August 29, 2011

Hi from the DR!

Elena and Alexis now have the same p-days so it was great fun to all be emailing at the same time today.  In order to make sense of their messages, you'll need to read all the way through both posts as there was a lot of chatter back and forth.

I am on the computer now. I just wanted to see if Lexxy was still on. Things are good here. We had two baptisms that I failed to mention about last week so that was good. We went to a zone activity today which was fun. Yes this is fun being on the computer at the same time. So it is hot here and we are sweating up a storm. We carry our umbrellas all of the time since it is either raining or sunny, so we can use it for both. I got your DearElders on Thursday, so that was good and I should get mail most Thursdays at our district meeting. The couple in charge of the mail is super cool so I imagine I will get it regularly since they even brought it to the CCM when I was there. It was super stormy last night. My comp and I were both woken up about 1 am when there was tons of thunder and lightning, quite close I think and some rain. Sometimes when we are going to activities and riding in taxis and buses I feel like I am on the Amazing Race. It is crazy, but luckily I just follow my comp around and she knows what´s going on. Hopefully I will figure it out because my guess is that I will stay here with a new companion for the next transfer. So I want to hear how Lexxy´s Spanish is coming. Sometimes I feel like I am like a little kid that is learning how to read and speak all over again. I know it will come with time but it can be a little frustrating. The mosquitos here really like my legs, but I seem to be getting less and less, so that´s good. I hear that they like the new Americans here. I am doing good though. A lady in our ward died last week and we went to the funeral on Saturday. I didn´t know her but it was an interesting experience and I couldn´t help but think of the people that would have been putting something like that on in the 30th the Robin Daltons leading the music, the Joyces and Barb McKenzies doing the compassionate service thing, the Bishop and the RS presidents. The RS pres. spoke and I was picturing you and Dana Garry. They also called a new RS president this week on Sunday so it reminded me of that. The church is the same no matter where you go. We had a great new investigator at church, so we hopefully will have some more success. Also, it is so great to have members go out with us, so if you have a chance, it makes the missionary´s job much easier. So I won´t complain at home when the power goes out for a couple of hours. Luckily we´ve had power almost every night except for a little bit last night during the storm. One other night we didn´t have power when we got back home, but luckily I had my handy dandy flashlight that Mom bought me. I was going to attempt to take a bucket bath in the dark but then my comp told me that we had luz (light) so that was good. We ran out of gas for the oven/stove thing yesterday. We are supposed to get more tomorrow, so I´ve been enjoying some peanut butter sandwiches and mandarin oranges and cheese sandwiches and such. No biggie and the cooking situation is fine just different with not an electric stove.

Things are good here and it was fun seeing my old companion today.  She is in the same zone and is comps with Chessy´s friend with a sister from Paraguay in a trio. It was fun chatting with her and talking about the mission field although we both were pretty excited about the chances of being home at Thanksgiving.  I think Chessy should come for Thanksgiving. I always love hearing your advice Lexxy.  You are the bestest! Mom and Dad feel free to practice while we are gone and we can have a uke quartet when we get back.  Love you all tons too! -Elena

Rivas Week 3

Greetings peeps. I was excited to read Lenny`s emails. That is too bad you have to do your own laundry and food. How does the laundry work? So that would be super awesome if you came home the week of Thanksgiving. That would be super super super cool. So life is swell here. Also you mentioned about growing out your hair. I thought about it and now that you mention it maybe I will do that too. I was thinking about getting a haircut today, but maybe I will do the ponytail thing again until I get home. Anyway, so we had an activity with the president on Thursday and 2 other zones (one of them was my old zone). It was weird seeing the people I had spent the last 6 or 12 weeks of my life with, but it is odd on the mission how you just move on. I talked to the sister who took my place in Masatepe. She has got the bug bite thing going on her legs, so it wasn`t just me. It is possible it is fleas or something, but she didn`t seem too bothered except that it itches. Anyway, she is a twin too, except her twin got married while she has been gone. She said she got to call her when she got married and that that was good. The elders from Masatepe told me that she was a twin too and I said that her twin got married while she was gone. They said hopefully your twin doesn`t do that since she is on a mission and that would be bad. Those elders are real crazy. They are the ones who called my hair the fro. They will be disappointed if I put it up but it is nice and hot here. Anyway, so on the way home from the activity we ended up riding a bus with part of our zone and my old zone to Jinotepe and from there we took the bus to Rivas. It was very odd going through Masatepe and seeing my old turf. But I am starting to feel like I know Rivas pretty well and have developed some relationships with members and people. It is cool here and an interesting life. Like this morning we stopped at this house where they have 13 baby pigs. There are also still things pulled by horse and plenty of dogs. But I am used to it and it is just life in Nicaragua. Yeah I still get my occasional mosquito bites, but life is good.  Anyway, so yesterday in Relief Society there were just us sisters, the RS president, and the lady who does our cooking and laundry. We were talking about Family History and Temple Work. I had never really thought about how one of the things people need to do to get a temple is family history work. Someone has to be generating the names for people to do the work in the temple. The things they mentioned that made family history difficult like using the computer and not having good records made me realize once again how blessed we are. We have a computer in our house and other things accessible that make our lives easier. But I realized that even though the challenges are different, these people here want the same things. The church and doctrine is the same but there are different challenges here but everyone is working towards the same goal. I felt real love for these sisters. (Well, my comp needs to go to the bathroom so I will go and come back to write more.) So we just went the church and back to go to the bathroom. I have about 20minutes left of writing time. That is funny about the umbrellas. We do that too. I don`t use mine much for sun, but my comp does. The Spanish is coming. It is very gradual so sometimes you feel like you aren`t making progress, but then you read something you wrote in the MTC and realize you have come a long way. It comes, just listen and practice and ask questions and keep on working. It starts coming and I still have lots to learn, but generally I feel pretty good. Sometimes I am more confident with the Spanish and sometimes someone says something and I have no idea what they said but I just smile and look confused. It’s cool though. Also there was a senior couple I think from Utah visiting the branch yesterday. They work in the temple in Costa Rica but it is closed for a few weeks so they are visiting different places and sort of on a mini vacation. It was weird only talking to them in Spanish but cool. The other day on the TV in the other room from where we eat, the song from the Disneyland tea cup ride was on. Good times! We are working and trying to find new families to teach. We should have a baptism this week if all goes as planned. So that should be good. I am glad to hear Lenny is doing well. I am glad you watched that video of us uke-ing it up Mom and that will be the best Thanksgiving ever if that is when you will get home Lenny. Anyway, I love you tons and tons and it is cool being on the computer at the same time.  I need to go, so peace out friends and keep party it up in the DR. It will be fun to compare all these stories when we get home. The gospel is true. I love being a missionary!  I am so happy to be part of this family and eternity is going to be awesome. Love you TONS, love, Alexis

August 24, 2011

Elena’s address update & Greetings from the DR!

So...I have a new address for letters. The other one is just for packages.   (see Elena’s address page)  They open the packages I think, since you don´t put a customs slip in
them, so please don´t send anything of real value, not that I need anything expensive.

Hi! It feels like it´s been forever since I emailed but that´s because it has. Almost 2 weeks! Crazy! Well, things are good here. I am in Mendoza. It is about 30 minutes from the temple and the mission office by taxi. We went to the temple today and that´s why my p-day was today. Usually it will be Monday. The Lord works in mysterious ways...for instance with Lexxy talking to the sister here. She came and gave me a big hug and told me Lexxy said not to worry about the little things. I gave a note to the sister before I left on Tuesday and took a picture with her. Our zone conference was changed from a week earlier to last week so I saw the sister again to tell her to tell Lexxy I wouldn´t be emailing until later this week which was good since then you would know, especially with the storm this week. We had some rain and wind but nothing really out of the ordinary too much. The Lord knows us and our individual situations. I know this more than ever since these calls with the sister here and Lexxy. That was super nice of her to call Lexxy since she didn´t talk to her on Friday. I will have to thank her next time I see her. I saw her husband in the temple today.

So what to tell you...we left early last Tuesday and drove 5 minutes to the mission office. We had a little orientation and met our trainers and stuff. My comp is from Guatemala and this is her last transfer. It is weird that we are on totally opposite ends of the spectrum but it is good. She is nice and speaks some English so between the 2 of us we can usually figure out what each other is saying. The president and his wife are super cool and super sweet. By Tuesday afternoon we were out on the streets working. We had Pizza Hut at the orientation and we also went to Pizza Hut for lunch today. We printed our emails and then ate lunch and then came back so we have more time to write. We´ve been visiting the members and also looking for new people and we´ve found a few great families. I think this is my comp´s third transfer in the area so she knows what´s going on. I usually have no idea where we are, but I´ll learn. You know I have direction challenges and it´s worse when everything is so foreign :) Our area has some richer areas and then very poor areas. Our apartment is good and we have water and stuff. The power goes out during the day usually but usually we have it at night and some of the morning and sometimes the afternoon. We have a tank of water, which I didn´t know my comp shut off one day, so I thought we didn´t have water coming in but then we turned it back on, so now I know to turn it on when we get back to the house. We cook for ourselves and do our own laundry unlike Lexxy. I might try to learn how to cook some Dominican stuff but for now I just stick to grilled cheese, Campbells soup, ramen, mac and cheese, etc. Even if I wanted to cook something more elaborate, I don´t like to make stuff with a lot of left overs since the power goes out. Our toilet was leaking this week but the office sent someone right out and fixed it, so that was good. I am becoming a professional at taking showers with a bucket since the shower faucet doesn´t work. We have water, but the shower thing doesn´t work, but no biggie. I might ask about that but my comp doesn´t seem concerned and it´s no big deal. I have decided to grow my hair out since it is super hot and like 46,000 times cooler when it´s up. It´s just about long enough to and I wore it up yesterday. But I promise to have Marni cut it right away when I get home. Speaking of which,  what I’ve heard is that the American sisters usually come home a transfer early which means I would get home the week of thanksgiving Nov. 20 and if not it will be January 1. So that would be sweet if that´s how it works out and if not oh well. 
Some of the stuff Lexxy says is so funny. She mentioned seeing Hyundai accents and I´ve seen them too and they are super nice and I thought about mentioning that... and for soap here I have the sweet gold kind Gramps always buys. Don´t worry about me because I´m doing good and the elders called us about the storm and told us to go shopping for food and stuff on Monday, so they keep us posted. I have to write my mission president. It was great going to the temple today and I always think of you all and feel closer to home when I´m there. I also saw my favorite lady that hugs and kisses me there too. :) The people are great here and so nice. The ward is great and the building has air conditioning which is a treat on Sundays. :) I am more sure than ever that I needed to go BYU-Hawaii to help prepare me for this experience. I am doing real good and I will email again next Monday. I love you tons.    Elena

August 22, 2011

Greetings from Rivas - Week 2

So we had a good week. It ended well yesterday with the dedication of the El Salvador temple. That was so great! President Eyring and Elder Christofferson (who speaks Spanish) were there and so was a seventy and Sister Allred and the area presidency (2 of whom I met in Guatemala). On Saturday we had an activity with the 2 branches here with sports, talents, and then they were going to watch movies. It ended up being the same time as the cultural celebration in El Salvador so we got to see the beginning of that. Oh and for the talents - my companion and I sang "I am a Child of God" the first and last verse in Spanish and the second in English. I played the piano. I am not sure you could hear us very well, but whatever. There is someone that plays the piano in the branch, so here I am not the designated piano player. Anyway, we got to hear Pres. Eyring’s remarks at the cultural celebration and saw some of the dancing. Pres. Eyring doesn`t speak Spanish, so I enjoyed hearing his original words and then the translation. It was funny when the cultural thing came on, for a second I thought they were speaking English and then I realized it was Spanish. I guess that is good that I couldn`t tell the difference J. Anyway, I was excited that I could hear President Eyring speak in English. So the dedication on Sunday morning was great. They had President Eyring miked when he went outside to do the cornerstone (which by the way I learned what pierdra angular meant in Spanish - we read it in Ephesians 2:20, but I really hadn`t thought about what it meant-cornerstone). He was speaking in English, so not everyone could understand, but I really enjoyed his comments. He just seemed like a real person. When he was getting some mortar to put in the cornerstone, he said that President Hinckley always criticized his work with the cornerstones and that his wife was the more qualified one to do this since she is the daughter of a construction man. Sometimes, we look at these men as people so different than us, but really they are just like us but with a much bigger church calling. I also had to think how it must be hard for them to do all this traveling in these countries. I know they get good care, but I am sure they get sick just like everyone else. I thought of Tanner in El Salvador too. There were lots of blessings prayed for, for the missionaries. I know we are well taken care of. I also remembered how someone in the MTC said to remember that at every hour of the day there are prayers said for the missionaries in the temple. I love the temple and can`t wait to go again. That will definitely be one of the first things I do when I get back! I felt at home watching the broadcast and the pictures of the temples with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir playing in English before the broadcast. I LOVE the temple! And I LOVE that I am sealed to you and that we can be a forever family! The dedication was definitely the highlight of the week. I think I will be here when the Honduras temple is done and we should be able to see that because Nicaragua will be in that temple district then. Yesterday El Salvador, Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua got the broadcast. It is weird but maybe this is the reason I came in contact with the lady in the DR. We didn`t go to the weekly zone meeting on Friday so I was bummed I didn`t get to talk to the lady on Friday. I just figured that was the way it goes and hopefully another time I will get to talk to her. Apparently we don`t go every week since it is either a 1 or 2 hour bus ride. Anyway, on Saturday the lady called our phone. We were in a lesson so she called back a little later. She said Elena wanted me to tell you that she won`t be emailing today but another day this week since they were all going to the temple today. She read me a little note Elena had written. The lady had seen her at a zone conference that week. She has a Latin companion and is doing well. I don`t know where she is but it was great to hear from this lady. Definitely a tender mercy and a great surprise when she called on Saturday. But as I thought about it- Elena was probably concerned that you would worry if you didn`t get an email from her today, so I know the Lord takes care of all of us and if that was the only reason I spoke to the lady in the DR then that was great!  Anyway, mail wise - I got mail on Wednesday since one of the elders did exchanges in Jinotepe with the zone leaders. I got DearElders from you, the Gehrings, and Joyce and a card and letter from you and letter from the Greens. We have an activity this week with the zone on Thursday so I should get some then. Most likely we will either have a  p-day activity with the zone, the elders will go to Jinotepe, or we will go to the Friday meetings - one of the 3 things will happen each week usually so I should still get mail regularly. Anyway, so that is good. I do have some sweet farmers tan lines going. And lines on my feet where my shoe straps are. My toes will be white but the rest of my feet will be dark. J So I thought of you guys the other day when I bought some soap to refill the hand soap containers. The bag has just a little bit more than can fit in the bottle, but we had another bottle so I put the rest in that bottle. The soap I bought was orange but the soap in that bottle was green. I just mixed it like we do at home. Got to love mixing the soap. Oh, and I saw a mercedes 240D here the other day and I have seen some of the new Hyundai accents and those look quite nice. And I have decided that you should learn how to make gallopinto so you can cook it for me when I get home. We can have it every night for dinner like we do here. It is just beans and rice mixed together but I am not sure how they make it. Anyway - you can start practicing that. I will do the fried bologna as the meat to go with it. I will figure out how to make this drink too - avena (which just means oatmeal) I think it is oatmeal with water and maybe milk and sugar. It is actually good and they have an ice cream here with that flavor which I want to try sometime, but the guy didn`t have it when we bought ice cream this week. Anyway - you should be excited to try my Nicaraguan food when I get back! J Also I have decided that I will be enjoying a cranapple juice on the flight home. They don`t really have juice here -mostly just different types of tang which are good. My favorite is jamaica which is some kind of flower but the drink tastes good. There is also a pink fruit here - pitayha? which is good in drinks too and really pink. Anyway, we have had a good week. I enjoyed the broadcast. We also taught a family that went well. The man repairs bikes. He was real accepting so hopefully we will have some success with them next month. It was weird yesterday not having to go and get people for church since it was the dedication. And in the afternoon my comp wasn`t feeling too well and hadn`t slept well, so we ended up going back to the apartment for the afternoon. I had a nice nap. That was really weird to take a nap. Anyway, I think that is about all I have to tell you for this week. I am doing real fantastic here. I love you so much and can`t believe next month I will have 6 months out. Half of a year - that seems crazy! Well, I will mail you letters I wrote this morning. The mail is cheaper here - don`t know why, but whatever. Anyway, I love you tons and can`t wait to hear from Lenny. The gospel is true and I am happy being a missionary. I want others to have the same happiness and blessings we have in our family! I am doing real well and you are the best! Love, Alexis

August 15, 2011

Greetings from Rivas!

So I am in Rivas now. It is about a 2 and a half hour bus ride from Managua. We are closer to the beach and San Juan del Sur. It is nice and warm here. There is a thermometer here in the internet place that says it is about 90. What Elena said about sweating the most in her life in the mission is true here. I keep drinking water and am learning my way around this place. It is quite a bit bigger than Masatepe. There are 2 branches but we are hearing that they will be combining them soon. We are the only missionaries in our branch and there are 4 elders in the other. We don`t see them much since we don`t eat with them. We eat at a lady´s house and she does our laundry and the elders’ laundry on Mondays and Thursdays. She is really cool and the food is good. She kind of reminds me of Grandma Olive but as I thought about it yesterday she is probably more like your age. My companion said she is like 54. My companion is from Panama. I think her family has been members for about 8 years. She has been out 15 months. She is pretty quiet and doesn`t say much. I am getting used to how she works and things like that, which I think are what`s hard about changes - nothing bad just different. We just get in our routines and then we have to learn new ones with new people, but I am enjoying being her companion. So, bad news - on the bus ride from Managua to here someone got into one of my suitcases and took the tub of my meds and vitamins and the other tub with all my random stuff - like scissors, nail clippers, moleskin, retainer cleaner, sewing kit, and sunscreen. There was a random guy that told us to sit here in the bus and I think that was so we weren`t so close to my bags. But at least all the stuff can be replaced and we are going to go to the store after this to get some of it. My companion had her wallet in the side pocket of her backpack and somehow that was gone when we got off the bus. She wasn`t so concerned about the money, but her camera card with all her pictures was in there. She is bummed about that. We talked to the police that night but I am about 99% sure that they can`t do anything and the stuff isn`t going to come back. Anyway, so that wasn`t super fun, but I am doing fine and when I was telling the district and zone leaders what stuff they took and one of the biggest disappointments was the ziploc bags you sent I realized that it wasn`t that big of a deal. I am going to try to buy as much of the stuff here as I can. I’ll go to the pharmacy today and get my vitamins and the other stuff they have there. It shouldn`t be more than about 30 dollars and I think that will be easier and cheaper than having you mail that stuff to me. So, not the funnest way to start the change but I am doing good and I guess this is one way to get rid of some stuff in my bags. Next time I will buy little locks for my bags. At least they didn`t get into the bag with my cd player or important documents, so these little things I need to buy are no big deal - just money and annoyance. I am doing fantastic. Anyway, I have a good story to tell you from Friday when we went to the zone and district meetings. One of the other sisters came to me right when they got there and handed me the phone and said to talk to the person. The lady is someone that works for the church and speaks English. I said I would translate (I wouldn´t call it high quality translation, but whatever). Anyway, the lady told me who she was and that she was in the DR offices and she helps with the Central American and Caribbean missions. I said my sister is in the DR MTC. She said that was why I sounded familiar and she knows Lenny. I got to talk to her and pass a little message on to Lenny. The lady is going to call back again on Friday to talk to this sister so she should have a message from Lenny to me. The lady said how it wasn`t a coincidence that I was translating and that the Lord knows us all so well and our situations. I was so grateful to talk to her even though I didn`t know her, but just knowing she knows Lenny made me happy. That was definitely a tender mercy. Anyway, so I was proud of myself the other day because I made a joke in Spanish. We were talking to a lady in the street with her two daughters. She described them as coffee and coffee with milk since one had lighter skin than the other. I said that I was just milk :) They thought that was funny and she said, pure milk. Then she said my companion was cocoa. I don`t know if my companion was as entertained by this as I was, but I was proud of myself. Really my companion is very dark skinned. Anyway, I am doing well and trying to get to know the members and investigators here. We have a little kid that just turned 9 that is really excited to get baptized so that is good and we have some other people too. Oh, and we have bunk beds in the apartment, so Brownie and I are excited to be on the top bunk. The apartment is small, but nice and the water situation is good here and we have water almost all the time so that is an improvement.  So I should still get mail fairly regularly at least on Fridays at the zone meetings.  I haven`t got anything this week but most likely on Friday. I have some letters I will mail today to you all.  I can`t believe Elena is done at the MTC tomorrow and that I will have 5 months tomorrow. The time I think will keep going by faster and faster. Crazy! I am doing well and excited to get in a groove here and figure this city out. It is bigger than Masatepe and has more than one bank and there is a big ice cream place that we will have to try (but no chains like McDonalds). Oh, at the change meeting the mom of an elder was there who was going home. He is Tongan and from Hawaii and she brought leis and stuff for them and the mission president and his wife and the elder was wearing a Hawaiian skirt deal. It was good and fun to remember Hawaii. All we needed was a good Aloha oe. So I guess parents do come to pick people up but I am with Tanner's thinking on that one. I feel safe here but it would be more challenging to have to keep track of other white people who don`t know Spanish and especially in Managua people will take advantage of that. Anyway, I am safe and well taken care of so don`t worry about me. You guys are the bestest and I know that I am always taken care of.  Well, I hope all is well at home and I look forward to your next letters. The gospel is true and I am happy here. I am enjoying being a missionary. I hope you don`t worry about me from my other emails. I am happy and healthy and safe. I love you tons and can`t wait to hear from Lenny in the DR. Well, my comp is ready to go. I am doing fantastico and so is Brownie! Love you tons and tons! Love, Alexis
Masatepe Branch President & family

...last pictures from Masatepe

August 11, 2011


Things are real good here in the DR.   It's been a great week for mail. :)  I am doing well and it is crazy that I'm leaving on Tuesday. There are lots of people here in the computer lab today with all of the Latinos but a nice elder from Nicaragua finished and gave me his computer.  I think p-day is Monday in my mission so I probably won't email until a week from Monday.  So, it's been a good week here.  Oh, I didn't see any damage from the storm, but we were thinking about our Haitian friends and wondering how they were doing with all of the rain. It was a little wet on Friday and we weren't sure we were going to go on splits but it cleared up and was quite sunny. So we went. We went on splits with the missionaries in the West mission and are supposed to do the same thing tomorrow. My comp was from the DR and didn't speak a lot of English but it was good. We knocked doors for a little while and tried to set up appointments for them to come back and teach a 10 minute lesson on Sunday. (When I use "we", I'm using it very loosely.) :) I basically let her do her thing and she said I could try, so I just said that we were missionaries from the church and tried not to mess that up and then I looked at her. :) We also went to a couple of lessons. I bore my testimony at the end of each of those. The first one we taught was the law of chastity. It was a little different because the girl was Haitian, so a member translated what my comp said. I actually had just studied the law of chastity that morning, so I understood some of what was going on. At the beginning of that lesson, we sang a hymn and guess what it was? Teach Me to Walk in the Light - of course in Espanol and the one thing I didn't bring with me was my hymn book, so I did my best to sing along. :) We also went to another lesson and talked about the Book of Mormon. It was a good time. I was nice and sweaty when we got back. All I can say is that I'm going to sweat more in the next 16 months than I ever have and I am also going to have some sweet tan lines. :) When we were driving to our area, one of the sisters from the DR was really close to her house (based on what I could understand). I think that would have been hard driving by familiar stuff but knowing you couldn't stop. Crazy! One of the elders here is going home because he is having knee problems. He is supposed to have something done at home and then hopefully come back after 6 weeks. Funny story - so when I was writing in my planner about one of the lessons, I was going to write L2 and it made me think of law school. Then I was like "what did they call us in law school?" and then I remembered it wasn't L1, it was 1L. Thanks Dad! :) Also, our teacher was demonstrating how to teach the law of chastity and asked us what we knew about it. One of the elders said, is that the same as caridad (charity)? Chastity is (castidad). I busted out laughing because we used to joke about that and I kept making myself laugh everytime I thought of the elder saying this. We have a great district here. I forgot to tell you that we had a good Fast Sunday. We actually fasted for Saturday dinner and then breakfast on Sunday. I wasn't sure about doing it that way, but I actually really liked it especially since we went right to lunch after church at noon. Maybe it will be a new way of fasting for me. We also went shopping on Monday again since they were taking the Latinos. We walked to more of a grocery store, but it was good and a nice store. I think we watched the same devotional Alexis might have watched by Elder Bednar. He talked about the 20 mark note. It is a great talk about doing what you should and then realizing that you are guided by the spirit. I am so grateful for your support. I can't image doing this without you. Some of the Latinos here have amazing stories of only being a member for a year and coming on a mission or not having their family's support and still coming. They are great people. I think my mission president is speaking at our Sunday fireside this week so it will be good to see him and his wife again and then on Tuesday. The West mission president spoke this last Sunday. I also had a good time at the temple today. We did a session first and then did a couple of initiatory. It was really nice because I got to do one initiatory all in English and then another worker came and did part of the other in Spanish. I was really glad to be reminded of those blessings before going out to the field.  Anyways, I love you tons and tons. You are seriously the best peeps ever! Love, Elena

Elena's new address with zip code correction!

See Elena's new address on her address page. Letters and packages can be sent to this Florida address but will be delivered to her in the DR. ( This includes today's correction on the zip code of her new address.)

August 9, 2011

Nicaragua week 12!

Hola Familia - These are my last few days in Masatepe. I will have changes on Wednesday so that should be interesting. Another great adventure. We found out about changes while we were with the zone today. The interviews with President went well. He told my companion that she wouldn`t be leaving but didn`t tell about me. The elders thought that we would be companions another change. 3 changes is about the max but there are some that have done 4 with the same companion, but 6 months together is quite a bit. The district leader and I are leaving and everyone thought his companion would be the one to go. They have 3 changes together and the other companion only has 2 areas in his mission and will hit a year next week. But anyway, it’s all an adventure and it will be fun to see somewhere else and work with someone new. So I will have lots of new things to tell you next week. It will be sad to leave the people we are teaching here and the members, but that is the life of a missionary. So for the zone activity we went to San Marcos which is like a 10 minute bus ride and they cooked some tortillas and beans and stuff for valiadas( not sure on the spelling) which is a common food of Honduras. One of the elders cooked funnel cakes that were really good. Apparently his family sells them in different fairs and conferences and stuff all summer long. That was tasty. We got permission to watch Cars 2. I didn`t really watch it and it was in Spanish so I would have to exert myself to hear and understand it all. I wrote some letters. I did see at the end the cartoon scenes of London which were cool. That was a really good trip we had. I also mailed my letters in San Marcos. It was cheaper there. It was more of a real post office there than just someone`s house that is the post office. Anyway, life is good here. We had a good week and had lots of people (8) at church, mostly people we invited or brought. One of the members went for this one man and he actually came so that was good. One of our investigators paid his tithing yesterday too. When we taught him about tithing, my companion asked if he would pay his tithing after he got baptized. He asked if he could start now. He is a super easy investigator. We taught him about the word of wisdom last week and he said he would give up his coffee and he has. He is really willing to do what we ask him. In Elena´s letter she mentioned how we are really asking people to change their lives here. It isn`t easy for them and sometimes we forget that, because for most of us we have grown up living these things and haven`t had to think twice about it. But really if they have the desire they can do it and we can help them too. This week it was weird to see a bunch of North Americans at a church here. They were playing soccer outside this church. I imagine they were kind of like the people the Duggars do their trips to Central America with. I don`t know where they were from but it is very strange to see other Americans besides the other missionaries. Also another weird thing- on TV the other night, Survivor Nicaragua was starting. We do see some TV when we are in people`s houses but it was really odd to see something that familiar. Usually it is some Spanish soap opera or the Nicaraguan news, but it was funny. By the way, Lenny your letters are real fantastic. I forgot about Sister Garn teaching us to direct music with that song. We sing it quite a bit here and I will think about that now every time I hear it. It is true how sometimes we can`t see what impact such small things will have on people and how those little things are the things we remember the most. Thanks for giving me such great memories to look back on and feel so happy about. I did remember that we were in Alaska a year ago. That was a blast and I can`t wait to do it again. Thanks for all you do for me. You are the best family that anyone could ask for. Thanks for getting me prepared for this and helping me have success here. I know that you pray for me all the time and know that I pray for you all the time too. It is great to be a missionary. I know the gospel is true and I’m so grateful that we can be together forever. So, that`s the latest from here and I will be emailing from somewhere else next week. Thanks for being the coolest people on planet earth. Love you tons and tons. Love, Alexis.

August 4, 2011

Aloha from the DR

Can you believe it's August already?! Crazy! I can't believe that I was in Alaska last year partying it up with Chessy and Lexxy. Now we're all missionarying it up all over the world! Things are good here in the DR. It's been raining all day and has been getting more windy too. It rains a lot here anyways, but usually not all day - more like Hawaii rain - where it's sunny one second and then rainy the next.  We only heard about the storm from one of our teachers and then I read a little article one of the hermanas got in an email about it. Things haven't changed at the MTC because of it and I imagine it is probably one of the best places we could be during a storm. We are right next to the temple. :) It's weird how we are so isolated from the news and stuff. I don't miss it too much.  Thanks for the email pics! Good stuff. So the news around here - we went to the temple today which was good.  They did the session in English so I was glad I didn't have to wear headphones. The field trips were fun the last couple of weeks, but the temple is the best.  So more  news - someone died in the building the other night.  It was like an 80 year old man who was here going to the temple.  A couple of the floors here are used for temple housing and senior missionary couples and I guess he had a heart attack or something.  One of the teachers said that when he got here yesterday he saw a coffin going into the elevator.  They said the man always wanted to die around the temple, and he did.  Anyways, crazy stuff.  We are supposed to go on splits tomorrow with missionaries from either the east or west missions but who knows with the storm.  It has been good going to the university but it will be fun to do something different. One of my teachers told us that he had 104 baptisms here on his mission including a lady that was 108 and he was in my mission. That's a lot of baptisms!!!  It's been good with the Latinos here. There are a lot more people here but it's all good.  The new hermanas have their own room so we didn't get any new roommates. There are some Nicaraguan elders here that are roommates with some of the elders in my district so that's kinda cool. Some of the hermanas have been sick this week. They gave my comp some antibiotics because they thought she probably had strep throat but I'm doing mighty fine.  I had a little sore throat on Sunday, but I took a couple of naps since that's allowed and encouraged here and have been taking plenty of vitamin C and I'm doing real good. Anyways, hopefully all of the hermanas will be healthy this week. We had a great devotional this week from Elder Cornish of the Seventy. He talked about obedience and said that obedience is a lifestyle.  It was really good and he shared the scripture about how we have angels that are with us.  Pretty sweet.   I know I've got 2 grandparents looking out for me. He also shared the scripture in Jacob 6:12 “O be wise, what can I say more?” That's a good scripture. We just need to be wise and we'll be good.  I've also been thinking about how when I'm talking to people and sharing a message with them, that I'm not just giving them a pamphlet or sharing a nice message, but I'm really asking them to change their lives.  That's what this is about - people changing their lives so that they can have the blessings that I have and be with their family forever. And if we can just get people to read the Book of Mormon and pray, they will know it's true and feel the Spirit. The hard part is just getting them to do that and have a real desire to know.  Also, I was thinking of Sister Garn on Sunday. I was leading the music in Relief Society and we were singing "Teach Me to Walk in the Light" in Spanish. That was the song that she taught us how to lead music with and I always think of her when we sing it. I think it is super cool that you are in achievement day now Mom and that one of those girls is going to be in another country one day and remember something that you taught them and the great experiences you have with them. Good times in achievement days. Pretty cool! I love you guys tons and tons!!!! I can't believe Chessy's been gone almost a year! Time flies when you're missionarying it up. It's been great emailing back and forth. Love you lots!!!!!! Until next week, Love, Elena

August 1, 2011

Greetings Peeps!

Hola familia - thanks for all the sweet mail. I enjoy Elena´s emails and yours too. It sounds like quite the party at the CCM in the DR. Actually that is cool that they get out and about! Today we went to the other little town where the zone leaders live to drop off some baptism forms and pick up mail. I got the package with the new shirt and a card from the 18th. I didn´t get any DearElders this time, but I am guessing that some weeks if they come late they don´t get in the mail bag for Saturday. But that just means more the next time. Thanks for everything. (The elders here asked where all my letters were today, but the one card and the package is more than most of them get in a whole change. They are funny. Some of the things they say at the dinner table are entertaining and sometimes they say oops there is a sister here that can understand us. One of them the other day said something that I thought was something Dad would say. One of them asked if I had brothers and I said no. He said that I am learning a lot being around them. They are crazy! But it is fun and I enjoy eating with them.) It will be fun to have something different to wear. Maybe I will wear it for our interviews with the president on Thursday.  Life is going well here. I am feeling better and we had some good success this week. We found this one guy a couple weeks ago. He is about 70 years old and really positive. He came to church yesterday and actually knows quite a few people there so that was exciting. We have been teaching a family too. They were a referral and were pretty positive. The whole family came to the wedding and baptism the elders had on Saturday. Last month we did do well with retention. We had all of the people on our list of people who were baptized in the last year come at least once. So that´s what is going on here. On Friday we had a funny experience. The elders had a wedding on Saturday and wanted to get a dress for the girl and they were going to lend the groom a coat and tie. They said my companion was about the same size as the bride so we went with them to the store. They had a dress and my comp tried it on over her clothes. We had the elders look at it. It was pretty entertaining this whole episode. Apparently that dress didn´t work out, but they ended up getting one at another clothing store. The man at the store gave it to them for free since it was for a wedding and baptism. She looked nice on Saturday. Well, life is going well here. We will see if I stay or go since changes are next week. I am pretty open to whatever except I would be sad to leave these people here that we are teaching but that´s part of the mission. I enjoyed reading Elder Scott´s talk about marriage this morning. I thought of you both when he said that he and his wife never fought. You are such good examples for me. I also like in Preach My Gospel where it says that heaven is the continuation of an ideal home and the scripture in D&C 130:2. Elder Scott said that he thinks he will be more in love with his wife when he sees her again because of the time they have spent apart since her death. I feel like this time on my mission has made me more appreciative of you all and helped me realize the importance of the family. I am so happy and blessed to be in this family! The Gospel's true! I am doing well and happy here. I can´t believe it is already August! Hope your tooth gets better. I love you all tons and tons! Love, Alexis