Monday, December 30, 2013

Feliz Ano Nuevo!




It was so incredibly amazing to talk to you on Christmas. I loved seeing your faces and hearing your voices. 

I’m sorry that it is so cold and you have snow. The weather is quite pleasant here right now. I am still always sweating, but just sweating less than before. 

We had a lovely Christmas. Christmas Eve we went to the bishop´s house for a huge dinner. It was super yummy; potato salad, rice and beans, veggies. Then on Christmas day we were invited to eat in the apartment of senior missionaries. The office elders are the elders that are in the pictures. We had a great time. Other than the meals and getting to Skype the fam, Christmas is a normal day in the field. We still went out to teach. 



We teach an English class every week in the church. I didn't realize before how much I do not know the grammar rules for English. Now I know the rules better in Spanish. What I have been doing is picking a topic i.e. how to give directions, food, animals... and we learn vocabulary and then we practice talking. I really enjoy teaching the class! We invite all of our investigators to attend. Often they are more open to the church because of the class. 

I love my companion so much. She is wonderful. We only have one investigator progressing right now. He is about 35 years old and works selling jewelry to the tourists. He is a super nice guy and has now gone to church twice. He loves his mom so much and she is slowly dying. He wants to change his life for her. He really wants to make something of himself. He feels like he has wasted some years and is now ready to realize some of his goals. I’ll keep you updated. 


I noticed there is a rice cooker in one of the Christmas pictures. I eat brown rice here nearly every day. So good! So, Meisha eats with her hands? What a little savage (Pocahontas).

Feliz ano nuevo! I can’t believe 2013 has escaped us. I am excited for this New Year. We are going to have to go in a little bit early on New Year's Eve because there is a lot of drinking and partying. 

Love you so much,

Meg


Monday, December 23, 2013

Feliz Navidad


Family!!

I loved the airport pics of darling Meishy and photos of the fam all together (minus 2). I can’t believe she is home. 

We had a good week! We have had quite a few activities. 

Wednesday we had zone conference. In the past, all the missionaries in the whole mission would gather together to have a big talent show and Christmas dinner. But the mission had about a hundred less missionaries in the past. Now we have 250, which is the limit. With 250 missionaries we were unable to all gather. So, instead we had zone conference with a few different zones. We had a program and then a dinner. It was so fun. 



We also did a service project on Friday. Our service project was caroling. We all brought our hymn books and someone had a flute so we could sing peaceful Christmas songs to the patients. However, it didn’t turn out to be peaceful or reverent at all. Some random guy (who was not a missionary) with huge drums joined us and was playing super loud. Then some of the nurses joined in and were shouting, "with more enthusiasm." So our reverent hymns turned into all these peppy Latin Christmas songs I had never heard before. All the gringo missionaries just awkwardly clapped to the beat. It was so fun and super hilarious but I feel bad for the poor patients who probably wanted to sleep. 


After caroling we did a program in the lobby of the hospital. Every set of missionaries did an act or a musical number. We did the skit where the person behind is supposed to be the arms. We put on makeup and did hair for the hermanas in front. (Hopefully the pictures make this understandable). One of the nurses was laughing so hard she was crying. 


One thing that is fun about this area is that we get to do exchanges with the hermanas in the MTC. I feel like I was just in the MTC but going on exchanges is kind of fun to see how much we have grown. I remember being so scared contacting or trying to teach when I went on splits in the MTC. Now it seems like second nature. 

Here, the big celebration is on Christmas Eve. The tradition is to have a big dinner. We have been invited to eat at the house of our bishop. I am going to make some American desserts to take with us (thank you for sending the recipes). And then the kids get to open their presents on el dia de los reyes which is January 5, 6 or 7th, depending on the year. 



Tell the Boss family and Brian Anderson thank you for the cards!! It is fun to receive mail from great friends. 

I am so grateful to be here during this Christmas season. It is a very different Christmas, but one I will never forget. I have such wonderful friends and family and want to say thank you. I am grateful for our lord and savior Jesus Christ; for his example and courage. I am so happy and love my mission. 

Xoxoxo

Meg
Talk to you tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!





Monday, December 16, 2013

Roses Out My Window


"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon- instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today"   - Dale Carnegie


I cannot believe that Meish is coming home this week. I cannot believe it. It has definitely made me think about the end and how I would like to feel as I am on the plane ride home. I would like to feel satisfied. She has been such an amazing missionary and a wonderful example to me. 

We had a great week this week. It is quite a bit more challenging to get into houses here so we do quite a bit of wandering. Regardless, we have found some very interesting people to teach and we are working hard. I have a wonderful companion. She has a great sense of humor and luckily - she has a better sense of direction than I do. Luckily, all my companions so far have been competent with maps and better with directions than I am. We get along really well.



 I love the ward here!!! The bishop is the D.R.’s Chuck Norris. He is a general in the army and his wife works with the police force. They are hard core and wonderful. The ward is really strong and supportive. They had the ward Christmas party. It had the same 'ward party' feel as all the ward parties we have at home. However, the entertainment was kareokee with dancing. A person would pick a song they wanted and go up and sing and dance to it. This was a normal ward party but with Latin flavor. I had to give a talk yesterday. I chose to speak about grace. I was SO nervous but I think it went well. 

Mom, I can’t believe your co-workers’ family is in my ward!!! I totally know who the Dickson Family is. They are neat people. It is such a small world. 



There are muchas hermanas in this zone, which means lots of exchanges. We started exchanges this past week. I love that I have the opportunity to get to know a lot of the Hermanas. We are also supposed to help the hermanas that have problems in there comanionship (which is quite common). I have learned a lot about the importance of communicating with your companion. 



Cate looks so beautiful in her winter formal pics!!

FELICIDADES GARY!!! I am so happy for him. Shawna is a catch. Take lots of pictures at the airport with Meish. 

paz y bendiciones

Hermana Christensen






Tuesday, December 10, 2013

La Zona Colonial



Hey! I’m alive. Sorry, I was unable to write yesterday because the power went out. But the first week in our new area went really well. Goodbyes were hard and I miss La Romana; but change feels good. We are whitewashing the area - so this week we walked and contacted MUCHO.

My new companion is Hermana Morales from Guatemala. I am so happy because I really wanted a Latina companion to help me refine my Spanish. It took some getting used to; when we woke up on the second day, I started talking to her in English and she just looked at me like I have no idea what you´re saying. Oops. But I love her and we get along really well. There are just a few words that I miss from Sister Thomas that don´t have a Spanish equivalent, like creepy, sketchy, sassy, and awkward. 

I love our area! It is wonderful. Part of the area is called La Zona Colonial and it is filled with old houses, streets, and churches. It includes the house where Christopher Columbus died and the oldest cathedral built in the Americas. I love walking the streets because I feel like I am in Europe. The other half of our area is also really pretty. It’s a wealthy area. When we got to church everyone had cars, iphones and nice clothes. 

Mi Roomates

We live with two other Hermanas and I love having four in the house. One of the Hermanas, Hermana Manalo, is from the Philippines! Her brother is serving in Naga and Meish and her brother know each other. It’s a small world in the church isnt it? Hermana Manalo is SO cute! If all the Filipinos are like her, I can understand why Meish loves the people so much. She is adorable. 


Hermana Manalo

I have a confession. I opened the Christmas packages you and Gram sent me! I opened them in the office as soon as I got them. Sorry! Thank you so much to Gram and Grandpa Reed for the yummy treats and pedometer (I think it’s called a pedometer). I have been using it and on average we walk 8 to 9 miles every day. The treats made me miss you Gram! And mom and dad - thank you so much for the clothes. I LOVE THEM. And the calendar! I couldn't find a calendar at the store so it was a perfect present. I haven’t opened the stockings for my companion and me. I´ll wait until Christmas. GRACIAS! 

My bishop is so awesome. We can Skype at his house whenever we want to - so Christmas Day should work great! 

Love

Meg

“Discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage”  
                                                                                  - Neal A Maxwell



Monday, December 2, 2013

All Good Things Must End



We had a very eventful week. Transfers are tomorrow and... I have a new companion and a new area! I will be companions with Hermana Morales. From what I've heard, her parents are Mexican and she lives in Provo; my third Latin- American companion. We are white washing Gazcue and we will be Sister Training Leaders over that region. I believe the temple, mission office, and the President’s home are all in our area.  President and Hermana Hernandez will be in our ward. I am really excited for this new adventure. It’s in the capital and it will be such a different experience! 

Hermana Thomas will be staying in our area. It’s going to be so strange being separated from her. We have had some incredible experiences through the good and the difficult; we have grown so much together. We are different than each other but make a great team. She taught me all about professional sports and cars (she  is mechanically skilled) and I have explained Les Miserables and introduced her to Jane Austin. I am grateful for all the laughs and wonderful experiences we have shared. 


We had a baptism this week! He is 20 years old. We contacted him a month ago and invited him to church. He came and we began teaching him. He has attended church and every activity in the church since we contacted him. He comes from a challenging home situation but he is a really happy kid. 



We were also supposed to have another baptism on Saturday but it didn’t happen this week. :(

We contacted The man who was going to get baptized four months ago. We invited him to church and he said he had heard about the church about 20 years ago and had never forgotten the things he had heard. I asked him if we could come by to visit him. Before our first visit, Hermana Thomas and I were quite skeptical. He didn't seem like the type of person that would be interested in church. However, he really surprised us! He has great spiritual depth and really did remember the things he had heard years ago. He has been going to church inconsistently since that time (about every other week).

The problem is that he owned a bar next to his house. At night they play loud music and sell alcohol. When we invited him to be baptized, he said that he wanted to change his work situation before he made that decision. So, he has been looking for a new job. During that time, we have been visiting him twice a week- for the past four months. He has changed his life so much; I am so impressed with the sacrifices he has been willing to make. And...he found a new job and it’s a good job, working for the government. He has already received his first paycheck. He has also passed his baptismal interview. But, he says he needs to wait a little longer. I think he wants to completely hand over the bar before he is baptized. I am so sad I won’t be there to see the occasion but Hermana Thomas said she will send me photos. He is a really good guy; really kind and charitable. Something funny about him is that he lives alone and does most of the domestic chores but he pays his neighbor to wash the dishes because he says washing dishes is too feminine.

This past week, I lost my voice. On Thursday I could barely talk so Hermana Thomas had to do almost all the teaching. The rest of the week I could talk a little but my voice was really deep and raspy. I was told that my accent was better low and raspy because I sounded more Dominican! wahoo



It’s an exciting time for our stake here in La Romana because there are thirteen young people leaving on missions in the next couple months. Twelve of the thirteen are going to Mexico and the other one is going to Honduras. The boy that’s in my ward that is going to Torreon has been emailing Spencer. I hope they are companions. It’s interesting because most of the missionaries serving here are from Guatemala, Mexico, or Honduras. Maybe it’s because they have similar economies or a similar situation?? 


Fun fact: we are now allowed to go to the beach - to look at it - not to get in. Previously, we couldn’t do even do that. Hermana Thomas and I took a nice sunrise walk to the beach. Also, today for P-day we went as a zone to the beach! So fun. 

We had a great week. I can’t wait to read all your letters! I am printing them off right now. Chari sent me a Christmas package! She knows me too well because it had lots of chocolate and some really yummy granola! Some of my favorite things. Also, she sent CTR rings which I like to hand out to our baptisms. Thanks Chari!!!!!!!!!!!!! Our Thanksgiving was good - very mellow. No turkey, just rice and beans. Love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





Monday, November 25, 2013

Love The Hernandez's



We had interviews this past week with President Hernandez. I know every missionary says their mission is the best, however, I know for a fact that my mission president and his wife are the best mission presidents. President and Hermana Hernandez are truly the most loving people. They are always so worried about our safety and health and want us to be happy and enjoy the mission. I am so impressed and truly adore them. They are both converts. I don't know their story but I know they converted a little later in life so he actually didn't serve a mission in his youth. He always says this is his first mission; he has a really good sense of humor. They are going to be here until July; I am so glad I get them for the grand majority of my mission.

But interviews went really well; they came out to La Romana and we all met at the stake center. Hermana Hernandez told us that president only puts missionaries he really trusts in La Romana because it’s the furthest away. He must really trust us because we've been stuck out here for nine months. :) They also gave us some heavy duty bug spray to spray in our apartments. There has been a lot of Dengue Fever which comes from mosquitoes. I REALLY hope I don’t get it; it’s quite strong and after some missionaries get it, it affects them their entire mission.

We also played a game while we were waiting for our interview. The game was "who knows their companion". The APs would ask a question and we had to write the answer for ourselves and then what we think our companion put. I don't mean to brag or anything but Hermana Thomas and I, we really dominated. I guess we have an advantage after five transfers as companions and seven transfers living together. The only question we didn’t was 'something that irritates you'. There is more than one answer so we didn’t get that one.

I guess if I brag about how well we did in that game, I will have to humble myself and admit how terribly I did in the game we played after. One of the zone leaders was picking a scripture, and I really think he was just picking a random page in the bible or Book of Mormon and he would read it. The goal was to be the first person to find that scripture. I am pretty familiar with the scriptures but I had never heard of any of the scriptures he read. Some of the missionaries really know their scriptures. Especially the Latin’s; they practically have the bible memorized.


 M. update: She is still one of my favorite people. She is a loving mother and asks profound questions. I know she loves our visits and the peace and happiness that she knows she will find from the gospel are appealing to her. However, she is hesitant to take proactive steps in her life. One appointment, right at the beginning, she said, "I am filled with too much hate, I can’t be baptized in your church until I cleanse myself from this hate. I don’t want to steal your time so maybe you shouldn't visit me anymore." We told her that we could see her progression and we aren't going to drop her. When we taught about tithing, she was thrilled to discover that none of the local leaders are paid. She said, "Christie (she calls me Christie), one day I am going to join this church. This will be my church." And during the last appointment she gave us a long thank you for the peace that has come into her life since we have started visiting her. There really is a noticeable change in her. She smiles and laughs more. She says there is hope at the end of the tunnel.

She also said that she knows our message is true. I asked her how she knows it is true. She said she grew up in a religious home. She has always participated in religion- many different religions. M. said she has always heard that God is full of love but has never felt that it is true. The people that preached of his love didn't resemble the words they taught. She more or less expressed the words Christ spoke, "They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." Then she said when we knocked on her door and shared with her things she had never heard of before. M. said for the first time, she was listened to. She could open up and express things she had never told anyone. She learned that the trials in her life weren’t punishments from God. She said we were humble and sincere and really cared. She said, "If your message isn't true, there's no hope. We're all lost."

I don’t write these things to show how we are the best missionaries. I am still learning and have a long way to go. I just really enjoy visiting her and it reminds me that missionary work is all about caring about people and developing relationships. After playing the scripture game I mentioned above, I felt like I was the worst missionary. However, the knowledge you have doesn't convert people. It reminds me of a quote, "missionary zeal does not grow out of intellectual beliefs nor out of theological arguments, but out of love." I also didn't write the things she said to bash other religions. I have met so many people here from different religions and I am so impressed with them. We are all human and we are all learning. There isn't a church full of perfect people.

We asked her why she hasn’t gone to church yet and she said it was because her daughter didn’t have a skirt. The next day we bought her daughter an outfit. It was really fun. Well, she still didn't go to church. I didn't mind. I bought it because I really like her, not to make her go to church. I think she is fearful. Hopefully she can take some proactive steps in her life to create change. Change doesn't come to us; we have to create it.

Wow, I have put "I dont mean to brag" twice in this email. Every time Hermana T. or I find that we are bragging or when one of our investigators starts bragging, we look at each other and hum - Be thou Humble.


See Meg hiding in the back so she doesn't have to do the pose

I loved the Rachel Remen article. I love the idea that the satisfaction, peace, and the quality of life depend on the Art of Living- or ability to find the stories in your experiences. I was thinking about the article when I was in an appointment. I was frustrated because the guy we were teaching was talking so much and a little kid had taken my umbrella and I noticed he had broken it. However, I thought of the talk and tried to look at the situation with different eyes. I realized that the little kid was under the umbrella playing make-believe that it was pouring even though there were clear skies. I thought of how hilarious it was that this guy wouldn’t let us get a word in, and looking at my surroundings I was reminded that I was in the D.R.; a beautiful island! I am going to try and look more for the stories.

Thank you mom for the talk you sent me. I can’t wait to see Catching Fire!!!!!!!! And cute Kristen sent me a package. She sent me some pens, which was inspired because I always loose mine and I have barrowed so many from my companion. There was a picture Truman drew and a cute note from Grant that said, "Dear Megan, I miss you! I like it when you babysat us. I wish you could come back!" So cute!!!! Tell her thank you for me.

Love you all so, so much. I am sorry for the length of this email. I am just craving a conversation with you all... Christmas is just around the corner. Have a wonderful and safe week.

Enjoy Thanksgiving. Love you!

Quote from Kristin:

"Courage doesn't always roar, sometimes it's the quiet voice at the end of the day saying "I'll try again tomorrow.""

 

 

 

 

Monday, November 18, 2013

9 Months



hello hello!

Hey fam! Wow I was looking through all the info you sent me about the typhoon in the Philippines. That breaks my heart. I have asked around quite a bit to see if the members and investigators knew anything about it. It's interesting because only one person I have asked has heard anything about it. I guess that would be due to a lack of technology.

We had a good week. Suni had her baptism. She is pregnant with twins; what a great way to begin her family. The baptismal service was very nice. I told Hermana Thomas that I was going to prepare a talk because I had a feeling they were going to ask me to speak - last minute. It's good I prepared something. As soon as we walked in the church I was asked if I could give a short talk. It was very short. But it was a great night and four of the Elders in our zone came to the baptism. We are super united in our zone. It is probably because our zone is the furthest out so we have to be friends with each other because we are so isolated.


 

- The mangos are slowly disappearing and the orange season has begun. I bought a ten pound bag of oranges for the equivalent of $2.50.

- We had a long discussion with one of the less active members. She is a teacher and insisted that there are 5 continents. There are 7 right?

- The cruise ships come in every Tuesday. Quite a few times we have run into members. So far they have all been from California. On Tuesday we were talking to some members for a while. The woman said, "I have never sweated like this. I have a river running down my back and I know I am not imagining it." With the humidity - the heat here is a different heat than we are used to in our lovely Deseret.


9 Months

- Can you send me more shoes? I am so sorry, I already have holes in the ones I have right now. I remember my friend that served in this mission told me that he wore hiking boots because the ground here is so abrasive. It really is. I put cardboard in the bottom of the shoe and I have enough cardboard to last me a couple of weeks so don't overnight it or anything. But when you get the chance can you send me some new shoes? Thank you!

- There is a phrase that they use often, "si dios quiere", or if God wants. We have noticed that they say it more when they don't want to do something- or don’t want to be fully committed. We sometimes get a little weary of hearing it after we extend commitments. Sometimes we can’t help it but say, "Hermano, of course God wants you to keep the law of chastity", or "Hermana, of course, he wants you to go to church."

- God is such a huge part of the culture here. I kid you not that most of the vandalism says Cristo Viene. There is a big grocery store here called Christ is Coming, Repent. My favorite is an underwear store called The Holy Ghost.

- Our area is doing really well right now. We should have two more baptisms by the end of the month. Fingers crossed. I am so nervous because one of them says that he has something he needs to tell us... I hope it’s something good.

Thank you for all the updates and photos. Love you all so much!

"There are two kinds of failures: The man who will do nothing he is told, and the man who will do nothing else."


 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Will Smith and a Baptism




How sad about the typhoon! I can’t even imagine the destruction. I am so glad Meish is safe. I don’t think I have to worry about any Caribbean hurricanes. In general, their storms start here in this area of the Caribbean and then get bigger as they move north... at least that´s what I have heard. 

We had a good week. The highlight of the week was a baptismal interview that one of our investigators had. In June she had been living in a different area and receiving the lessons in that area. When she was interviewed the first time she wasn’t quite prepared and wasn´t able to get baptized. Well, she moved into our area and we´ve been teaching her. On Saturday she had her interview. The funny thing is that the elder that did her first interview was transferred and is now our district leader and was able to do the interview again. What are the chances? When he walked in, she just looked at him and said, “I know you.” But she passed! When he told her she passed and was going to get baptized in a week, she said in English: “yes, yes yes!!!!!”. She did a happy dance and shook me. Best reaction ever.


My Friend Who Calls Herself Will Smith 

We had a leadership meeting in the capital this past week. We have to wake up at 4:40 a.m. to get there on time. Usually the power is out at this time so it is quite dark when we leave the apartment. The meetings are always really edifying. One of the elders told a story I liked. He is from a little village in Peru where it hardly ever rains. He said that one day he tried to till the ground with a tool that wasn’t doing anything. Because of the language difference - I can’t tell you what tool he was using, but it was a tool that wasn´t working. He worked and worked but his efforts produced no fruits. He then switched to using a pick. It was metal and sharp. Immediately the ground started to break. His topic was about working hard AND effectively. I like this analogy because it reminds me that I shouldn´t work just to work. Sometimes on the mission, it’s easy to fall into patterns. I begin to work just to work. However, I know that we can enhance results if we work with purpose.


 
I get a lot of emails from an elder in Arizona. He doesn’t mean to send them to me. I think somehow I made it on the email chain because I have the same last name. Sometimes I read his emails. He said they work on Facebook and the mission just gave the missionaries iPads. How different their mission is!! I don’t think iPads would work here.

 Tan Lines

No dog encounters this week. My companion keeps saying, “I ran for my life” in the Sweet Brown accent.

A lot of our investigators have some pretty big obstacles in their lives. We are trying to help them. We are so incredibly blessed and before I started this adventure, I really had been sheltered from a lot of the big problems of the world. I am so grateful for all that I have learned.


MTC Reunion

xoxo

Meg

 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dogs, Halloween, and 7 Kids at Church

We were each other for Halloween
 
 
Querida familia

We had a week full of dog encounters. I have a theory that they know I don´t like them so they always choose to bother me. On three separate occasions, I had a dog following me and bothering me. Luckily, people helped me and chase away the dogs.

The dog encounters culminated Saturday. We were searching for a woman´s house. The set-up here is there is a house in front and then usually a dozen little houses in back, it´s called parte atras. Anyways, we were searching for her house when we heard dog barking. At first a little dog came out from behind the corner but then a BIG ferocious dog comes around the corner about 40 feet away. Usually, when we have dog problems, I say “stay calm” to Hermana Thomas so I guess that´s what she expected. She claims that I didn´t give her any warning that I was going to make a run for it and when she turned around I was half way to the gate. However, I feel as though my yelp of fear was a sufficient warning. 

I hurt my hand trying to get open the gate and somehow her umbrella broke in half. The dog was right on her tail and she barely made it through. After we got through the gate and caught our breath we had a good laugh. She continues to say, ¨I can´t believe you left me!¨ I tell her that I stick to the pirate´s code: those who fall behind, get left behind. 

We had a good Sunday yesterday. We helped an investigator haul seven of her ten children to church. I can honestly say I didn´t hear one word that was said during testimony meeting. Entertaining kids is hard! I tried to remember all the things mom used to do with us to keep us quite. Mom, thank you for your patience! This investigator is pretty interested in the church. She comes from humble circumstances. They have a little kitchen and one room for eleven people. I don´t know how they do it. I am not sure how much she understands the things we teach but she said she felt good in church. 

We had one appointment that lasted 2.5 hours. He is a Haitian man and took notes- wanting to know every detail. I feel like we did a pretty good job of answering all his questions, with the exception of how you spell Susquehanna. 

We are still doing exchanges every week. I enjoy exchanges because I enjoy seeing how other missionaries teach. Examples are the best way to teach and I have accumulated some really good examples from other missionaries. This past week the Hermana I was with was teaching about the Book of Mormon and that God communicates with his children no matter where they live. She said, “for example, if you have a child in Puerto Rico and The United States, which one are you going to talk to?” She was hoping she would say with both of them. However, the lady said she would talk with the one in Puerto Rico... that ruined that example. I think I am going to send a list of the examples I use to all the cousins serving and ask for the things that help them in their teaching. 

 
You asked about the investigator we started teaching 2 weeks ago. Sadly, we haven´t been able to teach her this past week. Every time we passed by, she wasn´t there. And she didn’t go to church again.  

I love Carlisle´s essay you sent me. As we´re walking, I have lots of time to think about different theories and I really like his ideas. 

Hermana Thomas likes to read all the cousins blogs and then keeps me up to date on what is going on.

You people don´t stay put! I love all your updates and pictures. I am always glad to see that Cate is making sure my wardrobe doesn´t gather cobwebs. :) She can wear whatever she wants. As the weather has cooled down, the mosquitoes are eating me alive. I may use my mosquito net for the first time. I am happy and doing well. Soo good to hear from you

Hermana Christensen


There is a story behind this - that Meg forgot to tell us

Monday, October 28, 2013

Up On the Roof


 
Saludos! We had a good week. We typically get about thirty lessons per week but we focused on planning more efficiently and we were able to get forty this past week. I also stopped carrying my bible this past week. It was hurting my back too much to have all that weight. Everyone has a bible in their house so I can just use theirs when I need to use a verse in the bible.

Yesterday was the primary program. Kids are the same wherever you go; there are some that know all the words and belt them out and others who are in their own little world. There was a cute little boy who was using the sacrament cup for his pirate eye and was pretty focused on that the whole program. Also they had quite a bit of parent participation. The closing number was a boy and a dad singing together. I was wondering if Dad would be down on singing a duet - that made me laugh.

Yesterday a cute couple from Canada came to all three meetings of church; they've been vacationing here for their honeymoon. We translated for them and it was fun! It’s so funny because whenever there is someone white all the members tell me she looks like me. Also, when they are flipping through the ensign they will say: "this girl looks just like you."



To answer your questions:

I pretty much just eat what I did at home. Toast, wraps, beans and rice, pasta, pancakes. We don't really get the culture experience as far as the food goes because we don't eat with Dominicans for health reasons. Lunch is a really big deal here. Contacting from eleven to one can be challenging because everyone is cooking. The most common dish is La Bandera which is beans rice and meat.
 
Everyone tries to feed us. They are very generous people and everyone offers us food. They do get slightly offended when we turn them down, more than I expected. We also have to be careful not to compliment too much because then they try and give you their stuff.

I actually have never seen anyone filter water here. Everyone just has those big blue jugs and once it’s empty you take the empty bottle to a place to exchange it for a full one. It used to be hard for me to carry it but I think I'm getting stronger:)

Sad to hear the good ol Altima was dying. That was a good car. I am proud of you Cate for playing so well on the soccer field and that's so awesome you are going to go out with the sisters! We are so grateful for all the members that go out with us, it really helps.
 
The annual Webster Halloween bash looked like a hit. That's awesome Sara is going to England.

Dad, I love the quote you gave me and mom I am so happy you are now working with a Dominican. Dominicans are the best.

There is a boy in my ward that is going to Torreon Mexico. He leaves in February and he wants Spence's email address. I will let him know that Spence suggests missionaries wear lots of deodorant.

One of my favorite things to do is when we are contacting apartment buildings and when we get to the top, I love to look out at the view. It is so peaceful. It looks so different from the top - so green and the ocean always is closer than I realize. Even though we have contacted the majority of our area, sometimes from the rooftop we can see new places that we haven't touched. I love the idea of perspective. There are moments in life when it’s difficult to see the big picture but I will try and apply the "rooftop perspective" more in my life.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here and meet so many wonderful people. Love you so, so much

 
Meg

 

 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Still Here



Another transfer has come and gone and... drum roll... nothing happened. Hermana Thomas and I are still together. There is nothing like Sunday night when you are sitting waiting for your call telling you where you will move to on Tuesday morning. I had already started packing my stuff and was telling Hermana Thomas how much I'd miss her. The joke was on me. We did see an investigator as we were walking to the internet cafe and he said, "You are staying! God heard my prayers!" That makes it all worth it. It’s the investigator that is sitting in the chair in one of the photos. 

You asked about my Spanish. It has definitely improved and my thick Gringa accent is getting better. I can follow most conversations. Even if I don't know every word that is said I know enough to figure it out. I can’t always say exactly what I want so sometimes I take a round-about way to describe stuff. But I have really come to love the Spanish language! Something that makes me laugh is sometimes when I go on intercambios with some of the Latinas, they will be like, "what did the investigator just say?" “I dont know! It’s your language!” But the Dominican accent is really thick so sometimes other latinos don’t understand.  


 

We are still working with the woman we found last week. She is awesome. I really have connected with her and appreciate all her thoughtful questions and that she longs for truth in her life. She has had some really painful, terrible things happen to her. She doesn't open up completely about these things but we have an idea based on her reaction to certain subjects and some of her questions. What she has said to us is that this is the closest she has ever come to talking about the things that happened to her. She has never had anyone to confide in or anyone to defend or fight for her. On top of the challenges from her childhood, she got in a really bad accident a couple months ago and hasn’t been able to work since but she has two kids to feed. 

She asked again why God sent us here and why wouldn't he relieve his children from their suffering and why he would cause trials. She said she just can't quite make sense of it in her mind but she is trying. I don’t know where this came from but I compared it to the mission. Right now we're away from home and have limited communication with our parents. However, they still give us advice and want the best for us. It’s their love and support that helps us during the difficult times. Our parents don’t cause the challenges we face in the mission nor do they want us to suffer. However, they know we will grow from this experience and they want the best for us. And we'll see them after the mission. Life is like one big mission. It’s not a perfect analogy but she liked it! So thank you for all your love, support and help- it gives me analogies for investigators. But, I love this woman and hope that she can find more peace. She said she was going to cancel our appointment with her but when she saw us walk up to her door it felt like her best friends were visiting her and she thanked us for the peace we have brought to her life. She hasn't been able to go to church yet but is reading the Book of Mormon. 

In this area, it is quite difficult to get people to go to church. The church is far from the areas we work in. We hear all kinds of wonderful reasons explaining why people can’t go to church. My favorite one has to be "If I go there no one will be here to watch the house." I want to assure them their house is not going to grow legs and run away while they are gone.

Dominicans do love to be visited. It is pretty easy to get into houses. Some people on the street will ask when we are going to visit them; some clarify it is to visit them and not to preach to them.  

You asked about D. Oh my, it makes me so sad. After we explained to the bishopric why he probably shouldn’t be confirmed on the Sunday after his baptism, I think one of the bishopric members talked to him and he hasn’t wanted to come back to church since. We still visit him. He reads the Book of Mormon really thoroughly and writes us a summary of the things he has read. It is a reminder that we need to be gentle with people's weaknesses and the way we talk to them.

Good job Cate - killing it on the soccer field. O. is getting so tall and his hair is so long- I miss that little guy. I am glad Mikey's birthday celebrations went well. I can’t believe it’s been a year since he made the Facebook group for his birthday and invited everyone. Tell him hi for me. Meish goes home in exactly two months!!!!!!!!!! Wow, and Andrew is more than a year into his mission. Thank you for all the updates and stories. I am doing well and I am a happy missionary. I love you to the moon and back. 


Peace and blessings, 

hermana Christensen


 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Rain

 

 
 

We had a really good week this week. One week until transfers. I've never heard of a companionship being together for more than four transfers so we'll see if Hermana Thomas and I can break some records. Whenever we go on exchanges I miss her. Everyone says when they separate us we will cry; it’s probably true.

 Finally, the temperature seems to have gone down! It’s been raining quite a bit. I can tell it’s less hot because I use my sweat rag less often. Have I mentioned how much I sweat here? Wow, with the humidity we just sweat and sweat. I feel bad because the women here have a tradition that you always embrace with a kiss on the right cheek. And we are always dripping with sweat.

We worked really hard this week on finding new investigators and we found one lady that I'm really excited about. She is a young single mother of two. In our first lesson, she expressed something that really bothered her. She said she has asked her pastor but says people make her feel bad for questioning things. She had always heard that God is loving; but she didn’t understand why our loving father would place bad things in our path and move us around like chips in a game. I’m not sure what Church Doctrine is on that one but I was able to express that every bad thing that happens to us is not a punishment from God. We live in a world that isn’t perfect and the rain falls on those who are good and bad. The gospel enables us to overcome the challenges of life; it doesn't omit them. Every lesson we have with her has been really long because she has so many questions; thoughtful questions that really stretch us. I would say she is the first "golden investigator" that we have had. We have seen the atonement start to work in her life.



Yesterday we participated in the stake mission prep class. First off, it was a struggle to get there. We were asking everyone for directions and they ended up directing us to the Jehovah's Witnesses chapel; everyone always thinks we are J.W.s. But the class was really fun and went well. We did a mock lesson and then answered questions the youth had. I was somehow more nervous for the mock lesson then for real lessons. This stake has four youth that have just received their mission calls; all going to Mexico. None of them will be in Spence's mission.

A man yesterday bore his testimony about keeping promises. He said he had been thinking about Christ and contemplated; what if Jesus came and decided he wasn't fit to be the Christ and didn't fufill his purpose? This thought has stuck with me. It reminds me of the talk Meish sent me Finishers Wanted.  I am so grateful that Christ had the courage to fulfill his purpose.

Thank you so much for the pictures, updates, and motivating messages. As Mom says, I'm a bit of a skimmer and sometimes it’s hard to answer your questions or comment on all the things you write. However, I always print out your letters and read them over and over. Sometimes I even have conversations with you in my head about the interesting things you write.

Love you ever so much,

Hermana Christensen

 

Monday, October 7, 2013

One Year Ago. . . .

Isha
Family

I can’t believe it has been a year since President Monson made the announcement of the age change. I will never forget that day. I was watching conference with Hannah Jenkins at her cabin and we were freaking out. I specifically remember mowing the lawn later that day and wondering where in the world I'd be a year from then. I never would have imagined the D.R. To be honest, I didn’t even know where the D.R. was. 


Conference Breakfast

Conference was wonderful and edifying. In order to go to the Saturday session of Conference, we had to have investigators attend. So we have been inviting everyone and their dog to the Saturday sessions. I was laughing because one of the elders was saying he felt bad because he's been telling all his investigators Saturday is the most important day for them to go. We were able to go to all four sessions! I loved the messages from President Uchtdorf and Elder Holland on Saturday and President Eyring and Elder Oaks on Sunday. Some points that I really enjoyed are:

·         The lord blesses us in significant but subtle ways. You may ask for some trial to pass only to find that you are blessed with resilience. (He pointed out that too often we - -pay our tithing and expect a check in the mail but the blessings are more subtle) 

·         The acorn of inquiry grows into an oak of understanding. Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. 

·         Afflictions are a reality of life. We live and chose to live in a fallen world. If the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and hope for better days ahead but don't harden your heart.

·         Stamina is necessary to be in physical and spiritual shape. With spiritual stamina we will have the inner strength and peace to confront challenges

·         The most important thing we should be doing right now is recognizing and using the atonement in our lives. 

·         God sees weakness different than rebellion. He looks at weakness with mercy. 

·         You should teach the gospel and teach the things the gospel has taught you. Don't just be an echo but seek revelation. 

·         Trials can result in growth, understanding and empathy. Rather than solve our problems - the Lord wants us to develop faith and trust. 


 

For me, the over-arching theme was trust in God. It is definitely a message I feel like I needed to hear. 

We had a good week. A highlight for me was we did an awesome FHE and played the game where one person writes a sentence and the next person has to draw it and the next person has to describe it with a sentence etc.. It was really fun and the little kid wanted to keep playing it, even though he was cheating and peaking haha. We also have been visiting this lady who told us she is moving. She got emotional telling us how much we have helped her in her life. I get so attached to people - regardless of whether they progress in the gospel or not. There is so many moments where I just think: “how in the world am I giving life advice to this person who has way more life experience than me??” It’s crazy. 

In other news, my companion has lost over 40lbs since being in the mission field! She looks great. Also, people keep asking me if it’s starting to get cooler. Nope. I most definitely haven't noticed a change yet. Other exciting news is that next transfer our mission will be approaching the limit of 250 missionaries. Also, you have asked about some of the responsibilities I have. We go to the mission leadership meetings and then work with the Hermana’s in our area on the objectives we set at the meetings. We also go on exchanges which is really fun because I get to go back to my old area in Villa Verde.

Thank you for the package! I wore the skirt two days in a row and already went through one pack of gum

Love you all so much,

Meg

 Reunited with my MTC Pals