June 29, 2011

Hi from the MTC - Week 2

Hi again!  
I'm emailing early again this week since I just put my laundry in.  It's been a good week. We had the mission president's seminar, so there was the special fireside on Friday. There were 7 apostles there and Elder Bednar spoke. It was real good. I sang in the choir so we had good seats. I also got to meet my mission president which was great. There are 11 elders here that are going to my mission and then me and one of my companions. When we walked in the room the mission president's wife gave me and my comp a hug and said "mis hijas". She is super sweet. They said they would take good care of us.  She speaks good English and he speaks some too. We met them on Friday and then they had us meet again on Saturday because they forgot to take a picture.  It worked out because we hadn't brought our cameras on Friday night either. Our roomates left on Wednesday and we'll be getting 2 new ones today. The ones that left went to Mesa and will also work in the Visitor's Center, so if you see a Sister Anderson or Carlson ask them if they were my roomates. 
So our investigator we had the first week, it turns out is now our teacher.  We also have another new teacher.  It's a sister that served in New York.  I like them both.   Now we are teaching them part of the time in Spanish.   They play the role of an investigator they had on their mission or someone else so it seems more real than just making stuff up.  We do that too when are role playing.  We try to play someone we know and react how they would react.   We had a good lesson yesterday on revelation through prayer.   The managers of the other MTCs are here this week and we had some people observe us yesterday.  The lady from the New Zealand MTC also taught part of our class on Monday, so that was fun.   I ran into a couple people from Mt View and from BYUH.   A lot of people look familar but it's sometimes hard to place them. 
So I leave on the 7th.   We have to be at the travel office at 3 am.   We have a 6 am flight from Salt Lake to Dallas, then from Dallas to Miami, then Miami to Santo Dominigo.  Things are going great.  I can't believe that I'll be leaving in a week.   It's crazy.  Things are good here but it will be good to get to the DR.   I can't believe Alexis already finished one transfer.  Awesome.   I took pictures yesterday at the map and will order those today.   I am doing well here.   I know that this is what I need to be doing right now.   There really isn't any greater work. The MTC is a special place. Thanks for all the mail.   Love you tons.  -Elena

June 27, 2011

Elena's Pictures from Provo!

                                                            Elena sent a short note with her pictures from the Provo
                                                                             MTC.  She'll e-mail on Wednesday.
Hola familia!
Twas a real good day at the MTC.  I got your package- muchas gracias!  We also had a real good devotional.  I sang in the choir so we got good seats.  Elder Bednar spoke.  Also, Elders Anderson, Oaks, Scott, Ballard, Holland, and Nelson were there.  Pretty sweet to have over half of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles there.  I think I saw Elder Hinckley on the stand too.  And I saw one of my favorites, Julie B. Beck, in the crowd of general authorities.  I met my mission president & his wife.  They were super sweet and speak some English.  I got my travel plans!  We leave on July 7th.  It will be a full day of traveling through Dallas and Miami.  I guess that means our visas must have come through.  Anyway here's the pics!  Enjoy.  I love you all tons!
                                                             Love, Elena

Nicaragua - six weeks in!

I got here six weeks ago today! Crazy! One change(transfer) down and 11 more to go. The Latina sisters have 3 weeks in the MTC and 13 changes in the field. The North American sisters have 3 weeks and 1 change in the MTC and 12 in the field, so I will go home one change before the Latina sisters I came with. The Latino elders have a total of 17 changes and 3 weeks in the MTC. The North American elders have 16 in the field and 1 in the MTC. So, the elders are waiting to hear if they have changes. They find out today. My understanding is that I will be here at least one more change and then I don´t know what. The training is supposed to be twelve weeks. Anyway, we´ll see how it all works out.  Dad- you mentioned something about doing english classes here. A couple of weeks ago the elders said they were going to do some, but that hasn´t happened yet. Maybe after the changes this week. Some people are interested in them, so we will see. We did not have our baptism on Saturday. Yesterday, we were fairly unsuccessful at getting people to church. We did divisions with some members so I could invite the people that live around the church and my companion could go out farther to get a family. No one ended up showing at the beginning and I was just praying that someone would come. About 5 minutes before the meeting ended an investigator showed. We had talked to her on Saturday, but didn´t go by on Sunday. We had been visiting her family a lot the first few weeks we had been here. One of our other families that we have been teaching - the wife and daughters seem quite interested. The husband likes to talk to us and has lots of questions and knows the Bible really well.  When he is there we don´t get to teach a lesson we just end up answering questions (well, I don´t say much - my companion answers his questions and recites scriptures. She knows her stuff which is good.). So this week, we are going to try something different with him. We are going to go on divisions with the members and I will go to that family. I can teach the lessons, but I really can´t do much with his questions, so we are hoping that because I am the one there he won´t ask so many questions and we can teach them more of the real lessons. I will let you know how that goes. So, I was excited that with the mail on Saturday all the missionaries got conference Liahonas. And the North Americans´ are in English, so I am excited about that. I read Sister Stevens talk about becoming like children that was really good. I thought about the Greens and some of the qualities the kids have that I need to develop. It was a good talk. I was also reading this morning in Preach My Gospel in Lesson 5 about Missionary Work and Eternal Marriage (page 84). I liked how it said that when we share the gospel we enjoy lots of blessings and that we as members should always be looking for ways to share the gospel. I definitely could have done better with this before my mission. The members here are really good examples for me. Whenever we are with them and they see someone they know, they just introduce us to their friends and it is really great. Missionary work definitely brings happiness. It is a different happiness since I am not with you all, but it is good and I know that I am doing what I should be. I also like in Preach my Gospel in the marriage part that said heaven is a continuation of the ideal home. This makes me really happy to think about because I enjoy so much being at home with you all and if heaven is going to be like that ( and I believe even better) than that will be so awesome. Thanks for making our home so great. I love you all so much! I am doing really fantastic here. The work is going well and hopefully we will have lots of success in July.  Anyway, life is good here. I will write some other letters this afternoon. I love hearing from you all.  Love you all lots and lots. Love, Alexis

June 22, 2011

Greetings from Nicaragua!

Aloha- So that is really funny that Elena is in the same
district I was in. I was hoping that she would be and I told them to look for her. They will take good care of her. I want to hear more about her companion. Well, I am glad she is doing good and that will be cool to be at the MTC with all the new mission presidents and there will be some cool general authorities there too for that. I got to meet my president before I got here, but in Guatemala. That was fun to see them and know who you were going to meet up with when you got to the mission. Woah, on this computer the enter key actually works. So, we had the training on Monday and Tuesday. We took a minibus from here and it took about an hour. We had meetings all day at the stake center near the assistants to the president’s house. This is the same building we go to for the change meeting and the meetings you have when you first get here. The training was with 14 sisters and 3 elders. It was about the 8 lessons that are part of the missionary curriculum. I think this is fairly new. They teach them in the MTC and then again when you get here. It was a good refresher. We had Subway for lunch so that was good. For the evening the sisters went to the president’s house. It is really nice and the president of the north mission lives right next door. It is in a gated community kind of up on a hill in Managua. We had FHE and dinner there. It was fun to just relax and talk and get to know some of the other sisters. Then we stayed the night at the assistant’s house. They have enough beds there because that is where the new elders stay when they get here. It was cheaper to put the 6 office elders in a hotel than 14 sisters. It is a nice house and pretty big. I guess that is where we all would go in an emergency. Then we had training on Tuesday until about 1 and had lunch. Then we took the minibus back here and got back to work. I did really see a Cinemark here by one of the malls in Managua. Crazy! Oh, the president and his wife were telling us how their kids have learned English in the year they have been here. They go to a school where all their classes are in English. That would have been tough to come here and have school in another language, but it is cool now that they can speak English. What else happened this week? We had a couple good rain storms. On Saturday we were in a house and it started pouring. They have a pretty good drainage system for water here, except that when a lot of water comes at once the streets fill up. We crossed one street with almost knee deep water. I didn´t have my boots, but that was probably for the best because they would have been full of water. The black shoes are the best for getting wet and drying fast. I wear my boots too, but I haven´t timed it right and when I wear them it doesn´t rain and when I don´t it rains. One of these days I will get it right. No, but it was fun and I always enjoy a good rain. So, we contacted two old ladies on the street a few weeks ago and invited them to church. One said she was sick and I don´t remember what the other one said. They are friendly and one we have seen walking around. We followed her back to her house because we couldn´t remember where they lived. She could tell we were following her and I felt sort of like a stalker, but anyway. We talked to the other one at the house. She is 95 and lives alone and doesn´t have kids and was never married. We have gone back and taught her once and hopefully we will go back and teach her more. I really love these people especially these older ladies that are just so sweet. So, we have someone ready to be baptized Saturday. I guess he has been taught several times but now he really wants to change and has given up smoking and drinking coffee. I think the other set of elders has a baptism ready for Saturday. So for the mail situation, I haven´t got any this week, but definitely on Friday at the zone meeting if not sooner. You only need to put the Apartado Postal 3527 for mailing stuff to me not that other long thing. Thanks for being such good mailers. I enjoy getting real mail. Thanks for being the bestest. So I have some letters on my desk to mail from last week, but I didn´t get to mail them yet. I am not sure if I will get to next week or if we may have a zone activity. We have been doing more activity p-days than usual because our zone leader is going home next week. So you mentioned some giant Nicaraguan stamps. I haven´t seen them because I just take the letters and pay for them and then she puts stamps on them later. I guess I will see them when I get home. Life is good here. After seeing some of the other sisters and some that have been here longer, I have realized that I am doing quite well. Other than some bug bites, I haven´t had any health issues and I have adjusted well to the food too. It was weird eating more American things the last two days. I think I have done well at adjusting to life here and just going with the flow and accepting whatever comes my way. That is really just what you have to do or you could go crazy. Have a good attitude and know that all will work out - because it will! There are definitely better days than others and some days I could have a better attitude, but I really haven´t had a real bad day. So I am happy! Piano classes are going good. Still only one or two people and it is not your traditional music class, but it is fun to do. We have labeled the keys on the electric piano and they write the letters for the notes in their hymnals and then they just kind of figure it out. Whatever works! Love you all tons and thanks for being awesome. The gospel is true. Love, Alexis

Elena's 1st week at the Provo MTC


Hi from the MTC! So things are good here. It's hard to believe that's it's been a week here. In some ways it's gone by fast and others it seems like forever, but it's all good. I am in a good district. We have elders going to New Jersey, South Carolina, Argentina, and the DR and the sisters I'm with are going to the DR. I've seen Tanner and Tucker a few times here around the MTC which has been fun and also a few people from BYUH - one elder from my social dance class and Cherry from Thailand who is a teacher here. She thought I was Alexis since I think she had seen her when she was here. It is fun to be around all the missionaries here. So the schedule is pretty crazy. We're pretty busy and trying to get everything done. We teach a pretty good actor investigator almost every day in Spanish and we started the 2nd or 3rd day we were here. It's hard since we can't really respond very well yet to his questions and we try to understand what he is saying but it is coming along. My teacher is good and very nice. We have gym every day except p-day and Sunday and we've been going outside some of the time and played in the gym. We played baseball/softball yesterday which was fun. So, it is fun being in Alexis's branch. I had to pray in Spanish last night at our district meeting and after, the branch president said my Spanish was good just like my sisters. It is coming along. I sleep on the bottom bunk in my room and the residence halls are pretty nice. The food is good...lots of choices. It took me a couple of days to adjust and get my appetite back but I'm doing great now and eating good. And there is ice cream tonight! All the new mission presidents are arriving today I think and I think I get to meet mine on Friday. There is also a special devotional on Friday. The devotional was good last night. We had Paul Sybrowsky of the Seventy. It was good and he said that the 2000 missionaries here will convert 24,000 people which is about 8-16 stakes. Pretty awesome to think about. He said that this is the greatest work we will ever do since it will set the stage for our eternal life. I sang in the choir and we sang "Come Thou Fount" which was great. Well, I am just doing laundry here and typing away. Thanks for the mail. I also got DearElders from Aunt Mary and Marni.  The MTC is great. A sister in my zone had known Kim while she was here. There is no place on earth like the MTC and everyone should experience the spirit here. It is so fun to sing “Called to Serve” and “Army of Helaman” and other missionary songs with all of us here. I am doing good and am enjoying my time here. Chelsea said in her letter that the MTC is so sacred, so good. And it is. It is an adjustment with the studying and schedule and everything, but I am doing good. I know that this is the greatest work I could be doing right now, which is awesome. The Gospel's true. I hope you are doing well. Love you lots!!!!!! You guys are the best! Love, Elena

June 15, 2011

Elena's mission has begun!

We arrived at the airport around 5:45 a.m. this morning to see Elena off on her flight to SLC.  She will have lunch with her Grandma & Grandpa in Provo before they drop her off at the MTC.  We are so excited for her!

June 13, 2011

Nicaragua - I have now been here 4 weeks!

SO HOLA! Greetings from Masatepe! I just got a little letter from my mission president complementing my grammar from my weekly letters. He doesn´t respond often just because there are so many, so that was kind of exciting. Thanks for the mail.  Yeah, mail comes fairly reguarly. I didn´t get any last week, but that was only because the Zone Leader forgot to send the mail bag the week before. If they do send it I will at least get things at our meetings on Friday if not earlier like I did today.  I got it all this morning so that was fun.  Thanks for spoiling me tons with the mail. I love mail. So, next week on Monday and Tuesday the new missionaries and their trainers are having a training in Managua. So, I won´t be emailing on Monday, but I will email that Wednesday, so look for an email next Wednesday. Yeah, so last night the elders had me believing that I had to go to Managua today for immigration stuff. I will eventually, but they were just joking but I was fairly convinced. They just wanted to see how we would react to have 2 pdays in a row be taken over by other stuff. Luckily I didn´t have to go this week.  I will have more time this afternoon to write letters but they probably won't get mailed for a couple weeks.  So this week was good.
 We had a baptism Saturday of the daughter of the guy that got baptized last week. But Sunday was crazy because we had to redo it all again because there was some confusion with her name. That will be something for us all to remember. 

So, here's some food info: Breakfast is cereal. Lunch we have usually rice and beans and some kind of meat-chicken or beef usually. For dinner we have gallopinto, which is rice and beans combined and eggs or this fried cheese thing. The food is good. Last night we had fried bologna with our gallopinto. That was actually not bad. The refreshment of choice here at church activities is bologna sandwiches.  So in Masatepe they had this toro fest a couple weeks ago I forgot to mention. It was really funny to hear the word toro used in actual context. Anyway, I think there might be something this weekend too with the toros. We didn´t really see anything, but it was all the talk here.  That was interesting about Leah Brown´s twin sisters.  I am glad that me and Lenny are going to more similar places and both learning spanish. It is going real good here. It is interesting how some things in life happen where ever you are. Like there are a couple families that have a grandparent living with them and have to decide who will go to church since one needs to stay with him. And things in the church, like in every building there are always chairs being put up and being put down. Some stuff will never change and is just part of life. Well I am learning lots and having a good time. We had a good conference on Tuesday with the President and 2 other zones. It was fun to see one of the sisters I came with. I am teaching some people a little piano, and the other day I helped one of our investigators with her math homework. Who knew how hard it could be to explain things I know so well, in Spanish?  Its all good.  So, all the companionships of sisters have cell phones now and the elders who are leaders. It is kind of weird to have a phone, but it is convenient to call people when we are out and about. And, our hot water has been working so that has been real nice this week. Hopefully it will continue. The weather here is pretty good. It is one of the cooler places in the mission I hear. In the afternoons it is warm but I am not dying of heat or anything. We have fans in the apartment we have on at night, but it isn´t super hot all the time. Elena - in your letter you mentioned Mr. Vogl. When I excersise, I do jumping jacks in sets of 46. I am still brainwashed!  Well, thanks for being awesome.  Have fun these last couple days with lenny.  Lenny- really have an awesome time and you are going to be awesome.   I am so excited for you to get going so we can all be together again in 18 months. Can't believe I will be at 3 months on Thursday. Well, the gospel is true and I am happy I get to share it. This is a great work.   Love you all and miss you, but know that I am doing well.  Love you tons and I know you will be awesome.   Love, Alexis

June 6, 2011

Hola Nicaragua Week 3

Well, anyway life is good here except for my ghettoly short hair. Actually it is probably for the best since it is off the back of my neck. Where was Marni when I needed her?  Anyway it is fine and I guess I can wait quite a while to get it cut again.  So today we went with the zone again to Masaya to this prison place and to the market. I bought a couple of small things to send home which I will do next week.  I did have time to mail my letters from last week today so that was good. My fathers day note to dad and a birthday note to Grandma Harvey went out today. I doubt they will get there in time but whatever. Have you gotten any mail from me? So we had our baptism on Saturday. It was nice. Two people
were baptized, our convert and one from the elders. It was exciting to see and be excited for them.  Our convert's daughter should be baptized this Saturday. She needed to come to church one more time and good thing she came for a little while on Sunday even though her baby was sick or we would have lost her for this week. That was a blessing when she came in the door. Our convert and someone we taught yesterday called us angels from God. Our convert told us we were welcome anytime at his house. The other guy knows the Bible really well so hopefully we can help him come to church and accept the gospel. The people here are really happy people. We were in a lesson and the lady said that she is content with life. I was thinking how great that is and even though the people don´t live the same standard of living we do at home, they still find happiness and aren´t really concerned with the material things of life. They are just a happy people. I am realizing truly how much we have been blessed with, but that the material things aren´t what matter. It´s truly all about families and living in a way now so that we can live together forever in the Celestial Kingdom. That´s what it all boils down to. That´s all I want is to be with you 3 for eternity. Anyway back to life in Nicaragua, so it is rainy season and we have had a couple good storms. I have worn my boots but I need to time it better. Yesterday it rained right after church and I got my shoes wet. I changed to my boots when we got home and then it didn´t rain the rest of the day. That happened another time too. I need to guess better when to wear them. I have gotten a few compliments on them. I really like my raincoat. That was a good buy. A couple days this week we walked to the far part of our area. It was probably at least a 40 minutes walk and saved us each 10 cords or 50 cents. I am not sold completely on walking there all the time, yesterday we rode the bus and walked part of the way and a member with a car happened to pass by and took us the rest of the way. Anyway, one of the times it was really rainy. We were with a member and I was walking behind them and having a mental music fest. I was singing the girls camp song Friends We Are. Where we were was kind of like Camp Lomia with the dirt paths and the houses are sort of addi-like.   I thought you might like to imagine this. One of the nice things when we are out more in the jungle like part of the area is the fresh mangoes that we pick up. We peel them with our hands and eat some scrumpcious mangoes. This week I had 2 piano classes. Hopefully we can get some more people coming, especially investigators, so it will be more productive. I just need to remember to go slow and not teach too much at once. I also need to practice more music words in spanish so I can explain things better, but it went alright. We´ll see how it goes this week. Just thinking, I have seen like maybe 5 americans since I have been in Masatepe that weren´t missionaries. I don´t feel like I stick out, but I am sure that I do. I feel like I fit right in. I am reminded of Hawaii a lot here - the weather, the slatted windows, and the pace of life. Life is good and I am doing well. I wanted to tell you that the missionaries would love it if you called them up and told them you wanted to go out with them for a couple hours. It is really helpful and they would love to have a volunteer and not have to call people to go with them. Anyway, the members here are fantastic and I am enjoying it here. The mission president was here for branch council on Thursday. We didn´t go to the meeting but we saw him afterwards. He asked about my health - which is good- and then asked me about my companion and if she hits me, jokingly ( I didn´t know what he said. I understood that he was making a joke, but didn´t know what. I just looked confused and smiled and laughed) I am doing great, just have some bug bites, but that is part of life as a missionary in these tropical places.  Anyway my time is up, but I was reading Ether 6 this week and I related the trip across the ocean of the Jaredites to the mission. I don´t know where the Lord is taking me but He needs and wants me somewhere and that is where the mission is leading me too. I love you all so much. Have a fun last week at home Elena. You are going to be a great missionary and I am so excited for you. Its definitely work, but I am enjoying it and having a good time. I love you all tons and have lots of fun for me this week. I am looking forward to your mail whenever I get it. Love you lots and lots. You guys are the greatest. Love, Alexis