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




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