Monday, February 24, 2014

Glad to Stay in Gazcue

This week it was Ward Conference and absolutely packed full. We were sitting on the front row with one of our investigators. It was really quiet in the church as someone from the stake was talking; all of a sudden a woman started screaming. I looked back and saw a woman screaming and shaking as if she was having a seizure. People started yelling to grab the baby out of her hands. A handful of people rushed towards her and helped her get outside. My companion looked at me and told me it was our investigator. I was in denial so I just shook my head at her and told her that it wasn't. She insisted and said we needed to go help out. I agreed so we exited the room together. Sure enough it was our investigator.

The mission doctor was outside trying to talk to her. He is an American - so I translated for him. He was asking about medical history but her only response is that she felt the spirit. She explained that she had been away from church for so long so when she entered the room she was shocked by the spirit. I am assuming she has visited other churches that taught her that the spirit manifests in that form. Later that night we visited her and taught her that we believe the spirit usually comes when we are quiet and reverent. 

My Friends

Another transfer has come and gone! My companion and I will be staying here in Gazcue. I am excited because we have some really good investigators right now and I love the ward and area. Transfers are a good time to reflect on the past six weeks. As I looked back, I recognized that in some areas I didn’t push myself as hard as I did in the beginning of my mission. For instance, I feel comfortable with the language so I don’t study as diligently as I once did. The problem is that I still don't speak perfectly and I have a lot to learn; but I can get by. Another area is my scripture study. I have also found that in lessons I sometimes fall into a pattern of using the same examples and saying the same things. It’s nice to feel comfortable and confident but as I reflect, in these next six weeks I want to push myself harder. I also felt a bit homesick at times over the past six weeks. I accept that I am going to miss you all every single day but I want to have more discipline when it comes to thinking about home. I am excited for this transfer because I really do want to push myself. 

One of my investigators from La Romana got baptized this past Saturday! I was so excited to hear the news. He is 23 and wants to serve a mission. 

We had a secret gift exchange with the whole zone. We pulled a name out of hat and gave the selected person a gift. I asked my companion who she had and she wouldn't tell. 

Question: What is going on in Venezuela? I have heard the country referenced various times in the last few days. Is there turmoil there?

Love you all so much. Have a good week! 


Carnival Time

Monday, February 17, 2014

Meeting People

Hello, Hello to my Family. 

I completed my one year mark. We had district meeting on that day and one of the hermanas in the zone congratulated me and told me that she would like to have the skirts and blouses I have when I leave. Haha I still have a long time, Im not done yet! 

This past week, we had quite a few people contact us. We are usually the ones that have to approach people but occasionally people are curious or they want to practice English and will come to us. One woman that approached us this past week was a missionary for the Catholic Church. She is from Chile but has been in Haiti for the last two months. I asked her how it was in Haiti. She started to cry and said she saw many sad things but the hardest thing to see was all the starving kids. She said it resembles Africa. It breaks my heart. It has been interesting to see the relationship between Dominicans and Haitians. The countries do not get along and there is a lot of ill-will between the people. 

Sunday nights usually drag for me, it is usually the hardest part of the week. Last night we were contacting close to a members house; she was outside and told us to come visit her. We happily accepted her offer. She told us about the battle she had with cancer this last year. She said that many times when young people die, people say that it was what was supposed to happen. She said she didn’t believe that. She said when Christ was on the earth and had the chance to heal someone, he healed them. He didn't say no because it was their time to die. Something that I really liked was that she said she wanted to actively fight her cancer. Some people may just say a prayer and hope that it will go away but she said she would pray for the strength to take the steps she needed to take and do the things she needed to do. She began eating so many different roots, herbs and vegetables along with her chemo-therapy. She said she had an evil growing inside her and she wanted to get it out. She also filled her life with the things she loves to do. She sews, and cooks, and creates things. Being at her house last night made me want to be filled with life the way she is; to live life more fully. I entered her house feeling very unmotivated but left feeling encouraged. 

I love that we get to meet so many different people and hear their stories. Each person has their own story. 

Valentine’s Day was fun! In the D.R. they call it the day of love and friendship. I think that is to help those that don’t have a significant other to feel better. An investigator gave us bags full of treats and a necklace. He said he doesn’t have many friends other than us so he wanted to celebrate the day somehow. Also, one of the Hermanas that I live with got robbed on Valentine’s day. She was walking and the man behind snatched her bag. Cute Hermana Manalo saw it happen and started chasing him and yelling at him in English, almost catching up to him. The poor Hermana has been robbed twice now. 

Hermana Mack is from the D.R. - She got to go to her Dad's Baptism last month

The young man and the artist I talked about last week both went to church yesterday. Yea!!! 

I love hearing about the Olympics and all the updates about your week. Thanks for the emails. Also, I got the shoes. Thank you! Have a good week! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

525,600 Minutes

A little over a year ago, I was on a long train ride with Spence from Florence to Milan, Italy. I recall that it was late and most of the passengers were sleeping. Spencer and I were discussing the adventures and challenges that awaited us in the mission field. I remember asking him if he was nervous. Of course his answer was no. I, however, was scared to death. The initial romantic notion of a mission had been replaced by fear of the unknown and the reality of the commitment was daunting. I questioned if I really actually could handle a mission. 

One year later, I am happy to report that I am still alive. This Thursday I will complete one year in the Dominican Republic! It was been a year filled with sweat, prayers Spanish flashcards, laughing, struggling, exchanges, cooking beans and rice, and holes in my shoes from the miles and miles of walking. It’s been a year of growth and clarity. My eyes have been opened to how truly blessed I am. 

I also can’t believe it has been a year since I have hugged my parents, or laughed with my siblings, or hung out with my friends. I miss you all so much but I am so thankful for the letters and prayers and encouragement. I am so grateful to be here and I don’t regret choosing to serve - not one bit. 

And the report of the week: it was a good week but it dragged a little. 

We have one investigator that has now gone to church six or seven times. He is an artist and he thinks profoundly about spiritual questions and always has deep, deep questions. I really enjoy visiting him. The lessons are more like conversations rather than us just talking at him. 

We also have one teenager than has gone with us to church two weeks in a row. The ward doesn’t have many young men and they are so excited and everyone has befriended him and invited him to their houses. The ward is so wonderful and they help us out continuously. The teenage boy is really excited and said that he wants us to teach his friends as well. All of his friends happen to live outside our boundaries and so the other hermanas are going to teach them. The boy went out with them to introduce them to all his little friends; the hermanas said he took the guilt trip approach with his friends; "You dont want to talk about God?? You need to make time for God in your life." Haha he is great. Hopefully he can continue to progress and join the church and then one day be blessed with a mission call. 

Our other friend isn't progressing. He didn't come to church yesterday. Sometimes I don’t know where the line is between respecting someone's agency and trying to push and encourage them. It’s been kind of difficult to see him progress so much and then start falling. 

Congrats mom on your new work schedule! Cate looked so gorgeous for her dance. You all are celebrities getting on the news! As always, thank for the updates. Have a wonderful week. 

Hermana Meg 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Happy Birthday Cate!!

My MTC Pals

Family! First off, happy birthday Cate! I miss you so much and always laugh about crazy memories with you. The big 18. I think you can now buy dried ice. Don’t get too crazy! 

Another week here in the D.R. Sorry that I didn’t have any photos last week.

This week we had another hermana meeting this past week. An meeting exclusively for the hermanas. We got there early to help set up and it was so hilarious watching all the hermanas pile in and say to all their fellow hermanas that they havent seen for a while. Hermanas are so peppy. I really do enjoy reuniting with my hermanitas. It’s especially fun to see the girls from our MTC district. We laugh and talk and catch-up as if we were old time friends even though we only spent six weeks together in the MTC. I really love those girls and know that we will always be friends. 

My Sistah's 

The theme of the meeting was boldness. We talked about being bold and where our value lies. Hermana Hernandez said that when we are timid we lose opportunities. It is so true that our self-doubts, fears, and shyness can prevent us from growing. We listed all the things that scare us in the mission field.  Then with that list we talked about how we can overcome our fears. We have a mission psychologist and she also gave a presentation. Something she said makes me laugh: she said that when missionaries come in who show signs of depression - they take that missionary through a questionnaire. One of the questions is "do you feel unattractive?" She said that without fail all the hermanas answer yes they feel ugly and the elders answer no; they know they are attractive. 

I love living in the house with three other hermanas. It feels like a college dorm room. We do each others’ hair and nails and relate all the funny stories that happen to us during our day. 

In this country it isn't uncommon to name two of your kids the same name. I’m not sure if it’s because they can’t think of more names or maybe the parents just really like the name. Anyhow, we are teaching two brothers - both named Juan. 

A highlight of my week: There was a big centipede in our room and when my companion saw it, her first reaction was to say, "Oh my gosh!" I am so proud. I have been teaching her English phrases. 

Unfortunately, I don’t have much of an update on Carlos. I’m not really sure how to help him at this point. Keep praying for him. 

I got my package!!!! I love it so much!!! Thank you for all the treats and dental supplies and Meish - thanks for the pearls. You know me too well. I love them!!!!

Love you all so much. Have a wonderful week!!! Xoxoxo