Monday, November 28, 2011

Hola from Hermana, 28/11/11

Hola mi familia!  :)

Estoy muy agradecida!  It's been a great week.  I'll see how much I can get through in the time I have left.  :)

Because mail is so sketchy, we've been told we can email friends!  Please post my email on Facebook and if other people need it, please send it to them via email, not on my blog.

I love President and Sister Bautista.  They are both very kind and inspired. 

My new companera is Hermana S, from Nicaragua.  I'm so grateful to have a Latina trainer!  I'm with her for three months (two transfers), and we are using the new three month training program the Church produced, which includes guidelines and resources for what to study and what goals I should be meeting. Hermana S is very patient with me, and has a gift for being able to explain simply and clearly when I don’t understand.  She often asks me for my opinion and what I want to do, includes me in planning and in teaching, and is happy and optimistic.  :)  I am grateful.  :)  We are in Quetzaltenango City.  

Wednesday through Saturday we spent five hours every day at the Queztaltenango Temple!  It is GORGEOUS!  We were at the end staffing tables with ~6 other Hermanas answering questions and helping people fill out comment forms that would all us to contact them later.  I had some really sweet experiences.  We handed out copies of The Living Christ and The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  Wednesday night before leaving for the temple I grabbed some pamphlets of the Plan of Salvation.  I gave a copy to the wife of a man filling out a comment form, and she started to read it.  About 15 minutes after they left, they RETURNED and asked if I had another copy, which I gave them.  The Spirit was so sweet and strong.  I am so grateful for them and for the guidance of the Holy Ghost. 

Yesterday we taught the first lesson to Candi, a single mother who lives with her brother Leonardo and their parents, Leonardo and (?).  She accepted our baptismal invitation, and we extended Viernes Dec 16 for the date.  She was excited because it is her birthday!  I was grateful to teach the First Vision part and extend the date part of the invitation, and very grateful Candi was blessed with the gift of understanding in tongues with my English!  :)  We had thought her whole family would be at the lesson, and hope to teach more of them this Jueves.

Finally, last night I had a sweet realization that I'm going through a process similar to what I'll be asking all our investigators to do: stop doing that which is keeping me from doing the work of Christ (English), and diligently do that which will enable me to work for Christ (Espanol).  I'm grateful I can ask God for the same divine help I promise our investigators.  

Suggestions for incoming missionaries:
--Quetzaltenango is COLD.  At night the temperatures are similar to Wyoming when we went camping.  Cement houses retain the cold throughout the day.  At night I wear socks, sweats, long-sleeved shirt, my red sweater, my gloves, and my ski hat.  The little blanket from Deseret Book doesn't help a whole lot: I use a thick flannel blanket and another Spiderman fleece blanket from the mission.  I'm also going to buy another blanket today because I've been told it gets even colder Dec-March.  Hermana S and I are opening an area with two other Hermanas, and our apartment was new: no blankets.  The first night I was freezing.  So, I would suggest that incoming missionaries bring their own pillow and blanket (if possible).  I was also really grateful for the cans of beans Mom sent me because it was a couple days before we bought food.  For Hermanas, bring multiple tights.  I wear them every day, and will probably buy a third pair of wool tights.  It gets really cold after about 6 pm, when it gets dark.  The wind also blows a lot, and Hermanas with "shorter" (knee length) skirts have problems... While it would have been nice to fit everything in the two medium bags I brought, I’ve decided to purchase a big duffle bag to replace one of my hardshells.  I hadn't expected to receive so many books in the MTC (a full third of a half of one of my suitcases), and I am ALWAYS going to take both my little blanket and new blanket and my pillow with me in future transfers.  

Mom, I have felt all your prayers.  I've felt the sweetness of the Spirit often and unexpectedly throughout these past few days, and last night I understood that it was because of all the prayers being offered for me.  That means so much.  I can't thank you enough.  I love you!

I testify Jesus Christ LIVES!  He has established His church once again on the earth, with all the ordinances and covenants necessary to return to live with Him and our families forever!

I love you!

--Hermana Ivy [-]

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hola de Hermana, 22/11/11

Hola mi familia! 

I head out to the field tomorrow!  So many mixed emotions.  All but one elder from my district left at 1 pm today for their respective missions, and I feel a bit like I just got separated from my family.  When my latina companera came back to give me hug before she left, I had one of those heart-crack moments where I just started sobbing.  I’ve felt very tender since then.  I’ve grown to love and respect my district so much, and my latina companera (Hermana H).  What has been comforting has been the thought that I can always increase in love!  I’ve grown to love much in just these six weeks--I can hardly imagine what 16 more months of service and learning and saving will do! 

On Friday we had all day training to prepare us to go to the field.  At the very end, our teacher talked to us about raising our vision.  He had a numerical sequence for how if every missionary contacted 10 people a day, with something like a 5 % conversion rate, about half a million people would be gathered in every year!  I felt the Spirit testify that this is truly the Lords work, and is of the utmost importance, and I felt the thrill of catching a glimpse of His work filling the earth.   If I could, I would shout from the mountain tops for young people to prepare themselves to serve in the Lords army starting NOW.  I would plead for married couples to evaluate and plan NOW for how they can prepare to serve as senior missionaries.  There is SO much work to be done, and there is so much that I wish I had done before coming!  Can you imagine how powerful entering missionaries would be if they had grown up practicing being missionaries in Family Home Evening, like teaching five minute lessons from Preach my Gospel, or practicing how to contact in FHE?  I invite you to evaluate how you can be a missionary now, and also prepare for service later, whether as a young elder or sister or as a couple! 

Finally, today we had a departure devotional from President and Sister Steimle (of the CCM).  I recommend you Youtube search a video by Nolans cheddar, about a rat trap and their motto "seriously strong".  It is so funny.  :) 

(here is the link, included by Ivy's brother:

They also should us a clip from the movie Facing the Giants called the Death Crawl.  It was so moving!  The Atonement of our Savior was an act of perfect love.  He has asked us to give him our hearts, and it is when we do so that He is able to work miracles through us!  I testify that Jesus Christ LIVES!  He is our SAVIOR!  He reestablished His church, as was on the earth anciently, through the prophet Joseph Smith.  The Book of Mormon is tangible evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet: you can read it and pray to God to know that it is true, and I promise that as you seek to know with a sincere heart with the intention to ACT on the witness you receive, you will receive an answer.  I testify that we have a living prophet today, Thomas S. Monson, who is the Lords watchmen on the tower.  I testify that you are a son or daughter of God, and He knows and loves you.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve.  I testify that the work of bringing others to Christ and enabling them to be saved and exalted through Gods ordinances and covenants is of crucial importance, and that we may participate in this work no matter what stage of life we are in.  I am grateful for my relationship with my Savior, and I am grateful that this Thanksgiving, I will be working to bring others to the same Tree of Life.

I love you!  I love you TONS! 

--Hermana Ivy [-]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hola de Hermana, 16/11/11

Hola mi familia fantastica!  :)

It has been a great week!  I’ll see if I can get most of what I want to say on here before tiempo runs out.  First, Mom and Dad, estoy MUY EMOCIANADA por su trip a Germany!!!  Have a BLAST!  And siblings, I hope you tell me about your adventures while they’re gone

I am leaving the CCM for the FIELD on TUESDAY!!!   (as such, I don’t know if I will get email time next week)  WHOA!  Time has flown!  I can hardly believe I only have 16 months left!  Gah!  I am trying to learn how to best use my time now.  One of the most enlightening moments from this past week is when one of teachers asked us if we’d accomplished our goals for the CCM, and I had this awful sort of realization of "I don’t know.  I didn’t set specific goals before coming here."  That was a MAJOR wakeup call.  And so now I am working to learn and apply how to better set inspired goals and make inspired plans so that instead of just working, I can be diligently focused on ACCOMPLISHING the PROGRESS I must make in order to be an effective instrument in the hands of the Lord.  A lot of thoughts that have touched me have been on this topic this week.  An Area Seventy authority came and talked to us last night, and he said that there are two ways to learn a habit, by obligation or through conversion, and it is ONLY through conversion that we will keep that habit through the rest of our lives.  One habit he talked about is the importance of setting daily goals, and than EVERY DAY following through by evaluating how we met that goal, and then planning for the next day.  This is a habit I want very much, and I commit to learning it by conversion so that I can apply it the rest of my life.  I invite you to do this too!

Mom, the elders and Hermana TOTALLY LOVED the bubbles you sent.  Bubbles have been floating in our classroom for a week now.  That and the Thanksgiving decorations have made our classroom chipper, and much more fun.  The elders love you.  :)

I was called on to give a talk on Sunday in Sacrament meeting.  When I got to the part about being patient with others and their weaknesses, I got choked up.  How on earth can we expect others to want to listen to us, representatives of Jesus Christ wearing His name, if we don’t act, live and love like Him?!  I testify that Jesus Christ lives, He knows you individually, He understands your trials, and He loves you.  We too must seek to understand, love, and help others.  I testify that as we sincerely seek for inspiration, we will receive it. 

A quote I loved from Preach My Gospel, "You can be certain the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you"

My favorite language bit from this week: we were walking up the stairs and it smelled like fish.  I told my companion, "It smells como pecados!"  And then we both collapsed in laughter.  It was hilarious.  :)


--Hermana Ivy [-]

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hola de Hermana, 9-11-11

Hola mi familia!  :)

Como estan?  Estoy muy feliz, porque grammar principios are beginning to click together and I’m learning so much.  :)  I know these emails are short, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have tons I wish I could tell you--its just days, weeks, and now these past TWO months all kind of run together, and I don’t know what to tell you,...  

One of the biggest wake up calls I had this week is we were in a meeting and the teachers played recordings of missionaries learning English, from very low ability to fully functional (though not fluent).  It was the most bizarre experience to listen to the low level missionaries, who are my age, who sound like 3 year olds.  I sound like a three year old when I speak!  And the reason I didn’t feel like a three year old in my French classes is because we were ALL, more or less, at the same level, so all us three year olds could understand each other!  So, so crazy!!!  Hehe, I’m pretty sure M le Prof never ever told us we sounded like toddlers...  He is awesome. 

That also brought a whole new light to the scripture "out of the mouth of babes".  I bore my testimony, en espaƱol, on Sunday.  The most rudimentary espanol ever, with hand gestures, and I struggled to communicate.  But the Spirit was so strong.  I testify that the Lord qualifies those He calls, that even though we are weak, simple, mortal, and totally not perfect, when we give Him our hearts He is able to use us to build His kingdom.  That the language of the Spirit breaches all barriers, even that of spoken language.

Please thank cousin Taylor and our other servicemen and service women for me. 

Hermana G and I are having an incredible experience being coordinating sisters.  Our responsibilities have included finding help for unlocking a bedroom door at 10 pm and another locked door two nights ago that resulted in a crowbar, screwdriver, hammer, and a door without a handle at 1015.  It was way funny.  Chiste! 

I LOVE YOU ALL TONS!  Testifico Jesucristo Vive!

--Hermana Ivy [-]

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hola from Hermana, 1-11-11

Hola mi familia! 

Surprise!  This week we're mailing today instead of tomorrow because we went to market today!  This also means I have no more preparation time other than maybe going to the temple tomorrow, and will probably not be able to write any letters!  Gah!  Lo siento! 

Yesterday your totally awesome package arrived!!!  I could hardly believe the cans of beans!  I’m pretty sure nobody else would have received anything like that.  Thank you!  H, the pumpkin note ROCKED (thank you!), bro, I can’t wait to really read the letter and symptoms of culture shock  (really!  :)  ), Dad, I loved your Thankfuls!  (That is something I never get tired of--your thankfuls), Mom THANK YOU for the note with encouragement and reminder to live NOW, and D, I would love to read a sample of your writing that makes people laugh!  (Dad mentioned it in his letter)  :)


Today we went to a market!  Some things were the same as in India (lots of small booths close together, stalls with gorgeous fresh fruit and burlap sacks full of grains, spices, BEANS, haha, goodies...)  Others were new and different: it was UNDERGROUND, and had GORGEOUS NATIVITY SETS  little figurines in small flatish bowls...  I hope to bring one home, they were gorgeous.  Some were carved from wood, others sewn from cloth.  Also really cool candle stalls, a rug maker...  I loved the sight of a small little boy sleeping on what resembled a yoga mat in a darker corner of a stall near a stack of brightly colored scarves. 

After the market we went to an upscale mall, big and Americanish with an awesome museum.  Dashed trough and saw Mayan artifacts.  Loved a small stone armadillo, learning that women used two bowls for cooking (one to mix and one to bake), a stone carving of a man that looked like he was sticking his tongue out, and small stone statues called "mushroom stones".  I feel the same way I do about the blunderbusses in India.  :) 

I can’t wait to really get to know the people here.  My teachers are so kind.  The Latinas are so humble, strong in testimony, and fun.  :)  Hermana G and I are the new coordinating sisters, so for the next three weeks we are in charge of watching over the 28 sisters!  Huge group coming in--well have 100 missionaries the next three weeks, and will be cramped. 

I’m starting to mispell in English.  I wrote "profet" the other day.

I loved a District testimony meeting we had Sunday.  My heart felt so full of gratitude as I listened to the Elders (all are 19 years old) and Hermana G bear their testimonies.  I am grateful they gave up what they were doing to take time to serve the Lord.  I know we are called to preach His gospel and invite others to come unto Him.  I know the Lord knows and loves us.  I know He is our Redeemer, and that through Him we can be cleansed from our sins, made whole and perfect, and return to our Heavenly Father to not only live with Him but to become LIKE Him! 

I LOVE YOU ALL!  Via con Dios!

--Hermana Ivy [-]