Monday, April 29, 2013

"How Are You?"


 
 
Hola!! A wonderful week in the DR. It’s fun to feel a little more settled in. We pass by a lot of the same streets everyday and it’s fun to have the ¨regulars¨. There is a little girl who every time we pass by says, "how are you?"  We respond in English but she just repeats how are you over and over because it’s all she knows. This is starting to spread and the whole street is now saying it. I absolutely love the Dominican people. 

We greet all the women with a kiss on the right cheek. Men also greet women this way, but as missionaries... we don’t kiss the men on the cheek. Something interesting- all the women have curly hair and all the women want straight hair. They all wear curlers around everywhere and then blow it dry and wear these hair nets to keep it straight. I guess we all want what we don’t have, I love their curly hair. 

Mango season is in full swing. YUM. My companion and I were at a members’ house and we had a bag of mangos. We offered her a mango and she accepted and then ran into her back yard and put a handful of mangos from her tree into our bag. This is completely symbolic of how the people are. So kind and generous. 

Everyone on this island has heard of the Mormonas; the church is pretty strong here. It’s amazing to see how much missionary work builds the church. Most of the members are converts. All three of the missionaries I live with were either converts themselves or their parents were converts; and now they are on the flip-side of the work. It really is a church built on converts.  Of course we are all converts. 

I believe I have found my new favorite talk: Faith, Reason, Knowledge, and Truth by Richard N. Williams. It is incredible and it has changed my perception of faith.

This letter is a little bit all over the place but that is how my stream of consciousness is, so it is fitting.  

Thank you for your letters!!!!!!!!!!! I am far from the office so it may take a while for the package to get to me. But transfers are next week so someone may bring it to me. Thank you!!!! I am nervous about transfers. I think I’ll be in a tri-companionship. There are four of us together now and because I was with Hermana Thomas in the MTC and we live together now; we have grown close. She is from D.C. and she is already fluent because her mom is from El Salvador. I love laughing with her and talking to her. Thanks for setting up the Skype account. I am SO excited for Mother’s Day.

Loved your letters!!!!! and pictures... cute Owie as a lunch server. I am glad you guys are doing well. I get so much strength from your insights and laugh at your stories. LOVE YOU!

Thank you for all the support and love. 


Hermana Meg

 

 

Monday, April 22, 2013

The London Fog


I am learning what it means to be humble and to trust in the lord and have an eternal perspective. The past few weeks I have been trying to wrap my head around how it is not fair that I was born with so many opportunities, to a wonderful family, with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’ve seen many things that are painful; kids are homeless, families that don’t have food to eat, and many people that don’t have hope and something to live for. There are Haitians enslaved in the cane fields and many families are separated- half in Haiti and half here. We were told in the MTC that the D.R. is the third poorest country in the Western hemisphere, Haiti, being number one. At times, seeing these things has made me feel very insignificant and discouraged. I was expressing my frustration to my companion and she reminded me this isn’t my work, it’s the Lord's. It seems obvious but I absolutely needed to hear that. It isn’t my work and it isn’t my world. There is a lot of pain, sickness and poverty in this big world that I can’t fix. I can’t give everyone a home, food, and a family that loves them. But everyone can have the gospel. It’s neat to be a part of something bigger and better than I am. I have leaned on the story of President Hinckley when he received the advice from his father to forget himself and go to work. He recalled how he felt the London fog was lifted then. I have experienced a similar feeling. There's a lot I don’t know but there are also things I know with certainty. God is just and fair and things will work out. 

Some positive news is that we have a family that is progressing. They have two cute little girls and have been going to church and ward activities. They want to get baptized but need to get married first. Most couples aren’t married here because the process is a little difficult. This couple isn’t married but they have a marriage date for July. It’s a little far but she wants to get married on her birthday.

To answer your questions about food; we aren’t allowed to eat with members or out of any houses for sanitation and financial reasons. However, the people are very generous and sometimes make us take their baked goods, which we re-gift to other houses we visit. There are four of us living together and we all cook for ourselves. And yes, I am still vegetarian! The apartment we live in is cute. We have to unlock four locks to get inside. We have fans to keep us cool but the power goes out often. Thank you for all the love, support, and prayers!  You guys are my source of strength. I think about you so much. And dad, I am so excited to help you garden, and I mean that. Tell uncle Steve muchisimas gracias for the family history package he sent. I love all your insights and everything. I dont have any photos because 1) most people who plug their cameras into the computers here lose all their pictures and they get a virus in the camera 2) because there are thieves looking for electronics. LOVE YOU!!!

"Just as doubt despair and desensitization go together, so do faith, hope and charity. The latter however must be carefully and constantly nurtured; whereas despair, like dandelions, needs so little encouragement to sprout and spread. Despair comes so naturally to the natural man." - Neal A Maxwell

"You cant do everything for everybody everywhere, but you can do something for somebody somewhere."

Con amor, 

Hermana Meg

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Saludos



It looks like the weather in SLC is a little bit different than in the DR. It is hot, hot, hot here. I have a really nice sandal tan- any sunscreen I put on seems to just sweat off. 

 

To describe La Romana... Our area is quite large and covers both city areas and more of the country side. There is a large river called Rio Salado in our area that is pretty. Most of the streets are really loud. Music is always blasting and they are not afraid to use their horns. They are the champions of the wheelie (wheely?) here. It is not a rare occasion to see a motorcycle or bicycle pop a wheelie for an entire street. The houses are really bright vivid colors. There are fruit stands on every corner and all the mango trees are ripening as mango season is just beginning. Dominos is a favorite pastime and people play it on tables on all the sidewalks.

We don’t typically knock on doors, mostly we bang on people's gates outside their houses and yell, "buenas", or "saludos". When I introduce myself I think many people think I am saying I am Christian rather than Christensen because often the response back is, "Christiana, amen, amen." I love walking around - which is good because we do a lot of walking. My feet are holding up pretty well - so far! There are times where we take a carrito to things if it is too far to walk - such as district meetings. A carrito is pretty much a car that claims to be a taxi. 


Many of the people live in impoverished circumstances. It isn’t rare to be sitting on buckets, teaching in a one room house with the six children and chickens running all over... (ok well the chickens only happened once but there are a lot of stray chickens, dogs and cats everywhere!) It is a challenge to see the way other people live. They have such simple lives; it makes me wonder why I was able to be born into a good LDS family in the United States and why these people weren’t. As I have thought about this, it helped to hear President Uchtdorf’s talk about West Africa and seeing the light in places where there are challenges. Light is always triumphant. Many of these people are still happy and radiate light despite their circumstances. I also liked the quotation you sent from President Uchtdorf’s Priesthood meeting talk: “Remember that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is built not for men and women who are perfect or unaffected by mortal temptations, but rather it is built for people exactly like you and me.”   The gospel gives us much to hope for (Ether 12:4).

I read the other talk you sent with me, His Grace is Sufficient and I absolutely loved it. We had to turn in our mp3 players at the Mission Home, so I am not able to listen to the talks you sent with me, but I love the hard copy ones - so thank you! 

Every day is a new adventure. 
 
 

"If we all threw our problems into a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back"

Con Amor, 

Hermana Christensen

 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

40 Lessons Last Week



No Time for Photo's This Week

Padres!!!!!

Hello hello. Week two down. This week was soo much better. SO much better. It is still hard and I’m still learning but the first week I felt lost. But I love my companion. Our friendship grows every day. She never had to struggle with the language but she is patient with me. She is a crazy hard worker. We don’t take our dinner break and we shorten other breaks. We taught 40 lessons last week and we could easily get sixty because a lot of those were long lessons. We can get into 97% of the houses here. I imagine there aren’t too many places like the D.R. Everyone wants to talk about "la palabra de dios." 

I was able to watch conference on Sunday and loved Elder Holland’s talk. Loved!

 I have been reading some of the talks you printed off for me padre. I love Elder Holland’s Remember Lot’s Wife, The Inconvenient Messiah, and Elder Maxwell’s The Inexhaustible Gospel!!! So good!  I actually love all the Neil Maxwell talks you sent me.

Also, thanks for the photos and the info you sent on La Romana, it was interesting. A ton of people here work at the Casa de Campo... I think it’s a resort with a lot of rich Americans... 
 
 

Mom I forgot to mention how jealous I am that you met Mr. Mitt Romney!!!!! Shut the front door! I am jealous. 

Guess what... 26 missionaries are coming in May... Guess what... 20 are Hermanas!!!! I am either going to have to train or be in a tri-panionship. This should be interesting haha.

Yesterday we had interviews with the President and the office missionaries brought me a wonderful letter and package!!! Thank you, thank you!!! I think they sent an email with my addresses to you? They said to tell our parents to only send packages to the package address because it is much more expensive for the letter address and they take money out of our accounts for packages. 

Funny story... so last night we were teaching a lady and half way through my comp challenged her to baptism and she said she's already been baptized, which is what a ton of people say, so my comp said we are going to explain more about the authority of God. I proceeded to explain Christ’s ministry, the apostasy and restoration. The whole time she was nodding her head and just saying "si." After I asked her if she would be baptized. She repeated that she had already been baptized. I tried again to explain that the baptism wasn’t legitimate because it needs to be performed by a priesthood holder. It was a lot of explaining... Well, we came to find out she was LDS and had a Book of Mormon with her hahaha. We were bullying a member and wasted an hour. 
 
People here still tell me they don’t understand me... I always feel like telling them I don’t understand them either. Mom you're right, you do feel like a little kid again. I was on the verge of tears every moment last week and lessons were the scariest thing because I had to try so hard. But I’m getting the lessons down better and understanding more. The biggest difference is that I try and laugh and enjoy it. There is so much to laugh about and there are some really neat people.

 The thing I’ve noticed most is how much the gospel blesses families. There is such a different feeling in the houses of members. I am so grateful for the gospel and for our family. 


LOVE YOU LOVE YOU. Thanks for your emails and updates

Hermana Meg 


Monday, April 1, 2013

First Week - La Romana



The first week in the field went pretty well overall. I have a wonderful trainer and I am among some of the most kind and humble people in the world. Of course, as everything in life, the beginning can be challenging. There were a couple of moments when I felt like walking home - but luckily God put me on an island. J It's a bit overwhelming to see so many people who live very different lives than the life I have known.


My companion is the lovely Hermana Arce. She is from Spanish Fork. Her parents are Mexican so she was raised speaking Spanish. Our area is La Romana. Sister missionaries haven't been in this area for over fifteen years and now there are four of us (my companion and I and another companionship all live in the same apartment). The ward here is wonderful. They welcomed us so warmly and are so willing to help us and befriend us.

The bishop picked us up from the store and we piled into the back seat of his little car while his wife held all of their small children in the front seat. There wasn’t room for our groceries with the luggage he had in the trunk so he tied his luggage to the back of his trunk. Other ward members have been wonderful - going to lessons with us and helping us find our way around. A perk to being a Latter-day Saint is that you have someone looking out for you no matter where you are in the world.

My companion and I were asked to sing an Easter song for the musical number yesterday - just minutes before sacrament meeting started. Neither of us has any musical talent and I am convinced the song we ended up singing is the highest Soprano song in the hymnbook. We sounded really good – not.

Something interesting I learned this week is that other religions often pray out loud at the same time together. This caught me off guard when I was starting a lesson with a prayer and the whole family all started praying.

The people are wonderful and I am growing lots. I love you so, so much but I am happy to be here and want to work hard.

Con Amor,

Hermana Meg

 


Presidente Heriberto Hernandez