May 30, 2011

Nicaragua Week 2

Here's the email we got this afternoon after Alexis' fun outing to the beach with her zone. 

Hola - we had a good week this week. And we should have a baptism on Saturday. I am very excited for my first one. It is a man, and his daughter should be getting baptized the next week. We are working hard and I am learning my way around the town. The members are really fantastic. They go out with us a lot and we enjoy working with them. Yesterday we went out with the relief society president (or in spanish Presidente de la sociedad de soccoro? not sure if I spelled that right but president of the society of succor) and her daughter. The daughter served her mission in El Salvador East. They are both really nice and I enjoyed being with them. Also in their house they had an english efy cd (I think the one elena and I went to) and that was fun to hear. Later that night we went on splits with the rs president and the branch president´s wife and daughter. I went with the rs pres and I did pretty well I think. I was able to share a scripture and short message and she filled the rest. Really, missionary work is like full time visiting teaching. We just go to visit after visit. I could understand most of what she said and when I didn´t I just smile and that usually works. It has rained hard a couple of times, so I have used my coat and boots. But the boots, I put on after it had rained thinking it would rain again, but it didn´t so I pretty much looked foolish for the part of the day I wore them. It was good though. Yeah, so today we rode the bus about 30 minutes and met up with the rest of the zone. Then we took another bus about 45 minutes to the beach. It was fun and I just wrote letters and listened to the waves. The elders played some soccer on the beach. There was a guy who came and talked to me, but really just wanted to be my boyfriend. One of the elders said he seemed drunk. He was pretty crazy! But we had a good time anyway. Then we rode the bus back to the place we met the zone and ate at this pizza place. It was pretty good and they had fresca to drink. But here it is not diet, but it was good. Then we came back here. Anyway, it was good to get out and see some of Nicaragua and the Pacific Ocean.  I am enjoying it here and it is starting to feel like home. The food is good - a lot of beans and rice. I usually ask for a poquito (small) portion because otherwise it is way too much. It is good. We eat alot of platano ( similar to banana). It is kind of potato like and tastes like french fries when they fry it. We tried the food of el salvador the other night - pupusas. They were good. Kind of a filled tortilla. So that should be good for Tanner.  Happy Memorial Day- I think that it is today. I would have loved to watch the PBS special with you - I guess 2013 will do. And Happy Mothers Day. Today it is mothers day here.  I didn´t get a haircut last week and didn´t have time today, so hopefully next week. The one sister recommended a place but said it was kind of expensive 50 cords ( that is like $2.50).   Anyways, I am trying to think of what else to tell you.  Life is good here. We work hard but it is good. It will be nice to see some results on Saturday at the baptism.  I am excited to read my letters I got today in more detail. I just skimmed them before because I wanted to write letters and I should do that during pday. I can read whenever. Thanks for the package.  Well, I think I will send this and read your emails in more detail. I will look forward to getting them on dearelder too. Hopefully this week. Thanks for being so good with the mail. Well, have fun at the stake youth conference elena. I am sure it will be a good time. And, that is cool about Monson´s mission call to Chile.  Any way I think that is about it here from masatepe. Sorry I wrote so late today. Thanks for being the bestest people on planet earth. I love you all tons and miss you too, but that will make our reunion so much greater. Have a fantastic week and I will look forward to more mail. Love you lots, Alexis

UPDATE ON ALEXIS' ADDRESS...she says this will work better for regular mail.
Hermana Alexis Cottam
Apartado Postal 3527
Managua, Nicaragua

May 23, 2011

Email & Pictures from Nicaragua

It was so exciting to hear from Alexis today! She is just starting her second week in Nicaragua and with a little extra email time was able to tell us lots.
So I am here in Nicaragua. We left the CCM on Monday at about 1 and had a 5 o’clock flight to El Salvador and then Nicaragua. Most of the missionaries leaving the CCM went to El Salvador and then on to Honduras. It was super cool because me and the 3 sisters going to Nicaragua got to be in first class both flights, so that was sweet. President Monestel and the a.p.s picked us up and took us to McDonalds which was super sweet too. President Monestel also gave us each a yellow rose when we got there which was nice and reminded me of mom. We stayed the night at a hotel and then had training the next day. That afternoon we went out with the other sisters and I stayed the night in Nagarote with Sister Hernandez. Nagarote is supposed to be the cleanest city in Nicaragua. It was still dusty, but there was not a lot of trash. Then the next morning we came back to Managua which was like an hour on a bus for the transfer meeting with all the missionaries being transferred. The new ones and the ones leaving bore their testimonies. Also, one of the other trainers, Sister Dopp, remembered me and Elena from BYU Hawaii. She worked at the Seasider with her sister and remembered that we came often for ice cream. Small world. Anyways, I am here in Masatepe. It is about an hour out of the city and is really great. It is not so hot here. And it is the rainy season, but it only really rained yesterday. My companion is Sister Rapalo from Honduras. She has 9 months in the mission. I will be here with her for at least 2 transfers and then who knows where. There are also 4 other elders in Masatepe. There is a bank and a Pali which is the Walmart owned store here, but no fast food places or anything like that. It is great though. The people are nice and the members are helpful. My companion is new here so we have been trying to meet the members and investigators since we got here. We got here at the perfect time since there is a new chapel here that was dedicated yesterday. It is beautiful.  We eat at the branch president’s house for lunch and dinner every day and they do our laundry too. The branch here is quite big. They have around 150 attending. We were supposed to have some baptisms this Saturday, but they did not come to church so hopefully next week. There were like 20 investigators at church, 5 of which were ours so hopefully we will make some progress with them this week and have some baptisms in June. The ward mission leader is very helpful and has gone out with us every day almost, for several hours. That is really helpful since addresses here are like 150 yards north of such and such and 1 km east. Crazy! We visited a lady yesterday that has a daughter on a mission where my companion is from but she is not a member. We had a member with us too that has a daughter serving too. Hearing from them made me realize that this is just as hard for the people we leave behind as it is for us. Maybe not physically, but in other ways. I love you all so much, but I am settling in here and adjusting. I hope I get to be in Masatepe for a long time because the food is good and the people are great. We eat a lot of beans and rice and carbs, but it is good and I enjoy it. We eat with the elders here too, 3 of which are from the states, so I have some people I can speak in english to.  So today we have until 6 to do p-day stuff. We are going to get some stuff to clean with, buy some food for breakfast, clean the apartment, write some letters and go to the post office. I will just send it regular mail, so I heard it can take 2 or 3 weeks or more. Thanks for the pics. I got to show the Steimles the Green’s picture which was nice. Oh, the mission has a blog now too. It is something like It is like 15 cordobas for the internet for the hour and 15 minutes which is like 50 cents. We get an hour for writing our family and 15 minutes for the president. Stuff is super cheap here for the most part. There are some little 3 wheeled taxi scooter things that we have ridden out to the far part of our area and it was like a dollar each way for 4 people. Anyways, the best way to describe it here is like living in the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland. Our house it not like that but for some people it is. Most have running water sometime during the day and electricity, but there are some that don’t. We have running water and electricity. We also have a tank of water in the back so when there isn’t water coming at certain times of the day we still have water.  We have a little fridge and a sink for the kitchen. We don’t need anything else since we eat out for lunch and dinner. Anyway, I’m doing great here. Oh and wish me luck on my first Nicaraguan hair cut today. I will let you know how that goes next week. I love hearing from you and was excited to email today. Thanks for being the coolest people on planet earth. I love you all and am happy here especially when I am working.

May 18, 2011

Nicaragua Arrival!

Alexis arrived in Nicaragua!  A brief email from the mission president's wife (although in spanish) told us that Alexis is safely at her mission and has a new companion.  We are looking forward to hearing from her next Monday when she will email us.  They included this picture of the new sisters that traveled there with her on Monday.

May 11, 2011

Last week in Guatemala!

It was so fabulous to talk to Alexis on Mother's Day!  It was only 15 minutes but it was so great to hear her voice and about how well she is doing.  Here's her last email from Guatemala.  She'll head to Nicaragua on Monday.

So Hola- It was so fantastico to talk to you on Sunday. Happy Mothers Day! It was Mothers Day here yesterday always the 10th of May and I heard in Nicaragua it is a different day so we will see next year when I get to call. I can't believe the next time I call I will be half way and Elena will have 6 months already done. CRAZY! Thanks for being the awesomest people on planet earth. It was so good to hear your voices.  So, last time to the temple today for 16 months. Crazy. I have not decided if I want to do it in english or spanish. I am thinking english, but we will see when I get there. I can't believe on Monday it will already be two months. Super cool. These last 3 weeks have gone by fast, and I am sure it will go faster when I get to Nicaragua. I am excited to get out there, but it is a little nerve wracking to think I will be out of the routine of the CCM and not be around tons of missionaries, but it is going to be awesome. We had a devotional last night with Elder Clarke who is the president of the area. It was great and he said that a happy missionary is one who loves the people. Some missionaries start that on day one and some never get it. I want to be one who starts out that way. He also focused on being exceptional, diligent, and industrious. I really enjoyed it. On Monday all 38 missionaries and a couple of teachers rode the public bus down to the central plaza and did some proselyting. I enjoyed it. We got our 8 contacts we needed on the plaza, except I am not sure that they will be able to find some of the people with the addresses we got, but whatever. Mom would not have liked all the pigeons in the plaza but it was quite the experience on the bus. On the way there the bus was empty when we got on but got more crowded as we went into town. The people were probably wondering why there were so many missionaries there, but it was good. On the way back I sat next to a stranger and contacted him and gave him some pamphlets and got his address. He left and a lady sat down and I did the same thing. They both seemed fairly interested and they read the pamphlets as we rode. I asked the lady if she had any questions and she said she reads the Bible a little but had not heard of Joseph Smith before. I testified to her that he was a prophet and that the missionaries would tell her more when they came. I did this in spanish all by myself. I was quite proud of myself. And the lady marked one of the scriptures in the pamphlet so that made me think she was actually interested. I will never know what will happen, but I was glad I talked to the people and felt successful. So that was the exciting things for this week. Last week the doctor came and gave us some directions and that was good to get a more tailored presentation for the area. I had the same thing in Provo, but it was for all the missionaries. I know that I can stay healthy if I am careful and take care of myself.  I am having a good time with my companions. They are both super tiny, but are great.  One is about the same size as Annika.  She is super cute.  Funny thing, yesterday our teachers had the elders tie themselves together because they don't stay with their companions. It was pretty entertaining.  I love you all and will email from Nicaragua next week. I don't know when, but I will when I can.   And I haven't got any mail yet this week. Hopefully some dear elders today. Love you tons.  Tell Tanner and Tucker good luck for me. I know they will be fantastic missionaries. We are always taken care of as missionaries. We have angels watching over us.   I think Grandma Laurel and Grandpa Mullen are watching over me and getting the people of Nicaragua ready for me. I think the scripture is D&C 84:88.  I am doing great!   I know I am doing what I should be. Love, Alexis

May 4, 2011

Guatemala...less than two weeks left

It's been a fabulous week getting two week's worth of mail from Alexis and getting a call from Guatemala to tell us we could call her on Mother's Day!  We can't wait!!!  Here's this week's email.

Hola- It has been a good week with my new companions. I have two companions Hermanas Godoy and Lucas. Hermana Godoy is from El Salvador and Hermana Lucas is from Guatemala. She is going to Guatamala South and Hma Godoy to Honduras. They are super nice and put up nicely with my spanish. Both were the YW presidents before they came. They both just turned 21 on the 23 and 27 of April. Hma Lucas went through the temple the same day she came to the CCM. Anyway they are super sweet and I enjoy working with them. Sometimes I don't understand what they say but I just nod or have them say it again. Being in a district of Latinos is good and fun. Sometimes I have no idea what they are saying but they are nice to me and help me out. Last week we went to the temple and did a spanish session. It was good. I am assuming we are doing the same today since I have Latina companions. There are a few missionaries going through for the first time today so that is exciting. There are 38 of us, 13 sisters and the rest elders. It is good to be a smaller group. I am glad you got to talk to Sister Lopez about the phone call on Sunday. I am super excited!  I think we get like 15 minutes. It will be good to talk to you. I cannot believe I have just over a week left. Crazy!  So we had a great devotional last night. It was a tape from Elder Bednar at a MTC devotional in Provo. He told us to stop worrying about whether we think our thoughts are the spirit or our own. As long as we are being good girls and boys, we will be guided. He told us a cool story about him as a missionary in Germany giving 20marks? to Elder Packer for a train ride and how 20 years later he found out those 20 marks got Elder Packer and his wife through East Germany. He said Elder Packer told the story in a BYU Idaho devotional, so you might want to look it up. The MTC devotionals aren't out in the public but you could probably find that one. I think it is called the 20 mark note. Anyway, real cool.  So the Gunnell's nephew is here as one of the new north americans. And on Wednesday when we went to the temple the Hebers remembered it had been my birthday, so that was nice. I talked to the Steimles about Kerry and he wanted to know if Kerry was still skiing. He took him skiing his first time I think. Also the mail situation, I got your envelope with the ward newsletter last Thursday and the dear elders from the 24th. Yesterday I got my birthday card from Mary and I am hoping to get some dearelders today or tomorrow. I don't know if you want to start sending stuff to my mission though. I probably would get dearelders next week if all goes as usual, but whatever you think.  Sorry this is kind of discombobulated. I write things down to remember so I can get everything in. It is going well here. I am excited to get to Nicaragua though too.  I don't have tons of letter writing time today, so I will try to get as many done as I can. Thanks for being so awesome. I love you all so much and am doing great. Have a Happy Mothers day before I talk to you. I can't wait! Love, Alexis