Monday, April 2, 2018

2 April 2018

So as I'm sure that many of you know, it was General Conference this weekend. For those of you who don't, that's when we get to watch broadcasts of our leaders giving us divine guidance and direction, and happens every six months. And wow, what a crazy one this has been! A temple in Russia, reorganized Elders Quorum and ministering rather than home teaching? This is big stuff! We had rumors circulating around the mission that there would be some big announcement this time around, and that it would happen during the Sunday morning session. Well, that came and went with no big news, and so I assumed it would be over and the rumors were nothing more than just rumors. And then Sunday afternoon session came around and I heard that President Nelson was going to "address us briefly." And that was when I knew that it was going to go down. I feel like Ministering is going to be much more effective and Christlike than the previous Home and Visiting Teaching, (especially for the priesthood) and that it is going to help the members a lot. Personally, I can't wait to go home and have a chance to do it for myself. It'll be great!
I do have to admit that on Saturday I made a bit of a mistake... I locked us out of the car. Oops. Fortunately, our branch president was able to pick us up so that we could watch conference at his house and our Fleet Coordinator drove all the way from Raleigh to get us the spare. I felt pretty bad about that, but it was kind of funny at the same time. The only frustrating thing about this was that if we had had the other kind of mission car, it wouldn't have been a problem at all. Out here, 95% of the cars are Chevy Malibus or Toyota Corollas. We have a Corolla, which doesn't even have a button on the trunk to open it. (Which is where I got the keys locked in.) The only ways to open the trunk are with the key fob or from the driver's seat. Neither were accessible, as both are inside the car. However, with the Malibus, it's a different story. Not only do they have a button on the trunk that would have sensed the proximity of the keys and unlocked so I could open it, but it also would have sensed that the keys are still in the car and it would have unlocked one of the doors. So yeah... I we had the different car I would have been fine. But nope, my forgetfulness is in full force. 
The only other other weird experiences we had this week were when we were tracting in this trailer park, and there was just a cow hanging out in the field next to it. Just one cow. Tied up to a mid size tree branch that was somehow keeping it in place. Maybe by the power of suggestion. And the other was when we went to this one store and found some super crazy T-shirts. This picture isn't the craziest shirt, but one that I was considering getting. I decided against it, sadly. Picture time! 
This is my missionary family history, and I am the proud continuation of the first-born line. I'll probably train, so I'll be able to pass it on even further. 

This was one day of pollen build up. Yup, welcome to North Carolina. Shockingly, I haven't had any issues with allergies from that. 

Here's that random cow

And that shirt

How I wanted to spend Conference. The Young Women left a random tent set up. 

One of my Zone Leaders took more pictures than I thought he would 

​And here's our district. Yes, I am holding a bag of Golden Puffs. It's important. Don't ask why. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

26 March 2018

No, the title has nothing to do with this email. But, today was an interesting week. I went on two exchanges (for those of you who are unfamiliar with what those are, it's where one of the missionaries leaves his comp for 24 hours and works with one of his leaders instead so that the leader can tell how they're doing.) and both were fairly interesting, though the first one was much more so. I stayed in my area with my Zone Leader coming out to mine. We spent a pretty good amount of time knocking doors and found some... interesting people. One of them we now refer to as "Salt Demon Lady." Basically, she told us that she had put salt all around her house and in the windows in order to keep out the demons, as well as typing out some scriptures and putting those over all of the thresholds in her house. She said that if someone had a demon, they wouldn't even cross the salt, even though they wouldn't know that it was there. We were already in their house talking to her and her husband, so clearly we were demon-free. She then asked us if we were comfortable, and we said yes. She then said that if a demon had made it over the salt and past the scriptures, they would feel incredibly uncomfortable inside, and so if we felt comfortable, we were went of God. For whatever reason, that didn't make her want to listen to our message. Go figure. Also, she left multiple open Bibles around her house and said that she might have a demon still because they kept on closing over and over again. It just made me wonder why she would go to all that effort if it doesn't work if she actually has one in there... Another contact that we made was also pretty interesting. Basically, he accused Elder Hall (my zone leader) of not being enthusiastic enough and asking questions. Elder Hall is probably the most enthusiastic person I know, so I don't know what was going on there. And the reason that asking questions was bad to him was because the "Bible is all answers and no questions" and that "Paul didn't ask any questions." This kind of irked Elder Hall, and when we got back to the apartment he started looking in the Bible to find where Paul asked questions. He does, plenty of times. Fun fact: the first thing that Saul says after he is first called Paul is a question. (Acts 13:9-10) Then, the next day, I went on exchanges again with my district leader. We walked a lot that day, and visited a whole bunch of people. It was pretty good. The rest of the week wasn't too exciting, mostly just knocking doors still. I don't know why, but it is just super hard to find people in this area who actually want to listen to us. It's pretty crazy, and I half am hoping that I get transferred. We'll see, maybe we'll find someone really great and then I'll really want to stay!

These aren't just regular post it notes... these are EXTREME post it notes!

Monday, March 19, 2018

19 March 2018

This week we had a few special meetings. The best one was on Saturday when we got to meet with Elder Rasband. We had to go to Apex by 9 in the morning, an hour and a half drive. We had to get up even earlier in order to make it. I don't know where to find the picture that we got to take with him, but I'm sure it'll eventually make it up on the North Carolina Raleigh Mission Share Facebook page. He gave a really great talk, and a lot of it was about how we should be more sure of what we're doing and rely more on the Spirit to guide us, and how we can never know the result of our work sometimes until way later. Also, he talked about the "whiners" that there are in each mission sometimes about where we get assigned to for our mission or transfer to transfer. He emphasized how all of it is done by revelation and how if we complain about where we end up going, or have a "dream mission" in the back of our minds, we are mocking God. It was super awesome, and we got the opportunity to shake his hand on the way in. Elder Costa also gave a really great talk on how we need to ask God to find out if these things are true or not, and how a testimony from God is super important. We also got to hear from him (Elder Costa) again on Sunday twice. We had a choir practice (we got roped into being part of the branch choir that was organized 5 days before stake conference because we had almost no warning) and he came in and talked to the branch in Spanish. It turns out that the Spanish of a Brazilian is way easier to understand than that of someone who grew up learning Spanish. He put a lot of emphasis on Family Home Evening, praying as a family, and studying the scriptures together. Another really great talk. It was really funny because our mission president was sitting in on it and he doesn't speak any Spanish at all.
Aside from all that craziness, there wasn't too much that went on this week. We got stood up at just about all of our lessons, but we had a cool one where we got invited in and taught a really awesome Restoration and they were really excited. Aside from that, it's not been exciting. Sorry. Picture time! 

Elder Woolums (someone I served around) and I before the meeting with Elder Rasband. We had the entire mission there.

Throwing it back to the day that I got out here with my trainer.

After our talk with Elder Costa. (This is the majority of our branch, not just the choir. The choir is about 10 people.) Elder Costa is in the first row, furthest to the right.

Monday, March 12, 2018

12 March 2018

I must say, the thing I miss most about living in Arizona is being able to wake up on one of the Daylight Savings days... At the same time as the day before. I didn't have to worry about changing all of the clocks in the house, sleeping in or waking up way too early because I forgot to change my alarm clock, or having my sleep schedule thrown off for the next week. But, out here it still is an unfortunate reality. So on Sunday we woke up and got to experience the wonders all over again. Anyways, on to how my week actually went. (By the way, if I say anythings that need clarification, shoot me an email and I'll be glad to clear it up for y'all.)
On Monday after PDay was officially over (6 o'clock) one of the members canceled the Family Home Evening that we had. So, we decided to go out knocking. Well, in the three hours we had left, we found 5 NI's! It was awesome! It really helped me realize the importance of working hard, even when you might not have very much time to do so. This has probably been the best week we've had out in Raeford. Funny story about tracting, though. We have the one apartment complex that is just absolutely MASSIVE (I'm talking 87 buildings with a minimum of 6 apartments per building, most of them with 8) that we've been tracting out because it's close and we can find a decent amount of HIspanics there. Got to save those miles! Anyways, we're knocking it at night when it was really dark and we meet this one person from Puerto Rico. He was really nice, and the step-dad of someone we'd found last week. So we start talking to him, and all of a sudden his entire life story comes out. I don't know why, but people seem to think that these random 19 year olds are the people who are okay to tell your darkest secrets. Well, this man in particular has more than your average person, due to him having been one of the largest drug dealers in Puerto Rico. Apparently he had to flee here when the threats to his life got too severe, which is why he's living in just some apartments. This was about 15 or so years ago as best as we can tell, but he left behind a huge house with "4 cars and 2 motorcycles." His brother and dad are keeping it safe until he plans to return, but he's still too worried about it. Fun times. Then about ten minutes later, somebody refused to open the door and said that she was going to call the police. We found out why a few minutes later when someone told us to be safe because of how this was a really dangerous area. Now, my companion had said that it was a really ghetto area, but it certainly wasn't the worst place I'd knocked. Then, in another few doors, we had someone tell us to be safe and either leave or carry on us because of the many shootings and drug deals that went down in the area. Naturally, we thanked him and kept on knocking. (Sorry, Mom! You thought you finally had a missionary staying safe!) Nothing else happened that night, except for a two-minute swinging break. My companion has this thing about needing to swing at every park that we knock around. So we did that for a minute, then headed home because it was time to go. 
The only other big thing that happened this week was an awesome lesson. We stopped by a less active's house and not only was she there, but so was her boyfriend who isn't a member! Even better, it turns out that they were talking about coming to church the very same day we came by! He said that he was interested in learning more about what we believe, and so we got to teach him the Restoration. It was awesome, and he had a lot of really great questions. He couldn't make it to church on Sunday, but he said that he would read in and pray about the Book of Mormon. We're super pumped to see how well it goes! 

That's all for this week, time for some random pictures! 

Just a throwback to my first day, yesterday was my six month mark of being in field!

We have to walk quite a bit around here.

And then just another picture of my first day in field, my first trainer pre-destroyed collarbone.

Monday, March 5, 2018

5 March 2018

So that title was the coolest thing that I heard all of this week. We were knocking doors and we shared part of the Restoration with her, and when I was talking she cut me off and just looked at me and said, "De donde eres?" (Where are you from?) "De que pais?" (From which country?) When I told her that I was from the US, she looked impressed and asked where I had learned my Spanish. When I told her that I had learned it in North Carolina, and in only seven months (yeah Mom, I've been out that long! It's flying!) she was impressed but confused. I was confused as to why she was confused, but that's not important. That's one of the weird things about Spanish work, you pick up things about different countries that they say. For example, I've been told that I have a Venezuelan accent, I use Mexican sayings/phrases, and that I'm so white that I have to be from Puerto Rico, Spain, or the Dominican Republic. So I'm a bit of an strange person to meet for Hispanics. But getting that reaction for the first time was pretty awesome. At least I know that my whole 7 months of Spanish is starting to really click. For a while I forced myself to have every conscious thought in Spanish, and that helped. I still have some random times when I think in Spanish. It's pretty great, but sometimes I'll be thinking and then I have to stop because I can't think of the word in either language. It gets rough.
On Wednesday we got a call from our branch president's wife to ask us to set up the headsets for translation for the Young Women's New Beginning thing, but we wouldn't have to translate, because the same member who was feeding us that night was going to translate. Well, the member called and canceled on both. So we went dinnerless and got to translate for that. It wasn't too bad, but I'm the one who does translations from English to Spanish. I can do that just fine, but if you want me to go the other way around, I suddenly can't understand Spanish. It's weird. So that goes to my companion. But I was in the middle of translating and they said the word "colors." Not a problem, right? Basic word, something you learn in your first week of Spanish. Somehow I forgot it, and just said the first word that came to mind. The English one would have worked, because most understand at least a fair amount of English, but my brain decided that if it couldn't use the right foreign language, it would at least use one. So I used the German word. Probably went right over the heads of everyone there. Whoops. But other than that I did just fine. There wasn't a whole lot else that went down that was unusual this week. Well, we did bring the sacrament to a member yesterday who had back surgery and when we were leaving, his wife gave us a "house warming gift." We have absolutely no idea why, but now I am the proud owner of a brand new towel set. I'm not going to turn that down. For whatever reason, missionaries get offered the weirdest things. Also this week, I was offered a free puppy. Again. Actually, this time I was offered 8. People just love giving us stuff. Unfortunately, having a pet is against mission rules, so I had to turn them down. But they were great, and super tiny. Probably not even ready to give away yet. 

And then just a random fire truck parked in the Walmart parking lot across a whole bunch of spaces. The one in the cab was making faces at me when I took this, but you can't see him.

Monday, February 26, 2018

26 February 2018

So yes, we are now officially a Facebook mission. We have the training, and the capacity. The funny thing was, my phone troubles continued. It works, but for whatever reason, my phone had not been given permission to use Facebook yet, so I got to spend some time with the lovely folks at customer support to get it working. Still, it is to be used for missionary work, so I won't be responding to anyone's posts, unless they're a comment on one of mine. And even then, I am going to be limiting that. So my Monday email is still going to be the big way I communicate. Yup, we're moving up in the technology world. Though in terms of the work, not much got done this week. Monday we had interviews, which took 3 hours longer than they should have (President James loves to talk), Tuesday was our P Day, and Wednesday we had another Zone Conference to train us on how to use Facebook. Really, it's all common sense. They gave us time for Q&A, which is what really took up a ton of time. Never let people who haven't touched a smartphone in two years ask questions about them. It'll go on forever, and drive you crazy. So all we had to work was Thursday through Sunday, and those were mostly a lot of knocking. Saturday was when it got really interesting. So, we had Stake Conference, the adult session. Now, the member who usually translates wasn't there, so we had to. At first we thought that we had weaseled out successfully, but then someone from our branch showed up five minutes late and so we had to do it. I was really nervous because I tried to translate from Spanish to English before on the headsets, and couldn't do it. Not a word. I put on the headset and it all turned to gibberish. And I thought that it would be even harder from English to Spanish. However, I put on the headset, and it was actually really easy. So much nicer than the other way around. So that was pretty cool. Aside from that, pretty slow week. We spent about three hours knocking doors yesterday, and no one wanted to listen to us. But hopefully we'll have more success coming up here soon. 
Well, we won a pie for having one of the two cleanest apartments in Fayetteville Zone. That was pretty great. We weren't expecting it, but I won't complain.

This is how you can tell that you have a bunch of missionaries in one place. All of them in pull-through parking, and they're (almost) all Toyota Corollas with bike racks. Well, I guess we have a lot of Chevy Malibus too. But this is 6 Corollas and one Nissan Altima. It get's easy to tell who the missionaries are by the car.

(Feeling like Chancellor Palpatine in Revenge of the SIth here...)

You have to love signs out here in the South. If you can't read it because it's both sideways and blurry, it's a fire department sign that says, "Honk if you love Jesus. Text and drive to meet him."

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

20 February 2018

No, no actual deaths. However, we did attend a dying missionary's funeral. That's the last district meeting that a missionary has before going home. This week we had Elder Kimber (a zone leader) and a senior couple who are going home. So, it was actually a triple funeral. And because of it, a pretty fun district meeting.
No, I don't know why this one is upside down. I fixed the other, but was too lazy to fix this one. This is Elder Kimber dying.
Elder and Sister Brown dying.
And the required district picture. A strange group of people. Basically, district meeting was the only big thing that happened this week. Right afterwords, we had exchanges with the zone leaders, which is why they were at our district meeting in the first place. That was pretty fun. We found a tiny fire hydrant in a trailer park, where we also found some really promising people. We have some appointments with them coming up tomorrow, as well as with our best investigator tonight. Hopefully things will pan out and we'll start to really get work rolling out here. 
​And this one is sideways, again I don't know why. The computer is being weird today. I tried to take a picture of the zone leader taking a selfie with it because it was funny, but it didn't save. And the last bit of news is that I'm in and out of the hospital with even more frequency than before the mission, and my family knows that was pretty often. Usually around once a year, but it's been slowing down. Mostly it was just crazy allergic reactions to something or another that we could never figure out. But out here, it's not for my own illness, it's people in our branch. One sister has been in and out of the hospital for about a week now, and they have no idea what's causing her problems. We ended up going to visit her on Wednesday and on Sunday, in what were for her two separate visits to the same hospital. We're really hoping that they find out what's wrong and that she gets better. The frequency that I've been to that hospital is enough where I get recognized by the desk staff. But yes, other than this it's been a fairly normal week, other than it being in the 80's for a couple of days. That was weird. And then two days later it was back in the 40's, and we're on the rise again.  We're having transfers next week now that I think about it, and so I'm probably getting moved again. So far I'm in my 4th transfer in my 4th area with my 5th companion. The way this works is a little weird. Now, new missionaries ALWAYS stay in their first area for two transfers because of training. But that didn't happen for me because my trainer and I had that lovely little bike accident. And so I went to area #2 with companions #2 and #3. Normally, the recently trained missionary stays in that same area for transfer #3 so that they get the experience of taking over an area fully. But my old area got shut down due to lack of Spanish speaking Elders (5 went home that transfer, a huge loss when you only have 20 total.) and so I got moved to another area. And then that area was getting switched to Sisters, so we got double transferred out. And now here I am, one week away from possibly getting moved again. Honestly, I'm kind of hoping that I get moved again just to keep the streak going. You never know, though. If I don't get moved, that'll mean that I don't have to pack! Which would be awesome! And I get to stay with people I've been working with! Even Better! I'll find out Saturday night, but y'all have to wait till Monday! Bye!