had this week so there really wasn't much time for working. Tuesday we had Zone Conference. It was awesome. The big announcement from Zone conference was from President Beck. He got up and banned EFY music. (For those who don't know, EFY or Especially For Youth, is a summer program for teenagers.) He banned it for different reasons than I would have... apparently being musically tacky isn't reason enough to ban something... and I think I am probably the only missionary in the mission celebrating. All in all it was a really really fun conference, and it was very fun to see the other missionaries. Also it was fun to go see some of the other sisters. As sister missionaries sometimes we feel a little like an island, and it was fun to see some of the sisters from the other areas. We even got up early and had breakfast at the apartment of the sisters who were catching a ride with us to the conference. That was way fun.

Wednesday we had an enormous district meeting. This month as a mission we are focusing on planning better. So, Wednesday we all got together and had a massive weekly planning session. It was actually pretty fun. One of the Elders had been sent a Little Ceasars gift card and so he used it to buy pizza for everyone. Then we all spread out across the building and did our weekly planning. It's way easier to stay focused when you aren't in your apartment. Hna Ayala and I have decided we're never doing weekly planning at home again.

Wednesday we ended up driving into Peoria to trade companions for exchanges for Thursday. Exchanges were interesting. They certainly helped me see that I'm not exactly the easiest person to work with. Especially since I was working in my own area with a companion who was just here for the day. I was very excited to get Hna Ayala back at the end of the day. That said, we did have some really good visits on Thursday and found some people who were willing to have us come back, so I can't complain.

Friday we spent the day going through our records trying to find people who had previously met with missionaries and might be interested in meeting with us again. Knocking doors has been less than fruitful lately, so we thought we'd try a different approach. It's been slightly more successful, and now at least we are coming into this week with a good number of appointments.

Saturday was a weird day. We had an early morning appointment at 9am so we had to get up and get out pretty fast. Especially because it was on the other end of our area, so we had a good 20 minute car drive to get out there. We met up with Maria, a woman who we had tracted into and we had a pretty good appointment with her. We'll have to see how next Saturday goes with her. She's traditionally Catholic, as opposed to religiously Catholic. You see that a lot with Mexicans. They're Catholic more out of tradition than conviction, but it still makes for some interesting conversations... especially about the Virgin Guadeloupe (the Mexican version of the Virgin Mary). I'm still a little sketchy on exactly what makes Guadeloupe different from the Virgin Mary, I've heard all sorts of descriptions ranging from that she is the mother of all Mexicans to that she is no different than the traditional Virgin Mary. Maybe one of these days I'll get that one figured out.

After visiting Maria we went and stopped by Alma and had breakfast with her and her mom, Petra. It was so much fun, and it was the first time Petra was really willing to just sit and talk with us. She is hilarious! I had a blast listening to her tell stories, and she's quite the sassy Mexican. I also learned what Mexicans eat for breakfast... scrambled eggs with onions and jalapeƱos, beans, and tortillas. It was pretty good. I'm still working on learning to eat like they do with their tortillas... no one uses utensils much, you just grab and scoop with the tortillas... I use utensils because I hate having beans or random other foods running down my arms. After Alma's we spent the rest of the day driving around just visiting lots of people.

We ended our night over at Rossy and Reuben's. That was an interesting visit. As a missionary it's frustrating to see how little we can do to get people to make changes in their lives. We can encourage, we can promise blessings, we can bring over members who made the same changes but none of it matters unless the individual wants to make those changes for themselves. That's kind of where we are at with Reuben. We've got to get him to a point where he sees that his choices aren't good ones and then get him ready to make those changes. When we stopped by Saturday it became very very apparent that he isn't even trying to make those changes. Yuck. We were really really bummed after that visit. That might be an understatement. It's amazing after just two months of knowing people your heart can break for them and you really really hurt for them.

Sunday was a pretty typical day. The hardest thing for me about Sundays is we have meetings we have to be at at 7am. Not fun. I really have no idea of how I survived seminary, because one meeting a week at 7am is killing me. I think the difference is that as a missionary I feel like I have to look presentable for those meetings, I never really felt that way about seminary.

Today for p-day we went over to Hermana Lopez's and she taught us how to make earrings. Hermana Lopez is the wife of Presidente Lopez, one of the counselors in the mission presidency. I absolutely love them both. We joke that Presidente Lopez is the muscle in the mission presidency, he was a rough and tough Mexican fighter until he found the church just over 10 years ago. Now he just looks rough and tough, but he is absolutely amazing. We love working with him and bringing him to lessons, and his wife loves to come out with the Sisters, which we also love. She invited us over a few weeks ago to come make jewelry with her on p-day and today we finally worked everything out to be able to do so. It was way fun, and I got a new pair of earrings out of the deal. Awesome! Next p-day we're going over to Hna Madrueno's so that she can teach me how to make true Mexican salsa. I'm pretty excited.

We have to run. I love you all lots and am so grateful for your prayers and support. Have a wonderful week!
Hermana Okeson

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