Monday, March 31, 2014

Our Friend - The Artist



We got to watch the broadcast of the Relief Society meeting yesterday! It was so good. I thought I saw mom in the audience... I think it was just wishful thinking. Or maybe it’s because all white people look the same.


So our friend that we have been teaching for a few months was baptized on Saturday! As I have told you, his investigation began strictly out of curiosity. He is an artist. He loves philosophy, history, and is a deep thinker. He asked many questions that challenged us and really made us think. When he was first invited to be baptized he was quite reluctant. We would meet every week and he went to church every Sunday . . . but the transition of curiosity to conversion was quite gradual. But, little by little his heart was softened and the key factor in his conversion was when he began to pray to know if the church is true and if it was a path he should take. For days he didn't feel like he received any guidance from God; but over time he had a strong feeling that it was something he needed to do. He said that he couldn't deny what he had felt and that God had communicated with him. The baptismal service was beautiful and the ward loves him. He is a great person and I have no doubt that he will be a strong member. 


So there is a wonderful family in the ward that we are really close to. The mom feeds us often and likes to give us sandwiches to take with us. I failed to explain to her in the beginning that I don't eat meat and now I feel like it’s too late because after all this time she will naturally wonder why I didn't tell her earlier and what I've been doing with the food. So far I've been good at hiding it but this past week it was a little challenging. She gave us fajitas with beef and cheese and then she sat down to chat and watch us eat. I made eye contact with my companion; we both knew I was in an uncomfortable position. Before even touching her food, my companion starts eating off my plate. The lady watched her with the funniest expression. Hermana Morales just smiled and said, "I'm really hungry." I sure love my companion. She's got my back, even if it makes her look selfish. 


I saw the president of the D.R.! We were walking and many police cars passed and then a nice SUV. President Danilo was sitting in the front seat. I was freaking out, "It's Danilo! It's Danilo", My companion laughed at me and asked who Danilo was. I was so disappointed in her for not knowing. Then when we got home I told the other sisters I saw Danilo and they didn't know who he was either. Lame. I thought it was cool. 

Once a month we have a leadership meeting with President Hernandez and his wife, the zone leaders, the district leaders and the hermana leaders. There are three missionaries that speak and then the A.P.s and President speak. Everyone else takes notes and then the Z.L.’s give the same talks in their own zones. I have been assigned to speak this week. I am SO nervous; especially because my Spanish isn't that great. Pray for me!!! I'll let you know how it goes. 


Thank you so much for the packages!!!! I got one from the fam, from Grandpa Gwen, and from Shannon and Hannah. You all know me too well and sent me some of my favorite things. Thank you SO much!! I love the treats and already wore the new skirt; it’s nice to have something new in the wardrobe. 

I am so sad to hear about the passing of Ann Ostler. The Ostler’s are so wonderful and I cannot imagine how tough that is.

I love you all so much. Thank you for your emails; I laugh so hard at your stories and love your insights and updates. I'll find out on Sunday if I get transferred or stay. I will let you know. Hope you have a great week! 

M

"Life is the acceptance of responsibilities or their evasion. It is the business of meeting obligations or avoiding them. To every man the choice is continually being offered, and by the manner of his choosing you may fairly measure him." 

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that really matter."
                        - Martin Luther 




Monday, March 24, 2014

Man On The Hill



We have to climb a big long hill twice a day to get back to our house; once in the afternoon on our way to lunch and then in the night when we have finished our work for the day. Lately, when we are on our way back for lunch we have been running into an elderly man pushing a big cart up the hill. This man collects bottles and other things and puts them in his homemade wooden cart. It is heavy. We have begun helping him push his cart up the hill on the days we run into him on our way home for lunch. People cheer us on. Some cars even pull over to watch. We help him until the incline ends which also happens to be the edge of our area. I don't know where he goes once he makes it over the hill - but we love helping him on that little stretch. He smiles at us with his toothless smile and says, "adios mis hijas." It’s something so simple but so rewarding.  It makes me feel happy and super sweaty. 

My Favorite Dominican Dish

This past week my comp and I had to give a talk for our zone on having a positive attitude. A negative attitude can be destructive in any situation and a mission is no exception. We asked our zone what things make them feel discouraged. Everyone started shouting things at the same time. Apparently they had a lot of things that discourage them. The list included the heat, their ward, companion, bishop, ward mission leader, exhaustion, investigators, when all their appointments fall, illness, etc. We talked about how there are things out of our control and we shouldn't focus on these things that we can’t change. A few months back I told you about a book that the church produced to help missionaries adapt to mission life. It is really useful. Below are some of the tips:

o   Accept the reality of some boring routines. Not everything in life is deeply meaninful and exciting. 
o   Don't procrastinate. Learn to break down big tasks into smaller pieces; putting things off can lead to depression
o   Avoid comparing yourself to others
o   Let go of what you can’t control
o   Be kind to yourself. Talk to yourself with kind encouraging words. 
o   Take care of yourself by eating well, exercising, and plenty of sleep. 
o   List your strengths and gifts and cultivate them
o   Give yourself credit for doing something you don’t enjoy or don’t do well. Don’t tell yourself it only counts if you are happy about it or did it perfectly. 
o   Envision success - worrying can be a way of mentally practicing failure. 
o   Give yourself permission to sound confident, even if you don't feel it. 
o   Focus on gratitude
o   Take it one step at a time. Remind yourself, "All I have to do right now is..."
o   Break up your day. Don't do one type of activity for too long at a time. 
o   When you live with someone 24/7 you will notice some things that annoy you. You come from different backgrounds and have different ideas of what is appropriate or normal. Your companion's behavior makes perfect sense to him, even if it doesn't to you (this one makes me laugh).o    
o   Be humble. Humility is the fountain of all virtues.  

Someone shared an analogy with me that I enjoyed. She said life is like a train. Some passengers may be scared of the speed; others think it’s moving too slowly. Some people are looking out the window and are awed by the beauty of the view; others don’t notice and are missing the stunning scenery that is passing by. Some passengers are enjoying the ride; others are not. They are all going to the same destination but their perspective of the ride varies. 


This past week I did an exchange with my friend who is a Hermana from Hondurus. When the day was finished, we got ready for bed and started to talk - which ended up being a three hour conversation. She told me about when her brother was shot and killed; she talked about how difficult it was for her family. She told me about how much she loves her country but how sad it is to see all the challenges people face there. We talked about experiences we have had in the mission field and all the heart breaking things we have seen here. The poverty has been one of the hardest parts of my mission. I am in a wealthier area right now but still, I have seen and can't forget the way many people live in the world. Sometimes we just have to remember that many things are out of our control. 

I got a letter (DearElder) from Aunt Sara. Tell her thank you! It was so fun to hear from Sara. I am glad to hear you all had a good week. 

Our artist investigator is getting baptized on Saturday! Pretty exciting!! :) I will update you next week. This has been so rewarding because initially he was just curious to learn more about the Mormon's and we have gradually been able to observe the steady growth of his testimony. He is intelligent, educated, speaks perfect Spanish, and has really studied the doctrine and knows it well. 

The papaya season is at its prime so we are eating lots of papaya. I love you and am praying for you. 

Con mucho amor, 

Meg

"You cannot control the length of your life, but you can control its breadth, depth and height."

"Life is not a rigid business of being but a lively process of becoming."
                       - Ford Lewis



Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day



Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I forgot to wear green - but no one´s noticed. Actually no one is wearing green. 

The most exciting happenings of the week are as follows:

1) We had the opportunity to go to the temple this past week; we only go every six months. On Thursday our zone attended. It was SO incredible. I have been thinking about it since we were there. I won’t say much but I will say that I love that sometimes we choose to take the hard path even though we know it will be hard but it is what we need to do. 
It's a Tradition to go to Wendy's After the Temple

2) Brownies in a mug! I have been introduced to this wonderful creation and my life has been changed for the better. It is super convenient because it the serving size for one person and doesn't require an oven - just a microwave. The recipe is as follows:
4T flour, 3.5Tsugar, 2T cocoa powder, 2T oil, 2T water, 1/4t vanilla. mix in a ceramic mug and bake in microwave for 60 seconds. YUMM


3) We had stake conference. It was so edifying. The area president Elder Anderson spoke; such a gifted speaker. He spoke about missionary work. He shared a bible story from Judges 7 about Gideon's army. Gideon had 22,000 men but the Lord tells him that was too many. Gideon says to his army that if there is anyone fearful or afraid they leave the army. 10,000 stayed. This was still too many. Gideon then does a strange test to see who drinks water properly and who drinks like a dog. After this test, 300 remained. Gideon's army was reduced from 22,000 to 300. President Anderson said the Lord does not need many; but he needs the faithful. 

He also asked the congregation who was born in the church. A few people raised their hands - mostly missionaries and youth. He then asked who were converts. Almost everyone in the congregation raised their hand. 

This little survey was interesting because this past week I was told twice that I don’t understand the challenges of keeping the church's standards because I was born in the church. One time it came from a progressing investigator and the other time from a recent convert who is also less active. I have thought about this. To an extent, I agree that it is easier for me to maintain my standards because I have always had the gospel. I am grateful for all the converts in the congregation that raised their hands - being first generation members. For their faith, their children will receive the blessing of being raised in the gospel light. I am grateful for my ancestors who were willing to leave their homes and often times their families to embrace the gospel. Because of their courage, I was born and raised in the church. 


4) Thank you for the package! I love receiving packages; especially when they have chocolate inside. The Cadbury eggs were delicious, the note book was adorable and I loved the notes from the young women. 

Happy birthday Katelyn and tomorrow. . . . Happy 50th to Jeffrey Reed!!!!! I hope it’s a good one. I will be thinking of you. Goodbye to Sarah, she will be a wonderful missionary. 

xoxo
Hermana Meg

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."

"We are what we repeatedly do"
                      - Aristotle


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Platanos, Mangu, & Yuka


HI!!!

Wow, Costa Rica looks like a blast and super pretty. I´ve met a few missionaries from Costa Rica and I love their accent; they don't roll their R's. You all look great; I love the pics. 

We had a great week, as usual.

 I have been trying to eat more of the Dominican food and have been eating a lot of platanos (i think they are called plantains in English). We had a family home evening at a members’ house and they taught us how to make mangu. Mangu is like mashed platanos mmm. It’s so yummy. I have always finally tried Yuka. It tastes a little like potatoes. 

We have a friend that is in a wheelchair that lives on the street who always wants to chat with us. His name is Kiki Nike. He can’t ever remember my name so he calls me Catrin. Although he can’t ever remember my name, he always asks me to marry him. He says it’s not for the visa, it’s for love... but the visa is a bonus. He always serenades us with his singing (Billy Jean is my favorite of his works). He writes me notes which reminds me of my old investigator who always wrote notes to us and addressed us as Mormona Thomasa Obama and Mormona Christina Clinton. I actually get marriage proposals every day. When I walk by, the men will say, "look there goes my visa walking by." I guess if there are no prospects in SLC, I have some options here. 



The elders that work in the office are in our ward. They are trying to go out in the field more so they asked us if they can teach our investigadores that we aren't teaching anymore. We took them to a few houses to introduce them to different people. We took them to one lady that didn't ever want to go to church because she was embarrassed that she didn't have any teeth. We have explained to her many times that no one will even notice and the outward appearance doesn't matter. She explained to the elders why she didn't want to church. One of the elders was trying to make her feel comfortable and laugh so he said that his teeth are ugly too and all the members make fun of him. She was like, "well then they'll make fun of me as well." I think he did more damage than help. We gave him a hard time after that appointment. 

The artist and the young boy are still going to church every Sunday. We have a couple others that are progressing as well. 

I received a package from Katelyn! Thank you Kate!!!! The chocolates were so delicious and we have had a lot of fun with the whoopy cushion. I am sad their family lost Conrad. He was such a sweet man. 

Love you so much. Enjoy C.R.

M



3 Simple Rules in Life
1. If you do not go after what you want, you'll never have it
2. If you do not ask, the answer will always be no
3. If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place



Monday, March 3, 2014

Man In The Park



I met your friends Mindy, Jon, and Marie yesterday! We saw a bunch of white people enter the church. One of them came up to me and put her arms on my shoulders and said, "You are Jeff and Chris' daughter." I loved talking to them - a little piece of home. Mindy was so sweet! She also bore her testimony and I translated for her. They are here on a humanitarian dental trip. One of the dental hygienists gave me a bag of Cadbury eggs. It was wonderful especially because I just told my companion two days before that I was craving Cadbury Eggs. So yummy! 


Funny Story: So we were teaching a man in the park when a drunken man approached us. He was so incredibly drunk. He sat down in front of me and kept repeating, "I love you, I love you, I love you." It was hard to focus but we continued teaching and finished the lesson. The man we were visiting said the closing prayer. I bowed my head and closed my eyes but my companion didn't want to close hers for fear of what the drunken man would do. During the prayer, I felt the man reach out and grab my hair. Then I heard my companion whack him hard on the arm with her Book of Mormon and say, "do not touch her!" The man let go and didn't bug me anymore. My companion is hard core and always looking out for me! 

The Candy Bracelet's You Sent

The artist investigator is still consistently going to church. He has now gone over ten times. He believes in our message but he believes all of the churches have part of the truth.  

Two out of the four Hermanas in our house have been racing to read the bible cover to cover. As a result, we have had many discussions in our house about the bible. I have been reminded of how strange the Old Testament can be - even disturbing. 

Due to thinking about the bible and meditating about the beliefs of our investigator, I have been thinking about truth. I think our understanding of truth changes with time and perspective. I came across a quote that I really liked: 

"I do not even believe that there is a single revelation, among the many God has given to the church that is perfect in its fullness... The revelations of God contain correct doctrine and principles, so far as they go; but it is impossible for the poor, weak, low, groveling, sinful, inhabitants of the earth to receive a revelation from the almighty in all its perfections. He has to speak to us in a manner to meet the extent of our capacities."

I like the idea that something can be true and correct without being perfect and complete. I am grateful that I get to share a message of truth restored every day. It may not be whole and complete because we receive revelation line upon line precept upon precept. Nevertheless, it is true. 



Love you all so much and have a great week! 

"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory" - Dr Seuss

Mindy Robinson


Hi Chris and Jeff,

What a wonderful surprise we had this morning when we saw this radiant sister missionary walk into the chapel! I saw the name tag and immediately knew she was your Megan. We had a chance to visit with her a little, before and after Sacrament Meeting.

What a lovely young woman she is. She bore a beautiful testimony. It makes me wish I had stuck with my Spanish, because I didn't understand her words. However, the strength of both her spirit and testimony was clear to all. You've done a great job with her!

We are here with our kids on a dental humanitarian trip. It has also been a great bonus that Marie Wessman Goddard and her son, Nash, are on the trip. It was fun for all of us to meet Megan.

I hope all is well with you and both of your families.

Love,

Mindy