Monday, December 23, 2013

#9 Letter From Ecuador

Due to our Christmas call  from Natalie tomorrow evening, she only sent pictures this week.

Foto 1
Me and my beloved compañera Hermana Chil outside of the temple. I look like a giant.

Me and my companion with Elder Gray from Australia. He does this hand gesture and says Success! and me and my companion have adopted it. I´m just sending random stuff now because I don`t know what to say...  

Monday, December 16, 2013

#8 Letter From Ecuador

I forget it's Christmas because Holy Hannah it's a scorcher out there. Yesterday, it was very likely that I would die. But all is well!

I absolutely adore my companion! This week we went to the temple! We traveled to Guayaquil Wednesday night (and ate Pizza Hut what what) and then went to the temple early Thursday morning. (It was cool because they've finally translated the new presentation into Spanish and so most of the missionaries were seeing the new presentation for the first time. My companion included. We had a lovely whispered chat in the celestial room about how great it was).
After the temple, we had a capacitation with Presidente and Hermana Amaya, and then after that each zone (ours included) performed a short christmas themed skit that has to do with the obra de salvacion. I played a curtain.... yeah... 

Anyway while we were there it was pretty apparent to me that our zone lacks the same amount of unity that the other zones had, and this could be why we are one of the zones that has the most trouble meeting it's goals. Me and Hermana Chil got to thinking about this and decided that if we weren''t unified as a zone, who better to start fixing things than us?! So that's exactly what we're doing haha. We have prepared little things to give each companionship to brighten things up at our lately dismal district meetings, and this morning, we requested a meeting with the zone leaders to discuss our other ideas on how to unify the zone more. Let it be known that no, we have no leadership callings in this zone whatsoever, but we decided to not let that stop us. So we met with the ZLs this morning and told them what's up and they were really thankful and I believe we're going to implement some things in the meeting tomorrow, so I'll let you know how that goes. I love that she's a go-getter. If something isn't working, we as a companionship aren't going to sit idly by and hope it gets fixed, we're going to request a meeting with the ZLs! I love that I'm starting to feel more like myself in Spanish haha. 

What else what else.....
I got packages and letters! From Padre Rust, Dan and Em, Aunt Silvia, Uncle Spencer and a letter from CTR 7! I don't know if I should wait until Christmas or what but I'm excited! I smell essential oils in Aunt Silvia's package.... :)

I don't really know what else to say. We're working hard, but waiting to see the fruits of our labors haha. We're trying to figure out ways to get the members more involved.

I spoke in Church yesterday. In Spanish.
Like, a real talk. In Spanish. About the obra de salvacion. In Spanish.

I made it through pretty well I think until the end when I could for the life of me remember how to say "I say these things" to say amen and then I got really flushed and David Torres started laughing at me so up until that point I think it went pretty well.

Yeah. I don't really know what else to say so I'll start sending the pictures and add bits and pieces if I remember something to say
Love you all!

This is from three weeks ago, me and the only Ecuatorian taller than me, Irwin Ordoñez

THe noche de hogar from a few weeks ago. I love all of them!

One of my favorite pictures. There are I believe 5 very funny things happening here. See if you can spot them all.
Friendly reminder that no one reads English too well here.... :)

The conferencia por la Navidad. This is all the hermanas in five zones with Hermana Amaya. Hermana Chil (Mi querida compañera!) suggested this pose and surprisingly (to me at least) Hermana Amaya was all for it haha.

My zone with Presidente y Hermana Amaya.
Hermana Chil asked if we could do a funny picture, and the asistentes told her that they´ve never seen Presidente agree to a funny picture. He didn´t do anything funny, but still it was surprising. Milagro is famous for it´s pineapples, which is why me and Elder Maddock are making pineapple signs with our hands. It´s a little something I invented that has spread like wildfire with the youth in my ward. They all know how to say pineapple jaja.
Elder Lizana just says I am pineapple whenever we´re speaking in English and he doesn´t understand anything. It´s swell.
The time is far spent. Love you all!

Monday, December 9, 2013

#7 Letter from Ecuador

Oh my goodness I love my companion! I was so excited to email and say that things are going just swell companion-wise. She is so fun and bubbly and we are already basically best friends. I was worried that my Spanish would suffer because there`s such a strong temptation to speak English, but I`ve found that it`s easier to speak Spanish with others and not be afraid to make mistakes in front of a good friend.

This Wednesday will be my three month mark since I reported to the CCM. Whaaaaa¿? I feel like it`s been two days.... Time is funny.

Here`s more great news, my zone going to the temple Wednesday! We`re also spending the night in the temple apartments which means I get one night with a warm shower! 

I think a Cambio was exactly what I needed, and Hermana Chil is exactly what I needed. When Hermana Diez left, I was freaking out because I still didn`t know my sector very well and I was pretty sure I was just going to fall apart. Buuuut I didn`t! I had to really step up and now I know how to get places and I talk to taxis and I haven`t even had one try to rip me off too bad yet! I also had to be the one to talk to the members and remember names and introduce my new companion and now I feel even more at home here. I`m really glad I`ll be in Milagro for Christmas! 

We have had some issues that have slowed things down in our ward. Every once in a while, the members or the youth will have references, and without fail, they live in the elder`s sector of the ward. Basically, right now, we don`t have anyone progressing.¨

We received permission from the parents to baptize Jairo and Allan, but we`re not sure if it`s the right thing to do, because their family refuses to listen to a word from us, and we`re not sure it`s a good idea to baptize these kids.... I mean, if they have a real testimony, then it would be fine, but we`re worried that they`re only attending church and all these other things because they like the activities and they like my hair, and those aren't good enough reasons to make a sacred covenant... so we`ll see. I`m trying to not let my monthly goals motivate me to push someone towards something they`re not ready for.

Did I tell you about Digna? I think I did, but anyway she didn`t attend church and her husband won`t let us talk to her more than twice a week... He`s a little bizarre.... He`s super catholic but he likes reading the Book of Mormon and we`re just not really sure what to make of him haha.
Since we don`t have many investigators, we have had to resort to contacting (which any missionary I`m sure agrees is the absolute worst thing ever). It`s not great because you can talk to a contact for half an hour and they`ll say thanks for the conversation, it`s all interesting and I like that you talk about Jesus, but please don`t come back again. Ehhh what can you do? So one day we were out contacting, and I swear everyone on that street was ticked off about something. We were getting ready to call it quits and head somewhere else, when Hermana Chil looked up and saw a guy on the second floor of a house just looking out the window. So we called up to him and started talking to him. He couldn`t leave his house right then because he shattered his leg in a motorcycling accident and he was hooked to an IV thingy, and we couldn`t go up because he was home alone, but we fixed an appointment to meet up with him and we would bring a member with us. We went and he told us that he had been in the hospital for a long time, and that he vowed to change his life for the better. We`re excited to see where that will lead
We need more people to teach! Contacting just doesn`t work! Right now, we`re really focusing on rescuing. We are looking for the home of the less active families and teaching them, as well as recent converts. Elder Mestre said in the training meeting that the more we rescue, the more we will baptize. We`re putting that promise to the test! We were able to finally meet with one family that before always refused to meet with me and Hermana Diez. We were just walking in the street when we saw their grandson, who always likes to call out and say hi to us. I just felt like we should ask if his parents were home, and they were, so we went, and through some miracle they agreed to sit and chat with us. Me and Hermana Diez always tried to talk to them, and they always had their kids tell us that they weren`t home. Miracle I tell you!  We`ve met with them twice, and we`re not really sure why, but they are just not ready to come to church (well, at least that`s what they feel. We know they`re ready). But we stopped by after church and met with them again, and part of their family came to the Christmas devotional last night! Also, we invite everyone to church and we invited tons of taxi drivers etc. to the Christmas devotional, and one of these contacts actually came! We don`t know how he felt about it yet, because we had to skeedaddle because the devotional ended an hour after we usually are supposed to be at home. But we`re going to try and meet with him too and see how he liked it and hopefully teach him more.

I don`t have too much to say right now, but I have pictures that I wanted to send last week and one or two for this week, so yeah, I`ll send those. I love you all!

Wait hold up I got the most bomb package from the Notoez! I was so excited! If there`s food in the packages, we can open it during the district meeting, so my ZL opened it up and took out the candy for me, and I shared with everyone and it was great. Also, I loved the knee-highs. It`s nice to have knee highs that are actually knee high haha. So please tell them thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU! Muchìsimas gracias. I will try to send them a letter, but I don`know when I`ll be able to, because as of right now I do now know where the correo de ecuador is.....

Yeah I love you all, thanks for the prayers and the emails!
Hermana Rust

Apparently I picked the one computer in this cyber that doesn`t have a USB port...
Guess you`ll get three weeks worth of pictures next week...
Ergh. ´

Monday, December 2, 2013

#6 Letter from Ecuador

Transfers came. Last night I went to bed relieved because they call Sunday nights to inform us of transfers. Unfortunately, I woke up this morning to a call from my Zone Leader. He asked how things were going with my companionship, and I told him they were great and that I love my companion, and then he asked if I would still love her even if she left... I just groaned and got really not happy.
So we had an hour and ten minutes to pack her stuff up and go to the bus terminal this morning. I am so sad, and boy am I nervous! My new companion is Hermana Chil. She`s from Florida if I remember correctly. But Hermana Chil is really happy and I can tell that I can learn a lot from her. Anyhoo... I`m nervous because I still don`t know my way around this sector!

Elder Remington, one of the APs, told us to take the Ruta Milagreña back to Milagro, and so we did. Well this bus doesn`t stop at the bus terminal like Expreso Milagro does, and while we were on the bus I had no idea where we were. After a ridiculously long time on the bus, we asked where  we were and when we found out we were a long ways from where we needed to be. I felt so bad because poor Hermana Chil hadn`t eaten all day and oh boy I felt so dumb! A man on the bus really helped us out and after 3 hours, we succesfully completed what should have been a 1 hour trip. Also, I couldn`t find the right cyber to email in, so right now we are in the dumpiest cyber with the slowest internet ever. Also the keyboard sticks so I might not write too much today.

This week was good though! Last monday, we had a fantastic FHE, and the elders were able to get some great new investigators, but this week the jovenes didn`t have anyone for us. I think I already told you about the kids, Jairo y Allan y Humberto y Vicente? Yeah well anyways they love talking to me and I love talking to them. They love trying to say "Rust." Jairo especially likes to be taught, and he enthusiastically participates in our lessons. We have permission for Jairo and Allan to be taught, but we haven`t talked to Humberto and Vicente`s parents yet, but they love going to the youth activities. Every Tuesday they play basketball and soccer at the church and on Thursdays they meet up at the Pasmiños house to ride bikes. The Pasmiño`s house is the happening place, there`s always youth gathering there. On Sundays, Alex Pasmiño takes his truck around and honks outside the youth`s houses whose parents either aren`t members or aren`t active and dozens of kids and teenages pile into the back of his truck to go to church, and then he goes back and picks up his own family. I absolutely love how dedicated these youth are, even though they don`t have examples in their own homes to follow.

This sunday was testimony meeting, and you best believe that the youth took the majority of the time giving real testimonies, not just relating stories or giving shoutouts to their friends. It was swell.

I completely forgot about Saturday! Saturday, Milena was baptized, and her recent convert brother, Ronaldo (my second baptism I believe) baptized her. Steven referred Ronaldo, her brother, who referred Milena, who invited some of her nonmember friends to her baptism, who are not being taught by the elders. All of the references lately live in the elders` sector....  I`m trying to attach pictures but this dumpy little computer isn`t working with my camera! Also it`s making a beeping sound and I`m not sure what`s going on... I had a lot of pictures to send this week too darn it! Anyway....

Yeah I`m going to need lots of prayers this week .I`m expected to introduce her to our investigators and get her caught up to speed so we can start working, and I`m not entirely sure how to do that but I know it can be done!

Yesterday, Emelec played in the championship and won. The streets were a mess. Tons of drunks. The second the game was over everyone left into the streets to form a caravan with the team flags and horns blaring and all sorts of noise, and then everyone got drunk, so that happened.  Honestly this week was a blur and I`m trying to remember things.

Hello I`ve almost been gone three months. Whaaaa? The spanish is off and on, one day I`ll understand almost everything, the next day I won`t understand a thing. I`m not sure why this happens, but oh well, it is what it is.

They have been celebrating Christmas here almost since I got here. It feels so weird to see a Christmas tree or blinking Christmas lights when it`s swelteringly hot outside. It doesn`t feel one bit like December. I completely forgot about Thanksgiving, and in our companion prayer, Hermana Diez remembered the it was the Dìa de Accion de Gracias, and she felt so bad that she didn`t do anything for me for Thanksgiving, because I was probably so homesick and so sad that I was missing Thanksgiving and so on and so forth. I told her I didn`t feel like I was missing anything because it feels like July still. She made me pancakes the next day anyway so I could have some American food for my American holiday :) I thought of Grandpa Skousen that night though and our past Thanksgivings with him. I love that picture of him and Grandma and N&E outside of the temple, I keep it on my desk.

I seriously refuse to believe that it is December.

Mommy, I hope you have a great birthday this week. I love you very much and I hope you think of me every so often haha. I sing loud and proud in all meetings (they don`t call on me to lead, but I do anyway with my voice from my pew...) and I think of you. My zone has to prepare a performance (not a musical number, an entire performance - songs, actions, storyline etc.) for Christmas and I`m trying to figure out how to put myself in charge.... I love you!

The time is far spent.
I love you all, thanks for the prayers!
Hermana Rust

Monday, November 25, 2013

#5 Letter From Ecuador

I wouldn´t have even known that Thanksgiving was coming up if a member hadn´t asked me about it yesterday. It doesn´t feel like November (almost December whaaa?) so I completely forgot!

Luis is baptized! The little stinker didn´t make it easy either, but he has been baptized and confirmed and he´s excited to read the Pearl of Great Price of all things. I´m telling you, this kid is brilliant. The best way I can describe him is as an older Gary Bolton. He´s amazingly smart, which is dangerous because he´s also incredibly mischievous. But the Young Men´s president was telling us that in Young Men´s, he knew the answers to all the questions and he was absolutely blown away by what he knew. I don´t remember if I mentioned this, but this kid had 5 baptismal interviews. Five, because he always thought of some reason or something that made him wait to be baptized. So he knows a ton, and when we explained the PGP and Doctrine and Covenants, he asked us when he could read them. So yeah. He´s an interesting fellow. I´ll send a picture of us at the baptism.

Remember Ronaldo? Remember Milena, his sister? She´s attended church every week since we met her and is stoked for her baptism this saturday! I´m stoked too, because she will be my first, in that every lesson has been with me. With all the others, other missionaries taught, and with Luis, we only went over certain points again, not all the lessons, because he had already learned everything. She´s really sweet, and her brother is going to baptize her, which is really cool. Steven referred and baptized Ronaldo, and Ronaldo referred and will baptize Milena. If we could get the adults as excited about the work of salvation as the youth!

Yesterday we had a training with all the members of the ward counsel. It was a broadcast training for the entire area, given by the area seventy. It was so good, and was all about the work of salvation. My favorite part was when they said that the Obra of Salvation isn´t a new program of the church, it´s the reason for the church. It was much more eloquent in Spanish, but you get the gist. Holly and Beebz! Share the gospel!! It´s important!! Do it before the mission, because if you don´t, you´ll definitely wish you did once you see how essential the cooperation and support of the members is.

Let´s see.... we went out with the ward mission leader to visit less active families, and Victor mistook one house for another and we ended up talking for a hour with a woman who had gone to three different churches looking for truth. Jackpot! She talked to us about how she felt uneasy about lots of teachings in the Jehovah´s witnesses, and she just thought the Evangelical chuirch was bizarre. She asked us about the Holy Ghost, how we feel the Holy Ghost etc. She´s an older woman with lots of family, so we hope to be able to teach all of them together. 

Johana Pasmiño also invited us to teach some of her neighbors in her home. The parents don´t want to hear (as is always the case) but they are fine with their kids learning and taking the discussions. We´ve only met two of them so far, one is Luis (many Luises...) and he´s 11, and Jairo who is 14 (side note, Jairo is just about the cutest thing I have ever seen.). They´re both really smart and while we´ve only had a mini lesson with them, they understand things really well and they liked the idea of being baptized the same way Jesus was baptized. How many young kids would think that?

 So that´s what´s going on! We have another FHE (we´re changing the name and day of the week because FHE is for families on mondays) tonight in the Torres´ home, and these are always great. 
Wednesday, we had a seventy, Elder Alexander Mestre come! We traveled to Babahoya and it was swell. He called on me to read a scripture out loud to everyone. I was scared to death. Also, his accent was difficult to understand and his tres sounded exactly like trece, so I had to clarify like 4 times which verse I should read. So that happened. But I learned a lot and it was great.

At the end, when I went to kiss Hermana Amaya goodbye, she told me that my face was hot and then gave very detailed instructions on what we need to do if we take my temperature at home and it is higher than a certain degree. It was. I had me a pretty swell fever. I used the converter on our cell phone to change the Celcius to Farenheit and apparently I was at 102.4. I´m not sure how bad that is but people seemed pretty worried. I felt fine, just my face was hot, but that´s nothing new, but anywho I bring this up because A) Hermana and Presidente Amaya care about us missionaries so much. B) My zone leaders care about me so much. C) My district leader cares about me so much. D) My companion cares for me so much. Everyone was making sure, more than was necessary as far as rules go, that I was okay, that I was doing the things I needed to, that I would go to the doctor if needs be (I fought my companion on this one, there was absolutely no way I was going to go back to that miserable little hospital for a fever). I did not need to go to the doctor, I was absolutely fine the next day, 

Anyway, things are swell, the church is true, I love you all, and please please please, help the missionaries out!
Hermana Rust

This is a picture of Luis. He was begging me to take a picture with him, so I don´t know why he wouldn´t smile. Trust me, he was happy. 

Luis´s Grandma, his uncle who baptized him, Leonardo, and Luis.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

# 4 Letter from Ecuador

I can hardly believe it´s P-Day again. The days are long but the weeks go by so fast! I know it´s what everyone says, but things are very "rollercoaster" on the mission. One day will be amazing, the next day will be ... nothing.

Last Monday, me and my companion took on the task of finding me some black shoes, because the black shoes I brought are truly hideous. Here's the thing though - Ecuadorians have small feet. I think the largest shoes we found were an American size 8, which as you know is not nearly big enough. We went to store after store and all of the store owners tried to force my feet into size 8 shoes. Hermana Diez is convinced that we will find some shoes, but I have given up hope.  My Spanish that day was really good though, I was able to converse a bit and I explained many times that I do not dye my hair (I´ve gotten really good at deciphering this question).
The next day was district meeting and verification. These meetings are both the best and the worst. Verification is when we meet with one of the zone leaders and go over how my training is going in the 12 Semanas program. I´m supposed to initiate lessons and contacts and many things and uapsodfiuasdlkfjsdañlkfj I feel like it´s too much! It´s the same goals for people learning a language and fluent speakers. So  I have to do practices with the zone leaders (who are awesome, but it´s very intimidating) and I have to explain in my pitiful Spanish how things are going and I greatly dislike it. Also, we have lots of practices when we meet as a district, and because my companion is a machete of a missionary, our companionship has been picked every week to be the example companionship and give a lesson in front of the rest of the district. Let me remind you that the Spanish still isn´t here yet, and everyone else in my district speaks perfect Spanish. Also, when they give the directions and explain the practices, I don´t completely understand. So district meetings are the best because I learn a lot, and it´s fun to meet up with the other missionaries, and they´re the worst because I usually make a fool of myself in front of everyone, multiple times. 

After our meeting ended, the Zone leaders asked to meet with us and lo and behold Hermana Diez is the new sister trainer for the area! Told you, she´s a machete of a missionary. 
This means that we traveled to Guayaquil for the big meeting with our district leaders and zone leaders. We were going to put me on splits with someone or do something so I wouldn´t have to go, but it didn´t work out so I went, and I saw Hermana Seaver! I don´t think you know Hermana Seaver, but we hung out a lot at BYUI and it was grand. 

The meeting was difficult, because Presidente and Hermana Amaya speak Colombian Spanish which is different Spanish than the Ecuadorians and different Spanish than my companion. I´m trying to learn four types of Spanish right now (the fourth being gringo Spanish)! I picked up bits and pieces of what was going on, but for the most part I was just trying to stay awake. Sometimes Spanish is white noise to me, and boy do I get tired! Also, we did practices (we all know how I feel about practices) and Presidente Amaya lingered closer to our practice than I would have liked.  But it was a good meeting, and Hermana Amaya is a powerhouse of a woman. We were in Guayaquil all day, so we didn´t teach any lessons or contact that day. The hermanas have to be in their apartments at 8:30 because it´s dangerous, so yeah. We went straight home. 

That´s been something that has hindered the work. We can´t be out late, but that´s when all the people are out and about! Lots of them sleep all afternoon, and it´s almost impossible to do anything in the afternoons, especially when it´s more hot than usual. Also, knocking on doors doesn´t help, we really rely on member references. They haven´t been giving us much, so we´re going to work on reactivation and receiving references that way.

Let´s see... The day after the meeting was one of the good days. I swear, some days my Spanish is pretty good and the next day I don´t understand a thing. This was one of the days when I felt pretty good about my Spanish. We spent the day with a lot of youth. Luis! I need to tell you about Luis! Luis is 12 years old, and an incredibly deep thinker (not even just an incredibly deep thinker for a 12 year old, I mean this kid blows my mind!). His mom is a recent convert, but he never wanted to be baptized and he went to church occasionally begrudgingly.  Hermana Diez told me that he would run away and be really unfriendly whenever they talked to him, but we stopped by one day and asked if he was ready to learn more and he said yes. From what I understand, the mom of his friends talks to him about the Catholic church all day and another about Evangelicos, so he came to us with tons of questions like why does our church baptize by immersion and others by sprinkling, and how exactly do prophets receive revelation and what does it mean when we say we´re the only true church and how does the priesthood work and what is the Holy Ghost and tons of questions like this. He´s 12. But he´s ready to listen! He´s already heard most of the lessons so we just have to do overviews and answer his questions, and he had his baptismal interview and his baptism is this Saturday! He was very preoccupied about repentance, and so he requested a non-white Elder for his interview so he could talk freely, and our zone leader Elder Suarez is awesome and helped answer tons of his questions, especially about the priesthood, and he helped animate him for his baptism (I know the word isn´t animate, but I can´t for the life of me think of the word in English. I can´t speak Spanish, can´t speak English...). So yeah, that´s Luis. He found a picture book in English and he wants to give it to me because he doesn´t like English. He taught me all the jungle animals in Spanish. The kid´s got an attitude, but he´s sweet too. 

The next day was Zone meeting, where the zone and district leaders and the Hermana leader teach what happened in the big meeting with the President and yeah. I left this out before, but Hermana Amaya started out her section of the training by saying "Elderes y Hermanas, English is not an option. If you do not speak English, you will learn. In the next meeting, we will call on you to say the prayers, and they will be in English." (All of that was in Spanish by the way...) So to start out the meeting, Elder Suarez asked me to pray in  English, and then explained after the prayer that all prayers will be in English from now on. Anywho, I bring this up for two reasons. First, this prayer was hard. Since day one of the CCM, all of my prayers have been in Spanish. Personal, food, companionship, and all other prayers since then have been in Spanish. I could not remember how to use thee and thy and thou and I kept accidentally saying "y" instead of "and" and my grammer wasn´t wrong, but my sentences just sounded weird. I´m glad only one other person in the room probably realized how off things were. It was weird! The second reason I bring this up is because now I am teaching Hermana Diez English. She hates it haha and she gets so flustered because she doesn´t understand how to make the sounds. My favorite thing is to make her say frog, because she can´t do it. I´ve taught everyone this word, and I haven´t met a single Latino yet that can make the "guh" sound. It´s so fun to learn the languages together. I also taught a bunch of the youth to say "what up, how it do?" so this is usually their greeting to me. Here´s a fun fact worth noting, Hermana Diez told me that I´m the first gringo/a that can pronounce the r sound perfectly. Not the rr (even though plenty have trouble with this sound too), but only I can pronounce just the r right. Apparently when they listen to English speakers, what stand out is the hard r sound. I get complimented on my pronunciation a lot, so yeah, I got that going for me!
We had an investigator named Belgica this week too. Her son is a convert that is recently reactivated. She´s had all the discussions and even a baptismal interview, but didn´t get baptized. We´re working with her, but it is difficult because she lives in an especially dangerous part of town. It´s dangerous to go there even before the sun sets. Her son was robbed just two days ago and it wasn´t even completely dark yet. She also works until early in the morning, and we can only meet with her in the mid to late afternoon. We have to keep visits short, and if we don´t have a guy with us, we can´t go. David (Knows Coop, was David Archuleta´s zone leader) helps us out a lot and is an amazing missionary, and Steven (recent convert, baptized Ronaldo, is dating Emily) accompanies us on a lot of appointments too. Steven wants to serve a mission! He´s been thinking about it a lot and had a dream that he opened his call to New York. He´s only 17, so he´s got a little bit of time, but I´m so excited for him because he loves the gospel so much and he´s already doing a ton of missionary work with us. So things are slow with Belgica, the woman´s got a lot of things on her plate. 
Ronaldo also told us that he wanted us to come teach his little sister, Milena. We met her, and she came to church, and we set a baptism date!

She´s also going to come to FHE tonight (which is being held at a part-member home). Mondays are the best, I love our FHEs! Last week we played some bizarre game after and I was very confused and everyone was laughing but it was fun. Good times.
I´m rocking a fairly sweet tan already and my bangs are bleached white.
At lunch yesterday at the Torres´s house (David´s family), a granddaughter/niece was talking to me about how I look like a doll and was touching all the parts of my hair saying "this is yellow, this is brown, this is yellow, like a doll" and I have blue doll eyes. It was so cute, and after a sister or cousin or aunt or someone (there´s so many people in the house at once, I never know the relationship) went through my hair for a few seconds doing the same thing, and she´s an adult. My hair is also often put up to other people´s faces to see how they would look blonde.
My personal bubble is disappearing fast.

I love it here, I love the work, I love the people, I love the food!
The church is true, be good, I love you all, help the missionaries!
Hermana Rust  

Juice is so cheap here, and this entire gigantic aisle is dedicated to juice. I thought it was worth noting. This is in a big mall that has a grocery store in it....

Monday, November 11, 2013

Letter #3 from Ecuador

 Also, because I forgot in the last email, my branch president was President Jewell! We talked about Logandale and I have a picture with him and his wife. They´re awesome!

I forgot my notebook full of things to write about... This is gonna be difficult.
Monday was the family night, and it was so great! Once again, we have 20 or so youth crammed into a house, and there was a lesson, and then Celita announced that she was going to ask five people to bear their testimonies, because it was getting late. So she asked five people, and they bore their testimonies. But it didn´t end there. Everyone ended up bearing their testimonies, just like the week before. Mondays are my favorite, because it´s P Day, and because I get to clean and do laundry, and because the Noches de Hogar with the youth are so great. There´s always a few nonmembers. Glorita´s father gave the opening prayer, with her help, so we´re hoping that with each spiritual experience, his heart is softened and they will want to learn more.

I still can´t understand too much, but I have been able to see my progress. Sometimes, Hermana Diez will ask me to give the opening prayer, and because I can pray in Spanish, they think that I can understand Spanish. So whenever I pray, I usually get asked a question directly after that I cannot understand. My favorite and most used phrase is "Repita por favor, más despacio". If I still can´t understand, Hermana Diez dumbs down the Spanish into more basic words and if I still don´t understand I just smile and we move on. I do talk in lessons though, I have taught big portions of the Restoration and I always bear my testimony. I think that sometimes the things I say have nothing to do with the lesson, but Hermana Diez told me that the "norteamericanas" that can´t understand Spanish always say what the investigator needs to hear, because they have to completely rely on the Spirit to communicate and know what to say. So that was nice haha.

 As for my health, I am just fine. It´s pretty common for the Americans to have some issues with breathing here, because there is so much dust in the air. It´s kinda funny, I´ll look at my hands and think they´re clean, but then I wash them, and the water that comes off of them is gray. There´s just tons of dust, but it´s perfectly acceptable to spit in the street, so I do what I gotta do and now I´m just fine. Every once in a while, the Pasmiños make me have a terapia treatment, but I think they only want me to do the treatment partially for my health, and partially because they have plenty of opportunities to tease me.
That reminds me, I made my first funny comment in Spanish this week! I missed making people laugh, and it was nice to have people laugh at something other than my confusion haha. It wasn´t really that great, they just asked me if I knew how to shuffle and play poker, and I said I didn´t, and they said "but you´re from Las Vegas!" and I said, "I´m mormon! I didn´t go to the casinos, I went to the temple!" Of course all of this in Spanish. They got a kick out of that. 

Saturday, we had a missionary activity, that I was really excited for. Every family was to bring their best dish for everyone else to try. Also, we went around making sure that people invited their non member friends. We then visited these non-members, and invited them again, and again, and again. We have a family we´re teaching again. I say again, because they´ve had all the lessons, and they´ve been attending church for 7 months. They just won´t get married so they won´t get baptized. No one here is married. Anyhoooo, this family brought their nonmember friends, and that´s it. No one else. We talked to the nonmembers that they´ve brought and they said yeah, they like the church, and the activity, but they´re Catholic. So it was a fun activity, but not successful. 

But you would be very surprised if you saw me at this activity. You know I don´t like germs. Well, Heavenly Father has helped me to get over this reeeaal quick. For instance, at the activity, everyone got a spoon and a tiny plate. No one really used the plates, it just went from platter, to spoon, to mouth. And I did the same thing. Who woulda thunk. And it was gooood food too! I made pancakes... I didn´t have time nor ingredients for anything else. 

We have been trying to stay busy this week. It´s been hard, because appointments are dropped and contacts don´t help. Without references, we don´t really have opportunities to teach. We´ve been trying to get references from the members, and we´ve gotten a lot of help from the youth in the past, but we really need to teach families. No such luck. Hermana Diez was telling me that converts are very likely to go inactive if they don´t have friends in the church, and people that we contact don´t want to listen. Members are so essential to missionary work!! I cannot stress this enough. 

We are teaching the older sister of Luis, the first baptism. She has many struggles, and I don´t really understand everything, but I love her. The same with a family we met with yesterday, I knew that they were sharing some serious things, and I didn´t understand what they were saying, but I bore my testimony of Jesus Christ, and of the blessings that we receive from the gospel, and that´s all I can really do right now. But I love them! 

It´s also been difficult because lots of people have wacky sleep schedules.The city is pretty active in the morning, but I feel like everyone sleeps all afternoon and then is up all night. 75% of the street will not be in their houses or will be sleeping. What can you do.
I don´t have much time, so I better get going with some photos.
Thank you so much for the letters and photos and prayers.
All is well, the church is true, and the work is for everyone.
Love, Hermana Rust. 

This is what the president of the Relief Society brought to the activity. So good!

Baby Hamilton. He has my heart. He´s part of my beloved Pasmiño family. 

Paulina at the activity. I believe she is baptized, but we´re still working on the rest of her family. They like the church and attend from time to time, but aren´t members. Her brother is the only Ecuatoriano taller than me. He´s like 15. We were supposed to take a picture together at the activity but we forgot. Her mom promised to make me cuy to try haha. 

Johanna Pasmiño, momma to Hamilton. She is so sweet, she was getting ready for a wedding (the reception started at 930pm and went for a few hours! Whaaaa?)

Hermano Reyes. He likes to make fun of me and he tries to twist my words to make it sound like I think his wife is a bad cook. He made sure that I took a good photo of him, so I think he would want me to share this. He speaks so fast, and drops his S´s and slurs everything together. I don´t understand a word he says. 

Hermano Celso. He´s accompanied us in a few lessons, and he owns a restaurant and the missionaries eat there, free, once a week.He´s a sweet man! He also made the best hamburger I think I´ve ever had. I also had some darn amazing Peruvian french fries today....

Hermana Reyes, who has been attending for months, but won´t get married. She is an amazing cook, and they love to feed us. (Usually late at night, with plenty of Coca Cola. It´s a miracle I sleep. I truly mean that, it´s a miracle. Everyone gives us Coke or some other soda to drink, and they eat dinner at 8 sometimes.I think the caffeine is also the source of some of my stomach woes!)  

My district with Presidente y Hermana Jewell in the CCM. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

#2 Letter From Ecuador

I don´t want you guys to worry, but I think you should know that I haven´t plucked my eyebrows in a while. They are in desperate need of care, but alas, there is much else to be done. This week was full of highs and lows.
Monday after I wrote last week, we had a family night with the Familia Pasmiño. I don´t remember if I told you guys about them yet, but I love this family! Anywho, in this ward there are tons of youth that have been baptized, but whose families aren´t members. So this family home evening was open to all these kids. There were about twenty kids there. One of the main purposes of this fhe though was inviting the parents of Celita y Glorita, (Glorita who was baptized last week). The parents came, and it was such a great night! We had a short lesson and what not, and then every single one of the jovenes there bore their testimony. They weren´t your run of the mill testimonies either, almost every one of them (as far as I understood) shared how they came to know the gospel was true, and how their lives have improved with the gospel etc.. We talked to Glorita´s father afterwards, and he said he liked how it felt in their home. Afterwards, I was surrounded by all the youth and everyone tried to teach me new words and get me to teach them English and most of the time everyone was just laughing. I got lots of "pobrecita" said to me so I think it´s safe to assume that there was a fair amount of teasing going on as well. I love it though, I am happiest and learning most when talking to the youth.
The next day was one of the lows. I couldn´t sleep, and had chills and pain and I was just not great the next morning. I was also coughing up a storm. So we went to the clinic and lo and behold I got me some bronquitis. You might think that translates to bronchitis, but I´m pretty sure it actually just means white-girl-with-a-cold. We discussed our options and either I would get medications that I would have to take for a couple weeks and return back every day to the clinic, or I could stay for a day or two on an IV. Apparently, IV´s aren´t a big deal here, it´s just a different way to take medicine. So don´t be worried, it really wasn´t a serious thing. I did have blood drawn, and I had an IV in my arm for 3 days and I didn´t pass out once! Woo! I´m really really proud of that. So I loafed around in the hospital for 3 days, and now I´ve just got some medicine I take twice a day. I also am supposed to be doing some respirator type therapy junk at the clinic every so often, but my beloved Pasmiño family is a family of nurses, so I just do what I gotta do at their house. I love them, they really do take good care of me. 
Everyone takes really good care of me in fact. Everyone is very willing to share their remedies. Just yesterday, Steven and Hermano Pasmiño came up to me with what looked like chapstick. I figured it wasn´t chapstick though when they tried to shove it up my nose. It was actually a little vaporub type inhaler, which I´m sure had been in many a nose before mine, but it works really good and I love that little thing!
As you can see, the mission has already changed me. Some other things that have changed... well... I always have someone´s hands in my hair or on my face. Always. Usually my companion´s hands, but investigators and members take their turns too. Also, every female above the age of 12 or so is greeted with one of those European type cheek air kisses. You guys know how much I like my bubble, but personal bubbles cannot exist in Ecuador. Sometimes we have to remind some of the younger guys that missionaries don´t do the cheek kiss thing. It really is an honest mistake on their part though, because that´s just what they do. It´s so sweet to see the young men kissing the old ladies when they walk into sacrament meeting.
Chicks here don´t chirp or peep, they "pew." Hmm...  what else. My feet are hideous now. I don´t even know what happened, but my feet look like Daniel´s now. We´re not allowed to ever be barefoot, so I´m not exactly sure what happened but my feet are gonna need some TLC after 17 more months of this. Speaking of Daniel.... I´m constantly reminded of him because all the men out here sit outside their houses with their shirts hiked up and their bellies out! They just chill there, talking with their friends, bellies proudly displayed. I couldn´t stop laughing the first time I saw it, but I´ve seen it many times since them. A few days ago, we walked past a guy sleeping on the sidewalk in front of a little store. I´m not sure if he was sleeping or passed out, but it didn´t even phase my companion. The guy´s head was dangerously close to a pile of dog ..offerings. What a weird place. Also, apparently it isn´t a big deal if the ladies don´t shave their legs, so Ecuador is more advanced than the US in this aspect.
It must be some sort of big dishonor if you don´t graffiti a wall for your loved one´s birthday, because there´s birthday graffiti everywhere. Speaking of birthdays, Happy Birthday Holly! I forget that it´s November seeing as it feels like July, but one of our investigator´s birthday is the same day as Holly´s. Hope your day is swell!
Friday we had another baptism, a young man named Ronaldo. He was so excited. The baptism was completely run by and attended by youth. They gave all the talks, prayers, lead the music, and Steven, a young man who is a recent convert who shoved that thing up my nose, baptized him. I have some pictures from that night, I really love the youth!
Food. So much rice. I am a fat lard already. I usually only eat lunch every day, but it´s huge! And it always starts with soup. It´s really tasty though, they have the best seasonings on the meat. This coming Saturday, we´re having a potluck, and I´m so excited to try more things. So far, I love me most some fried bananas. I also had some sort of rice with some sort of yellow oil with seasonings and bell peppers and onion that was delicious. There hasn´t been anything yet that I haven´t eaten with the utmost enthusiasm, and you can tell Derrick that my stomach has been just fine as well.
Yesterday there was a soccer game between two Ecuadorian teams, Barcelona and Emecer. The entire town shut down.  I´m serious, there weren´t taxis in the streets or anything. Some people put their TV´s outside and attatched speakers and blasted the game, so we ended up at the Pasmiños house again. All the jovenes were gathered there to watch the game. The Pasmiños are such good people! After the game, they fed everybody and brought out a cake and everything. I was instructed multiple times to tell everyone that I am an Emecer fan, and not to forget it.
Everyone wants to listen to me speak English. Every once in a while, I speak English with one of the Elders, and they all try to listen and understand. I bring this up because they are trying to get me to sing in English. I refused yesterday, but we made a deal. Tonight, if they bring the missionaries references, I will sing a hymn in English for them.
Oh yeah, tonight! Glorita and Celita are having a noche de hogar at their house, and they´ve invited everyone. Their parents (who aren´t members, remember) have invited everyone because they said they liked what happened. So we´re having a ndh in their home and we have some investigators coming and I´m just really excited, because Gloria and Celia´s parents are starting to show interest. We really want to teach their entire family together, and Gloria and Celia are already teaching them and sharing their testimonies with their parents. The youth are so great! They come with us to lessons and they get their friends and try to involve their families. We set a baptismal date for Luis Guachiculca´s older sister. Luis Guachichulca was the ym baptized the same day as Glorita. My challenge for the little girls is to offer to go with the sister missionaries to some appointments! I believe so strongly in the faith and strength of the youth. After all, Joseph Smith was only 14. Get involved in the work, references from members are what keep us busy!
This week is going to be a good one, I can tell. Be good!
I love you all, thanks for all the messages and prayers!

Hermana Rust

Monday, October 28, 2013

#1 Letter from Ecuador

I don`t even know where to start. What a week! The CCM seems like months ago. Well.... Hmm...
Leaving the CCM broke my heart, as was expected. All of us Guayaquil goers lined up at 10 at night to go to the bus to the airport. I only really knew Hermana Fox, and everyone else was buddy buddy. So that freaked me out a bit. But we flew, and I was exhausted the entire time. Keep in mind, I woke up at 6 that morning, left at 10 that night, and I hardly remember what a nap is. We flew all night, and when we got to Bogota, we saw a bunch of other sisters with name tags. They all rushed up to us and did the whole cheek touch air kiss thing, which is so unfamiliar to me! They were so sweet!

We got to Guayaquil and holy mackeral humidity. I thought I knew what humidity was, but boy was I wrong. It felt like breathing marshmallow fluff. The air is so thick and wet! I doubt I will ever get used to it.
President and Sister Amaya are so great! I didn`t understand all that they said, but they are very kind and encouraging, We have to wear knee highs! It`s for the bugs, but man.... it is so hot! I have been physically uncomfortable for a week straight. I honestly have not stopped sweating since I got here. But I love it!

I was assigned to an area called Bellavista in the city of Milagro. It`s so weird, in empty lots, instead of weeds or rocks, there will be bright purple flowers growing. There are a million dogs here, as well as millions of piles of ... dog evidence. Seriously, everyone has a dog.

Hello, I haven`t even talked about my compañera! Her name is Hermana Diez, and she`s from Peru! I`m the fifth hermana she`s trained, so she`s basically a pro. She talks to me only in Spanish, unless she needs to explain something to me, which is great, because I`ve learned a lot from her. BUT. They don`t speak Spanish here. I`m not 100% sure what language they`re speaking, but it`s definitely not what I learned in the CCM. They drop their "s"s and and everything is slurred together. My most repeated phrase is "Por favor, repite, màs despacio." Sometimes that helps, but usually I have to look at Hermana Diez and she repeats it in Spanish. I can understand her pretty well, but I don`t know how in the world I will learn Ecuadorian Spanish! Whenever we eat somewhere though, they ask me to say the prayer. I can pray in Spanish, but then after I pray they assume I can understand Spanish and they ask me something and I get the deer-in-the-headlights look.

Food! Every lunch, we eat at a member or part-member home. We walk or take a taxi, and there`s nothing quite like a hot bowl of soup when you`ve been wilting in the sun. Every meal starts with a big bowl of soup. It`s so good though, so different. There`s usually potato, and then chunks of cheese and sometimes noodles. On my third day, I had the soup that Mindy made for the throwdown! It was less peanutty, and it had shrimp in it, and we ate it over rice, but it was the same basic thing! So good!
I have had a lot of people ask me if I`ve ever had rice before, and they`re always surprised to hear that yes, we do eat rice in the United States.

The people are so curious about the US, and when I tell them I`m from Vegas, their faces light up and they say "casinos, no!?" They ask if it`s pretty, if there are lots of blondes, etc. One investigator questioned me about the price of clothes. This same investigator gave us four huge, juicy pineapples for free! We butchered one up that night and wow it was the best pineapple I`ve ever had. I may send pictures of the event if I have time.

We had two baptisms on Saturday (no one I had ever taught, but I`m counting them as mine..). They were both jovenes, one named Glorita, the other Luis. Glorita`s older sister (17 or so years old) and was baptized not too long ago, and their parents just gave permission for Glorita to also be baptized. Now, we`re working on the parents! Their parents came to the baptism and to the confirmation in church the next day, and were very emotional. They seem like really good people, and Glorita and Celita are angels! When I first met them, they combed through my hair with their fingers and telling me how pretty it was. That`s another question I`ve gotten a lot of, if my hair color is natural. They are so amazed when I say yes. My hair is the first thing all the girls bring up when I meet them. Luis is so great! He is 18. His mother gave him permission to be baptized, and she came. She`s very unsettled about the church and I think she`s worried about "losing" her son. We went and visited her and offered to teach her more about what her son had learned. I`m not really sure how she`s feeling about it, and it`s hard because she runs a little store and is always busy. I led the music for the baptism. No one here plays piano! The hymns sound rough. I`m tempted to ask to play just the top hand for sacrament meetings because you hear every possible key (and some impossible keys) when we sing.

It turns out I do stand out here a bit. I have seen exactly ONE person taller than me here, and he`s fifteen. Everyone else is tiny. Because I stand out, I have gotten some unwanted attention. There are certain places that we don`t pass by because I get followed around. It`s not great, but I`ve never felt worried about my safety. Sometimes there will be men gathered in an area and they start shouting at me in English. "Disney princess, Disney princess, come talk to me!" or "White niña what is up?" Some drunk guy followed us for a bit saying "Soy mormòn, soy mormon, talk to me!" Actually, we see this guy a lot. He hangs out around the houses of the members who give us references. Whenever we`re waiting for a taxi, without fail, every face in the car is looking at me until they pass. It`s a bit unnerving. On the bus ride to Milagro, a man was sitting in front of me, and he kept looking back at me. He was very conspicuous, but I didn`t really mind until some people got off the bus and he moved seats and sat with his entire body facing back, and just stared at me. He didn`t even try to hide that he was staring directly at me, so finally I started staring back, just to make him stop. It didn`t work. I was very uncomfortable for the next 20 minutes of this bus ride. I wasn`t really sure what to do. So that was interesting.

The work! The youth here are so great. Last night, we had one kid, Manuel, who came with us to visit his friends that he had given us as references. We talk to their parents as well. Everyone is willing to listen to us, but not many are willing to keep commitments. We spent a lot of the day Saturday going around and committing people to go to church. We made plans as to what time they need to go to bed, wake up, etc. Sunday morning, we called and visited houses, woke people up... and like 3 people came. No investigators though.

Hmm what else? Oh yeah, no hot water. There`s also a naked woman on our shower door... Our apartment is pretty nice though, one of the nicest one`s I`ve been in here. No one here has a dishwasher. I haven`t seen a single one. Even the nicest homes don`t have air conditioning, but I guess everyone`s pretty used to the heat. I walk into their homes completely drenched in sweat every time, but everyone seems to not notice the heat.

Here`s a fun fact. There`s an amazing family in the ward, the Torres family. The son David is a RM, and he basically runs the ward. Seriously, he`s awesome. He served in Rancagua, Chile, and knows Hayden Cooper (and David Archuleta, I`m pretty sure...)! Also, there`s an Hermana here from Arizona that knows Haley Flenner. Being a member makes this a small world!

What else! I`m going to need specific questions, I don`t know what to say. I love it. It`s hard, and boy am I tired. Plus, I`m confused 96% of the time, but it`s all good. The worst thing is when people try to talk to me in English. Their English is harder to understand than their Spanish haha, but it`s very sweet.

Picture time!  Before you look at the pictures, let me explain something. If you had people whistling at you and little girls fawning over you when you looked like a greasy hobo, would you bother doing your hair or makeup?
Sorry to all the dozens of single attractive men that are surely reading my blog, but things are going to get ugly.

*note from mom - The pictures didn't come through.  I will post them next week if she resends them.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

# 6 Letter from CCM Mexico City

I am so sad to be leaving my beloved CCM, but I´m starting to get more and more excited to go, little by little. We watched the MTC devotional live from the Provo MTC. It was Dallin H. Oaks and man that guy is bold. Bold and bald. I loved it. It was all about why we say we are the only true and living church in the world. In case you were wondering, it´s because we have the fulness of the gospel, the power of the priesthood, and a unique and complete testimony of Christ. It was so interesting and just got me pumped!

Guess who´s the new sister leader/trainer/whatever it´s called?!
Not me! My companion is though, so I get to sit in on the zone meetings and get to know all the girls in my branch! It´s been pretty fun.

I have one final story about my choir leading experience. So, this Sunday was when we sang the musical number. On Saturday we practiced for 40 minutes, and it sounded pretty good. Then, Saturday night, we sang a closing hymn with our teachers. Hermana Martinez is studying vocal performance, so I wanted to see what she had to say. So we sang Conmigo Quedaté, Señor as the closing song without a piano. I encouraged the Elderes beforehand to sing their parts (the hermanas are doing soprano and I was the only alto so we were good). It was awful! Our teachers smiled and told us that it was good, but that´s just because they are nice. It was so bad, and I got so nervous, especially because we wouldn´t have time to practice before singing in sacrament meeting. So I went over the parts again without a piano and hoped it got stuck in their heads.

Sunday morning, we line up, and the first verse is kinda rough. The elderes weren´t hitting their parts and I thought I was going to pop a vein in my forehead, especially because we had practiced so much! But then the second verse was okay. We planned to end the last verse a cappella, and I almost wanted to motion to the pianist somehow and tell him to keep playing. The piano directly faces a wall though, so I would have looked really ridiculous. So the pianist stopped playing for the final chorus - and it was gorgeous. Seriously, it was so perfect. The wives of our branch presidency teared up, so I think that´s a good sign. They came up to us and told us how great they did, and I acted modest but secretly I loved it when everyone would say "It was all Hermana Rust!" I gotta work on that whole pride thing....  But teaching teenage boys to sing parts a cappella is no small task!

On Saturday, during coaching time, the main suggestion that Hermano Rangel gave me and Hermana Fox was to express love for our investigators, both the love that Heavenly Father has for them, and our love for the as well. I am fine saying that Heavenly Father loves you, but you know me, I feel weird saying anything remotely like that to anyone. That night (I believe it was Saturday night), Hermana Martinez and Hermano Rangel stood outside the door and Hermano Rangel hugged all the elders and shook all the sister´s hands and Hermana Martinez hugged the sisters and shook the elders hands, and they told us they loved us. It doesn´t sound like some big revolutionary thing, but I loved it, and we were all pretty giddy on our walk home. Granted, we´re always giddy on our walk home, just because it´s finally bedtime, but we had some extra pep that day.

Anyway, Hermana Martinez was teaching us Tuesday when we had a little bit of extra time. She gathered us around the computer and had us watch a video on the LDS website by Sister Madsen about expressing love to her students. Sister Madsen would stand at the door and tell each individual student that she loved them. She told us that she had never seen that video until Sunday at church, the day after she and Hermano Rangel stood at the door and told each of us they loved us.  So.... moral of this story is expressing love is important, and Hermana Martinez is awesome.

Oh yeah, I finally got called on to speak this Sunday in District meeting. We have to prepare a talk every week, and then just announce who will be speaking. So I spoke, and afterwards, the counselor came up to me and told me that my Spanish was very impressive. So that was great!
I still get down on myself from time to time when things don´t go perfectly or when I can´t express myself as well as I want to during lessons, but I´m doing so less and less. Progress! 

The temple was so wonderful! That´s really all there is to say about the temple, that it´s wonderful and peaceful, but that´s what keeps on going through my mind right now. I love it so much. There was one little latina there who looked just like Grandma Skousen, same hair and similar faces and everything, she was just a bit shorter (who would´ve thought it was possible to be shorter than Grandma Skousen?). So that made me happy too. I just got the letter of your talk from Grandpa´s funeral. I loved what you said so much! In the temple I saw a cute little man who´s tag said Sellador on the bottom (I think that´s what it said, and I think that means sealer, but I could be way off). What a great title and opportunity to have. I love the temple!

I love you all, thanks for sending me emails and letters!

P.S. If Brooke reads this, let her know I JUST got her letter and it made me happy and I´ll try to have a response sent out within the next two days.

This first picture is for Brooke... ¡Alto en fibre!

These are two of my favorite hermanas, Hermana White and Hermana Eastman who will be serving in Ventura, California. They came and visited our classroom yesterday so we had to take a picture. Also, there are rumors of moms of people I mention in emails finding my blog, so here´s a picture. I love these Hermanas so much!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

#5 Letter from Mexico City CCM

Okay, remember how I told you about how we were doing a musical number? Our branch was assigned to prepare the musical number for the weekly CCM class, taught by the CCM Presidency. It´s a decently big deal I think. Well, remember how I had to raise my voice in order to capture everyone´s attention? Two practices later, things were still not going great, but it was starting to come together. We were singing the EFY medley in Spanish, and the parts where we combine were really rough. People were starting and ending at the wrong spots and it was scary, but the Hermana in charge didn´t want to lead the music for the actual number because she didn´t feel comfortable. She announced this and then we sung one more time, without a leader. It was... awful. ´This was on Saturday evening, and we were performing Sunday morning. So after the practice.... I went up to her and told her that I would love to lead the music. I was worried that she would think that I was taking over her duties and that I was being rude, but she was so thankful! We had about half an hour to practice Sunday morning before we had to sing the song. All night before, I practiced cutting off the hermanas with my left hand while bringing in the elders with my right hand and counting out the beats so we could cut off at the same time and the practice went so much better than any other had before (I think it was mostly because I was not afraid to look silly leading or tell them when they did something wrong). I acted just like Mom when I lead! I did the same hand motions when I needed them to be louder or softer and everything. I think you would have loved to have been there seeing me do my thang.
Well, apparently if you lead the musical number it is just assumed that you lead the opening hymn as well, which was in 6/8. We sang As I Have Loved You in Spanish. In English, that song has one word per measure, but in Spanish, they cram 5 or 6 words into the same measure. It went terribly haha. I wasn´t sure what word we were on and no one had the actual music in front of them, they only had the words projected on the screen. It was terrible and I´m 98% sure Presidente Pratt was laughing at me, but it´s all good. I´ve needed to learn to do something I´m not great at and to fail at it miserably and get over it.  One prayer later, it was time for our musical number.

When we actually sang for the class, I lead with all my heart. When I needed it strong, I lead with both arms waving and at one point I dropped my music (we don´t have music stands) and I bent down to grab it with one hand while leading with the other. It sounded so good! The cut offs were great and the Elders came in at the right times and I loved it so much! I had people come up to me and tell me I did great and that it sounded good, and I had some people ask where I learned to lead music like that. I told them I had no idea what I was actually doing, and that I just love music and I´ve watched many great choristers, my mama included. It was so fun, and you know I love being in charge.

My district is also in charge of the musical number in sacrament meeting this week. Guess who they´ve elected to put in charge? We´re singing Abide with Me Tis Eventide in Spanish. At the beginning of our first practice, we had one elder that could sing parts. Now we have seven! I´ve only taught them tenor and bass parts for the chorus, but I am incredibly proud of myself, because it was not an easy task. So these were my music experiences this week, I loved them!

I´m not really sure what else to say. There´s been a lot of time spent in the classroom. I´m so glad I took Spanish before, because even my little knowledge from before has helped me so much. It turns out though that I´m a bit of a perfectionist. I don´t like to try to say things when I´m not 100% sure I´m correct. Because of my silly little fear, I have started talking less and less in lessons. My teacher Hermano Sanchez gets so confused and annoyed with me. He tells me "You know Spanish, but you won´t say it! I know you know it! I´ve  seen you read and translate in Predicad Mi Evangelio without English and you know it all!" Yesterday, Hermano Sanchez told us that we had 15 minutes to read up on la Palabra de Sabiduría y the Ley de Castidad, because we were going to one of the latino districts, and they were going to have one specific problem keeping them from baptism, and we´d have 20 minute to teach them. He then said that we´d be doing it one on one, without a companion (I didn´t like that). I felt pretty ready for it though, because I´ve been studyign those two topics so much. Well, the sweet hermana I was paired with had a completely different problem, she just wasn´t sure that baptism was the right option for her. In English, this would have been a piece of cake, because I could say what I needed to and I had lots of scriptures marked about baptism to support me and what not, but all I had were my Spanish scriptures, and I hadn´t picked out and marked a suitable scripture relating to baptism yet, and I couldn´t look it up in English first. I ended up sharing a scripture in Mosiah and saying what I needed to say in about 15 minutes and resolving her doubts. I still had time, but I was nervous to try and find another verse that I was thinking of, so I ended up ending early and just chatting with her. As our district was walking back to our classroom, Hermana Cefalo asked Hermano Sanchez if she was allowed to bring her English scriptures to appointments and practices. He said we could, then turned to me and said "You can´t." Of course I por que´d and he held up a finger telling me to wait. Once we got back to the classroom, he pulled me aside and said "I don´t measure your progress the same as the others. I expect more from you. I know what you can do. I know you can speak more Spanish than you think. I can´t wait to receive a letter from you in three months in perfect Spanish telling me that I was right. If you want, you can tell me to measure you the same as the others, but I don´t think I should."  Lots of this was in Spanish, but that was the basic gist. I thanked him, and told him I wanted to be pushed and I wanted to learn. I may have also teared up a bit, but what else is new. He said he had confidence and trust in me. None of this was necessary or part of his job description, but from my teachers, especially Hno Sanchez, I have seen awesome examples of the type of teacher I need to be.
I know that I absolutely need to make people feel loved and I need to let them know that I believe in them. The best teachers I´ve had (church or otherwise) have been the best because I have felt loved by them, and I learned the most from these teachers also. I want to work on developing those same qualities and learning how to show it for my investigators.

Earlier this week, Hermana Martinez and Hermano Sanchez were talking to me at the end of class and asked how my family was (I think they may have heard that something had happened, they just didn´t know what). I eventually told themthat Grandpa had died. Even though it´s been a while, I teared up talking about him because I am going to miss him. Hermana Martinez gave me a hug from her, and a hug from Hermano Sanchez because he couldn´t hug me. She´s about 5 feet tall, it reminded me of hugging one of my grandmas. It was gym time then, so I left, but an hour and a half later when I came back to class, Hermana Martinez handed me something with my name on it. She had taped three red index cards together, and each of my teachers, Hermana Martinez, Hermano Sanchez, and Hermano Rangel had written a short note inside.

My teachers are my favorite people, and such great examples of Christlike love. They have taught me a ton about Spanish, but the best thing I have learned from them is how to show love. Auugh I don´t want to leave the CCM, but I´m so excited for Ecuador and to teach real investigators!

Oh yeah, one of my favorite experiences this week happened on Monday. Hno. Sanchez arranged for our entire building to divide up into different rooms and have a little testimony meeting. It was cool because we had a companionship from every week in each room. It really helped me to see just how much I have progressed. Afterwards, the teacher over our room asked me and Hermana Fox if we spoke Spanish before coming here, which we took as a huge compliment. It was awesome to see that I can express myself well enough in Spanish.

I haven´t even written about general conference at all, but this is so long and I need to go! I will say this though: how amazing were Elder Holland and Elder Christofferson? There was so much boldness this conference. Did anyone else notice how much it was stressed that gender is an eternal and essential characteristic? Also, how great was watching that family choir? Those kids had the entire CCM laughing.
One of my favorite doctrines that was stressed multiple times was how all encompassing the Atonement is. The Savior is the healer of all infirmities: spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental.

Se que Padre Celestial nos ama, y yo se que Jesucristo es mi Salvador. Yo se que Jesucristo sufrió por mis aflicciones y dolores y pecados, y mediante la Expiación, podemos arrepentir. El Evangelio de Jesucristo es verdadero, y La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de Los Últimos Días es verdadera. Yo se que tenemos un profeta de Dios en el mundo hoy, Tomás S. Monson. Yo se que él recibe revelación de Dios por Su iglesia, y yo se que el profeta y los apóstoles son llamados a Dios. I would share more in SPanish but I ain´t got time.

Okay, I love you all, thanks!

.     Hermana Hanson, Hermana Chalmers, a tiny sliver of Hermana Bowen. I love my casa hermanas!

 I look ridiculous in this picture, but these are the only pictures I have this week. Our room is where everyone gathers. 
Hermanas Fox, Cefalo, Chalmers, Eastman, White, Hanson, and once again, a tiny sliver of Hermana Bowen.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

#4 Mexico City MTC

Guess what I did this morning! We did a temple session in Spanish! I needed help near the end, but I was amazed at how much I understood throughout the endowment. I pray for el don de lenguas every morning and night and I think it´s really starting to kick in. While I was sitting in the Celestial room, I could picture Grandpa Skousen peeking around the corner and giving me a squinty little smile and in my head I could hear him say "hello princess!". I just know that he is thrilled that I´m in the temple, especially speaking Spanish. I love it so much, and I love the temple in Spanish! All the workers are so sweet and the other ladies in the session that we ran into in the dressing room shook all the hermana missionaries hands after and said hasta luego. There is so much love for the missionaries. I put Grandma Skousens name on the prayer roll, and I feel like every short sister in the temple is just a latina Abuela Skousen, and there are plenty short sisters. 

I really love my district. It hit me that I´m almost done with the CCM, and I don´t feel prepared at all. Hermana Martinez told the elders that our district was using week 2 Spanish, and we´re almost our third week. so it really freaked me out. Whenever I get more than a tiny bit discouraged, I lose all confidence in myself, and I tend to talk less and less. I´m working on getting over this, but it´s difficult, because I don´t like doing things that I don´t think I´m good at. Anyway, yesterday I was feeling a little down because I thought I was doing great and then we were told that we were two weeks behind.  We were having class in the morning with Hermano Sanchez, and we were all practicing teaching the third lesson in ten minutes with another missionary. It was one on one, so I didn´t have my companion with me to start things off, and I am just not conversational, in English or Spanish. So I sat there in the beginning, not sure how to apply this lesson to the fake investigator profile we had been given, and it didn´t help that Hermano Sanchez was kneeling next to Elder Baggs, who was supposed to by the fake investigator, waiting for me to say something. Hermana Sanchez always seems to picks up on when I lack confidence. He asked me which points I was going to teach of the lesson, and when I told him I honestly had no idea how or what to say, he said "No, that´s not true. You are a great missionary, and you know what to do." He told me that he and Hermana Martinez had discussed how I am always able to express myself in the lessons where Hermana Martinez plays our fake investigator, Mía, even when the lesson takes a turn that we didn´t plan on (which is often. This Mía character is difficult). He told me that Hna Martinez was amazed at how much Spanish I knew, and they wondered how to get me express myself during in class exercises. It was really nice hearing some good stuff, because we really only receive counsel on what we aren´t doing well or what we need to do  better. I guess subconsciously I assumed that because I wasn´t receiving good news, I must not be doing anything right. Turns out that whole two-weeks-behind thing didn´t apply to me, which I like. After this exercise, we were released on the CCM to do some "contacting". There were hoards of new Latino missionaries arriving at the CCM with their families, and we went up to them and asked if we could share our testimonies or share a quick message with them. It was so fun! For an 45 minutes or so, we talked to people arriving, and then we helped some Hermanas take their luggage to their casas, and we talked with them, all in Spanish. When the crowds dissipated, we talked to some of the maintenance guys. We bore our testimonies or shared messages thirteen  times, which put us in the lead, and you know I like winning. But it was just fun to see how much we could actually express.

Then, yesterday night, we had a devotional. It was Elder Walker of the 4th Quorum of the Seventy. He and his wife are Argentinian, and she gave a short little testimony before he spoke, which he translated for us. I was struck with how powerful a simple testimony can be, because after translation, her testimony was very simple. I ended up writing half a page of notes while she was speaking, even though she spoke for maybe five minutes. After devotionals, we have a district devotional review where we just talk about what we liked or learned, and that´s the thought I ended up sharing. I just shared that I know that we don´t need to be eloquent with Spanish in order to teach with the Spirit. I was reminded on the quote where Brigham Young talks about a man without eloquence. It´s on page 199 of the English Preach My Gospel I believe. I don´t have it with me, but it was a comforting thought and a concept I really like.

Monday we taught Hermano Rangel´s fake investigator character, Iván.  We were prepared to teach him the Plan of Salvation, but when we walked in and asked him how school and work were going, he launched into a big story about how he was overlooked for a promotion at work and how he was worried about something in his family, and he was angry about something and felt abandoned and a bunch of other stuff that we didn´t completely understand. But we understood that he wasn´t doing too great. It ended up being a really cool experience though. We are only allowed to bring our Spanish scriptures and the Spanish pamphlets with us into lessons. I haven´t read much in the LDM, and our scriptures don´t even have an index like my English scriptures do, but it was cool because I was able to recall that there were a few verses in Alma 7 that I should share. I was able pick out the verses I was looking for in my Libro de Mormon, even though all the verbs are written in the unfamiliar vosotros form and I definitely was not sure what the scripture even said in English. I haven´t been able to just remember scripture references, even in English, ever. I usually have to flip around a bit and look for specific markings in my own personal scriptures, but during that lesson I was able to find an unmarked verse in a set of scriptures in a different language, within a matter of seconds.  He thanked me for sharing the verse and said that it brought him a lot of comfort, both directly after sharing it and at the end of the lesson as we were saying goodbye.

We have class with Hermano Rangel right after we teach him, and in class he said that even though he was in character as Iván during our lessons, the experience he shared was something that had happened to him this past week. He said that me and Hermana Fox showed excellent love for our investigator and that he felt our genuine concern, and because we were teaching with the Spirit, we shared something that really helped him. I loved it! 

I know I said this last time, but I love my teachers! Hermano Sanchez brings us Mexican candy to try out and called us his Distrito Amado, and Hermano Rangel is just so happy that we are happy, even though by the time he teaches us we´ve been in the same classroom for twelve hours and it would be easy to be in a foul mood. I love the CCM. I am tired 100% of the time, but it´s a good tired, because I know I´m doing good things. 

I still want letters! Emailing is once a week for an hour, but we can read letters whenever, so make the little girls write me some letters or something for FHE! If we have some pictures you can send, so that too, because the only pictures I have are in the big calendar, and our district likes to share pictures and talk about our families when we walk home at night. 

 I have to go, but I love you all, I want letters, and the church is true. Tell the married people that they have to write me too! 

Attatched is a pre-video Sunday night selfie.
 In the back is Elder Hendricks (funniest guy ever); Elder Nelson, his companion; Elder Christensen, our district leader; a photobomber; and Elder Scott. Front is Hermana Chalmers, Hermana Fox, and Hermana Cefalo.

  Me and Hermana Fox today at the temple

Me and Elder Maughan on Sunday (he flew out to the field yesterday I believe)

My lovely district today at the temple. I love this picture because everyone looks so uncomfortable. From the top, Elder Christensen, Elder Nelson, Elder Hendricks, Elder Scott, next
Elder Kemp, Elder Reynolds (he´s a Travis), Elder Magnussen, Elder Baggs, then me, Hermana Chalmers, Hermana Fox, and Hermana Cefalo. The names are mostly so I can remember. You know, just in case.

You can´t really tell, but this is the hardest rain I have ever seen. My shoes and skirt were soaked through in minutes, and it hailed for a few seconds. ´The weather´s been gorgeous the last couple days, but I miss the rain.
I also think there´s mud on my face in this picture. No idea yet on how that happened.
My shoes and skirt were soaked through in seconds.