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