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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!