Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Sorry I didn't get out a letter sooner. Monday the library was closed, and then on Tuesday we were on exchanges with the Aguila sisters... so here I am writing you all on a Wednesday. It's a little weird. I've really become accustomed to writing on a Monday, and so it seems a little odd to be writing in the middle of the week.
Christmas was really good. We were expected to be in our apartments at 6pm on Christmas eve, and then our Christmas day appointments were to be kept short. It worked out well. For Christmas eve Hna Harding and I ate tamales (a Mexican tradition... one of the Hna's in the ward gave us enough tamales to last a life time) and then after eating we made some cookies to take to the families that we work with. Christmas morning we were up bright an early and while my companion was rather chipper, I woke up with quite the headache, so as a Christmas gift to myself I showered as fast as I could and then went back to bed until studies started at 8. At church I was able to play flute. I really enjoyed it. I have really loved being able to play more this year. I'm a pretty rusty, but luckily for church stuff it's never anything difficult, so I do fine.
After church we ate dinner with the Bencomo family, and then started our visits. My favorite visit of the year was with the Texta family. If I had to pick a favorite family from my mission, the Texta's would be at the top of my list. I love them! They were baptized six months ago, and they are some of the best people I have ever met. They have three kids, and I just love every chance I have to be with them. We took the "Joy to the World" movie over to them with a plate of cookies. The kids polished off the cookies in a matter of minutes, and then we watched the movie. As it finished there was a beautiful spirit in their home, and we were able to talk with them about how the changes they have made in the last 6 months have blessed their family. We were then able to re commit them to work to become an eternal family. I really loved listening to them talk about how their family has been blessed and the way their lives have been changed in the last 6 months. It's moments like those where I really remember why I came on a mission, and I feel so grateful for the chance I have had to serve.
Our other exciting event of the week happened on Thursday. Thursday we got a flat tire, and when I say flat I mean, completely flat. Later we discovered that a huge screw had worked it's way into the tire... lucky us. Actually, it was Hno Texta and his 10 year old son, Manuel, who came to our rescue. The Hno was very pleased to be able to help us, and we were very pleased to have the help. In the process I learned my new favorite vocabulary word. "Gato". Those of you who may know a little Spanish might know that "gato" means "cat" (like the animal). What I discovered is that "gato" also means "jack" (like that thing you use to pick up the car). The funniest part of all of this was after learning this word, the Texta's showed up to help us, and Manuel turned to his father and said, in English, "Hey Dad, should I go get the cat?" I was left with the mental image of some poor cat being used as a lever to lift up the car. :)
As I hinted at the beginning of my e-mail, yesterday we had exchanges with the Aguila Hermanas. Much to my disappointment, I did not get to go back to Aguila. I would have loved to go back and work in that area for a day again, but I guess it was not to be. Instead I just sent Hna Harding with a list of people to give bear hugs to. I had a great time being with Hna Brown for the day. She came out not long after me, and I really enjoyed working with her. I love seeing how different missionaries work and how they serve. I learn so much each time I get to work with a different missionary, and I love that. It was also fun to pick her brains about all the people I remember from when I served in Aguila. It's great to hear how they are doing.
Mom asked about my favorite finding activity... I think it's just talking to people on the street. I love getting to know them, finding out a little about their lives and families and then looking for how the Gospel of Jesus Christ can help them. I've really seen how the world is full of so many good people. Every day I get to interact with them, and I love that.
My favorite teaching situation is with families, I don't know that I have a favorite thing to teach, but I love helping people. I love helping them see how their lives can be better, and helping them to achieve so much more. I guess my favorite single thing to teach is probably that there is a God and He loves us... a lot of people need to know that.
Have a wonderful week, and a happy new year!
Monday, December 19, 2011
This week has been the biggest rollercoaster week of my mission. I think God wants me to learn more about patience and faith and probably a lot more things. First, the downer parts, and then I'll share how it all worked out. As we started the week we had a good number of lessons with our new and progressing investigators. I was feeling pretty good about it all, as it had been a bit of a rough start in this area. Well, by Wednesday night all of our progressing investigators had dropped us or were impossible to get ahold of. The family we were teaching called and said they had changed their mind and were no longer interested, and a lot of other things like that happened right out of the blue. I was dying. When you train a new missionary you want things to go really well to build their confidence and to help them know they can be successful, and this was not going anything like how I had imagined. Thursday I was pretty down, and got a pretty bad migraine which didn't help anything. But that is where our miracles begin.
Thursday night we didn't have a lot of time left to work once I was finally feeling better, but we prayed and wanted to go find people to teach. We felt really good about a certain road, and like Trent, the very first house was interested. Turns out that the grandfather in this family had joined the church in California and just come here and wants to come to church and also to have his daughter and her family learn more. We're pretty excited. It's not every day you run into a part member family who are really interested and haven't met with missionaries before. Friday was the mission conference, which was so good. Sister Taylor pulled me aside and we were able to talk for a while which was super helpful. I really love working with the Taylors, and have really felt so blessed to serve with them. The rest of the conference was really good. I enjoyed seeing the other sisters, and then going to the temple as a mission was really good. I remember going last year and loving it, and this year was just as amazing. Saturday we ended up in the mission office to meet with President for some follow up on the training program. It was really helpful for me, and I was greatful for the advice I recieved. After that we came back down and went to work. We were able to set a baptismal date, which I'll tell you a little more about in a minute, and we had a really really needed lesson with a recent convert family that we have been working with. The end result of that one came on Sunday when the rest of the family who have never wanted to have anything to do with the church all came to church, and stayed for all three hours. Incredible.
Now for a little about the Chavez family. They are the family who we had a first lesson scheduled with for Monday night. Mike, their 21 year old son just got home from a mission in Texas, and is really excited about his family finally being interested in learning. We had a really really incredible lesson with his younger sister Jessica on Saturday night. We had planned to teach about the restoration of the gospel, but we got in there and within a few minutes invited and committed her to be baptized on January first. It was one of the most memorable moments of my mission. As she committed to be baptized she then turned to her older brother and asked him if he would baptize her. It was an incredible moment. Then Sunday night we came over to teach Mike's mom, Isabell. I'm pretty sure she taught us instead of us teaching her. She is one of the most spiritually intune people I have ever worked with. I learned so much in just an hour with her, and I am so excited to continue working with her. Dad is a little less interested, but we'll keep trying... some things just take time.
I thought I would end today sharing a few thoughts about Christmas and this past year. First, being a missionary is the best, but also the hardest thing I have ever done. As I chatted with President on Saturday we both agreed that when you set off on a mission you really don't know what you are getting into, and that honestly, it's probably better that way. There are a lot of things that you just don't expect or that don't work quite like you want them too. It's also so rewarding, because you get to watch lives change and you get to spend every day serving and helping people. I remember a few years ago Grandpa Okeson shared some thoughts in a testimony meeting at church about missions. He talked about how after serving his mission he came home with lots more grandkids, and that they weren't necesarily biological grandchildren, but that he loved them from the time that he had been able to spend serving them. Well, I've found the same thing on my mission. I've really come to love the people I've served. I've found people I love like family after just working with them for a few weeks, and I would do anything for them. I am amazed by how much I want to give and how much I want to help. This is really amazing. I love being a missionary!
Have a wonderful Christmas!
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Well, when I came to e-mailing today I thought I would have the winning "ouch" story of the week, but Morgan, you sure out did me. I hope you get better quickly! Any sort of fracture just doesn't sound fun. As for myself, I don't know if you all remember, but in late August/ early September I went in to have my toes looked at. I was having problems with my big toe nail and the long story short was that as the doctor was explaining to me what he would do to fix it, I passed out. Well, I had vowed never to go back, but by last week my toe was really hurting and so I decided maybe I should suck it up and go back. I have the most disgusting looking toe right now! I made it through the procedure, and I got home and was fine that day, but then the next day, Saturday morning, I had to take off the bandaging to clean my toe and re bandage it. I passed out on my poor companion. Right there in the middle of the floor. My toe looked pretty bad, and I wasn't quite ready for that. Whoops. The whole thing made me rather ill, and I was pretty sore, so Saturday was a bit of a slow day for us. I'm feeling pretty good today, and if all goes well, we'll be back on bikes tomorrow. I've attached a picture of my bandaged toe for all of you... mostly because the picture turned out pretty cool looking. :)
Yikes! I'm pretty much out of e-mail time. This week has been a crazy one. We've had a bit of a rough run of it, but it seems like all rough weeks are followed by really good weeks, so I'm not too worried. We have the Christmas Conference for the mission on Friday and I'm quite excited. I'm playing flute for it. It's been really fun having a flute, I've gotten many chances to play over the last few months since getting the flute, and it's nice because I just have one to use instead of having to hunt. We also get to go to the temple for the conference which will be nice. I'm really excited. Also, we have a new family that we are teaching, which I'm excited about. It's a part member family, their 21 year old son just got home from a mission, and now his family wants to learn more. I'm excited to see where this goes. We have a lesson with them tonight.
I think that's about all. I'm sorry this was really short. Hopefully next week I'll have more for you.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Happy December! As you know from my last e-mail last week was transfers. This starts my 10th transfer. CRAZY! I am now serving with Hermana Harding. She is from Orem Utah and just graduated from BYU with a degree in Spanish. It's so nice being with someone who really knows Spanish, and makes my job as her companion sooooooo much easier. We're having a good time together, and I am enjoying serving with her.
Life in La Joya is moving forward. We had a rough start this week with transfers throwing everything off, and then trying to get everything taken care of and settled, but by the end of the week things were going pretty good. Right now we are still in the process of finding, which is fun with a new missionary. I am remembering all of my nerves at the start of my mission and how much I hated contacting and just talking to people on the street. We've done lots of practice and it's getting better. I can't say I love just going up to people and talking to them, but you certainly do get more comfortable with it. I'm also enjoying doing the training program for the second time, I feel like I understand it a lot better this time around and like I know more what I am doing. That's always nice. Last time I was learning right along with Hna Graves, but this time I know a little more what to expect.
For my amusing story of the night I thought I would tell you about the "friend" I found in my bathroom my first night with Hna Harding. Let me preface this by saying we live in kind of ghetto apartments, but they aren't the worst ones in the mission. I walked into my bathroom and there sitting on my counter was the world’s biggest COCKROACH!!! GROSS! I was mildly displeased, and at 9:30 at night might have called the senior missionary over missionary housing and demanded that he come the next morning to de-roach our apartment. He found it rather funny, and I have offers from some of the Elders who heard about my cockroach friend that after we killed him they would mount him on a plaque for the mission office that would read "World's Biggest Cockroach, found by Hna Okeson". The Cockroach is now dead, but I decided to return him to his rightful home and flush him down the toilet. We have roach killer stuff all over, and we've not seen any evidence of any roaches since. *shudder*
Besides my roachy friend, it's been a pretty uneventful week. It's been freezing cold! I've worn under armor under my tights every day this week, and multiple other layers, and I'm still freezing. I guess being out in the sun all summer really has ruined me. We've also seen more rain in the last few days than I've seen in my whole time here... which means it's rained for about a total of 2 hours if you add it all up. None the less, it is cold, especially out on a bike.
Well, I think that is everything. Oh, I stuck a picture on of the advent calendar that you all sent. I've really enjoyed opening the different presents each day.
Love you lots!