Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

 Hello, Merry belated Christmas and happy New Year! I hope that you all had a fantastic Christmas and that you have great plans for a new year. Don't forget to make spiritual goals as well as temporal ones! One of the things that we are encouraging people to do is to consider the different characteristics of Christ listed in PMG (faith, hope, charity and love, obedience, virtue, patience, knowledge, diligence, humility) and choose one to think about, learn about, and pray for as the new year begins. In our mission we are studying one a week so this upcoming week I am on hope. But whatever you choose to work on this year, good luck!

 I hope that you all had a fantastic and Christ centered Christmas! We spent the day visiting members mostly, in the morning we had brunch and skyped which was awesome and then in the evening we had dinner with a part member family (so half the family was happy to have us there, ha, ha) but we watched the Christmas devotional and it was good. If you haven't had an opportunity to watch or read it yet I would recommend it. I've seen it three times now but it's still like it, so that's how you know it’s good! Ha, ha.

 This Christmas I have been very blessed, and I feel like I received far more than I deserved. I'm always amazed at how thoughtful and kind people have been to me since I've been out, Christmas time especially. This year I received from members, most of whom this was my first time meeting, socks, gloves, a McDonald’s gift card, a scarf, more socks, lots of candy, fruit, hand warmers, more gloves, ear muffs, pens, a stocking and earrings. And everyone that we stopped by to see offered us something to eat and hot chocolate! The ward here is very kind and I'm very grateful and humbled by the love and trust they have for us. And I've really been reminded this year that God loves us and if we turn to Him we will take care of us. He not only gives us what we need but He also wants to bless us with our righteous wants and desires. What is important to us is important to Him because He loves us.

 One of the best gifts that I was able to have this year though was really just to be able to devote my entire Christmas season to thinking about and helping others to think about Christ. I know it kind of sounds cheesy but it's not something that I had really been able to do before, at least not to this extent, and it really does bring a lot of happiness into your life that you just can't get any other way. Being able to start my mission during the Christmas season has actually been I think a great blessing.

 I was also very humbled this year when we went to visit one of our investigators of Christmas Eve. We just stopped by quickly so that Sister Mendenhall could say goodbye since Christmas was her last day but they decided that they were going to open a present while we were there since it was Christmas Eve and that's a thing I guess. The family consists of a mom and her 10 year old son and her two other kids where there for Christmas but live with the mom's friend, one is 14 and the other just turned 13. Their mom wasn't able to get them anything really but their dad who is getting home from prison in a few days was able to get them some stuff and have it sent to the house. Anyway, all three of them got some degree of clothing, and not like cool (to a kid) clothes either, like socks and basic shirts and stuff but they were all way excited for it anyway. It made me think about the story Grandpa Till would tell us about the kids in Germany getting the cereal.

 I also received this year Christmas cards from J.J. and his family, the Tills, Cedarcrest ward (by the way, there is totally a Cedarcrest ward here in our zone too), the Stevicks, the Ceadarcrest Primary, President and Sister Miller, and the First Presidency, so that was cool and thank you all. They all seemed to come at very optimal times, when something frustrating or discouraging was going on.

 So, you might think that it's funny that I was given so much warm weather clothing when I said that it's not that cold right? Well, joke's on me I guess because this week it has been cold and windy! In the mornings and evenings it will be down to the low 20's and the wind will be blowing so not to worry (because I know you were), it's being well used!

 Since Christmas was going on and people were out of town and with family and everything and we spent a day taking Sister Mendenhall to the mission home we didn't get a lot of lessons or anything in this week but I have high hopes for the upcoming year. Sister Stokes and I are still trying to figure out the area a little since we're both new to it and this is here first time being the big boss (aka trainer/ senior companion) so I think she feels a little overwhelmed but all is going pretty well, ha, ha.

 Last night we talked to a cool guy named Victor at 7-11 who was selling wood and we talked to him for like 20 minutes just about church and stuff, I guess he is a Catholic but his son is training to become a Baptist Pastor. We also met this weird family this week that is very close to each other, like weirdly close. When we went over the sibling were like sitting on each other's laps and holding hands. Very Flowers in the Attic vibe if you know what I mean.... We were also rejected via sticky notes this week. We had received a referral from the YSA Elders and told that they had set up an appointment to meet with a family at noon. So we went over but no one was there so we left a sticky note on the door saying we had stopped by and giving them our number. When we drove past their house later that day we saw like 4 sticky notes on the door and thought that was weird so we went to see what was up. They had left sticky notes on top of ours saying they didn't want to meet with us. It was just weird though because they were on their own front door!  Oh and we also met a woman this week who as really bad memory problems. It's almost like a 50 first date's type of thing (not that bad but same kind of idea) except that the thing she keeps remembering is that her daughter died, so it's really hard for her to get over the loss since it's hard for here to keep track of the time since it's happened!

 Well, that's about it for this week, hope you all have an awesome new year and try not to party too hard! I'll probably be asleep while you are! =O


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Merry Christmas From New Mexico

So, you remember how I said last week that I hadn't really met any interesting people? Well I found them all this week! Or a few of them at least. Last week we almost died when a lady who was taking us to lunch decided to get off at an exit and then actually not get off and then get back on the freeway while she was talking to her son's principal about what to do because he was apparently pantsing kids at recess. We went on exchanges this week in Rio Rancho and all of our appointments fell through so we spent all day talking to strangers and met an odd old couple but actually not anyone too weird, just rude. We also had one lady hang up on us. The conversation went like this "hello" "Hi Sister Martinez, this is the sister missionaries!" "hi, how are you?" "We're good, we were wondering if we could come by some time this week and..." ha, ha, ha, apparently it wasn't a good week for her.
The highlight though of the strange people that we met this week was a less active man. If Robin Williams had a child with Steve Carell to dressed like Woody Allen and grew up to become a used car sales man it would be this guy. He is seriously the most manic person I have ever seen and was pretty close to bouncing off the walls when we were there. He's one of those super well off people who gets bored of something and then moves on to a new job just for something to do so he was a butler, a salesman of just about every kind, a professional chef, a druggie and just about everything else you can image. He's also not shy about anything and spoke in far too much detail about how when people question his sexuality he tells them that he's buysexual and no, that is not a typo, interpret as you will.... But he was really nice, he gave us some fudge and then he and his dog came to church the next day. 
Speaking of candy, I love you all and really appreciate it all but please do not send me anymore! Every person that we go to talk to gives us some kind of junk food. I'll attach a picture for you of our kitchen counter and hot chocolate draw and that's only the communal candy, that's not even including the stuff that we have individually. It's escalated I know because we have three of us and it's Christmas time but still it's madness! The other day when we were at the Kimsley's we had hot chocolate made with cream instead of milk or water and then with home made marshmallows. It was good but sooooo rich and we had just come from dinner!
One of the days this week when we went caroling Sister Johnson's dad who is 98 came with us! Seriously he is like the beastliest old man ever. And then when we got back to the house he gave us some life council and he was like "if you have a minute open your scriptures to Mark" and then he taught us about how Christ got up early in the morning after he had worked hard to meditate and pray. He's pretty much like the coolest guy ever. I felt like one of those people who talk about how the scriptures were expoounded unto them.
We've been spending a lot of time this week at the nursing home in the area. A member there is really sick and about to die soon (she's 90) and we've been visiting with her family and friends. By the way parents, if at all possible I will never put you in a nursing home just for the sake that I would probably never visit you. Those places just kind of creep me out and I don't like being in them. It's got me thinking a little bit about death though and how I'd prefer to die. I mean I can't speak from any kind of personal experience but it kind of seems like getting old and dying is sort of the worst. I think that Alma had the right idea. One day he went for a walk and never came back. I mean was he translated? Maybe, who knows?
We had Zone conference this week as well and I got the chance to see Elder Campbell and Sister Beo who were in my district at the the MTC, so that was cool. I also got there along with the Christmas package from you all a Christmas card from the Tills and one from the Primary so if you could tell them all thank you that would be awesome! My companions also said that my cousins were super cute. I think that have to say that but... it's true anyway. Anyway, we set up the Christmas tree and lights next to the fireplace and Sister Walker in our ward, who's actually one of the seamstresses for the Hill Cumorah pagent made us each a stocking which was super nice so we hung those up. And it looks darn festive in our apartment now! (by the way mom, if you see Halden again soon be sure to tell him that I am keeping things nice and festive!)
We didn't get a whole lot of lessons in this week because everyone is doing stuff for Christmas but the ones that we did have were pretty good. Let's see, other random things that happened. Yesterday when we were at a stop light I saw a tumble weed blow across the road just like in a movie. For some of our service this week we spent two hours wrapping Christmas presents for an elderly member. Oh and this week I hit my one month out mark, how weird is that?
Well, I hope everything is going well and everyone is awesome! Have a fantastic Christmas! 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Settling in

So, the last day that we were in the MTC, the 8th, we had to leave super early. We got up at 3 to see the other half of our district off and them we left at 4. Oh and mom apparently Sister Holt is going to send you an e-mail so keep and eye out for that. We had to take a bus, two trains, and a plane in order to finally get to Albuquerque (why they didn't just drive us to the airport I don't know, I mean, it's not like there were people to talk to on the train at 4 in the morning but whatever. Ha, we also had some people turn and run from us in the airport that was fun. I feel like I've never had people be nicer to me and I've never had people be meaner to me since becoming a missionary). Anyway, we finally got there around noon on Monday and took a picture at the temple and then had a million hours worth of instruction at the mission home. President and Sister Miller are pretty cool, they are both pilots and like to race motorcycles. 
The missionary stereotypes also started in the mission home since they kept giving us a bunch of food to eat and asked us like 10 times if we wanted more. Elder Campbell and I also had a contest to see who could choke down the most tomatoes since neither of us like them and they gave us so many. I feel like I've really already encountered most of the missionary stereotypes. I've already run into an investigator on his way home from the store with a 6 pack, already been asked about why we don't drink caffeine and why we have weird underwear and about oppression of women in the church (that was a fun conversation with a Jehovah's Witness) so I've got most of them down already.
So I'm actually in a trio right now, my comps are Sister Stokes who is my trainer and Sister Mendehall. Sister Mendenhall leaves the day after Christmas so there will be the three of us until then. They're both from Idaho and Utah so people are always pleasantly surprised when I tell them that I'm from Washington. I actually even met a member couple last night that grew up in Everett, so that was kind of cool. We get along pretty well and Sister Mendenhall and I bonded over our mutual dislike of cooked fruit (see mom, I told you it's totally normal!). 
I haven't met any super crazy people yet, one lady who was burning sage when we came over to ward off evil spirits, but that's about it. We did have dinner at one member's house though who's dad was staying with them. He's 98 and totally coherent and can walk around with pretty much no help and everything. Seriously, the guy is a beast for an old man. He was telling us about how he served his mission in Holland before WWII and about how being a Post Master used to be a political position so it would change depending on what the political affiliation of the president was.
Just Serve also just started here. We had the presentation on it on Sunday. Have any of you done anything with it yet? I guess here we aren't allowed to do anything off of it unless we're invited by a member, so that's kind of disappointing, but oh well.     
Well, that's about all that's been going down. Mostly just trying to get the hang of things around here and figure out the new area since Sister Mendenhall will be leaving soon and it's new to both Sister Stokes and I. But things are going well and I haven't died yet! (Although if I did there would be plenty of desert to bury me in). I hope that things are going well for you all and that you have a fantastic Christmas! Don't forget to remember Christ in all of your partying! Don't make me come up there and show you all the He's the gift video! (honestly, it's pretty good but I've seen it sooooo many times now). Also, there's rumors of getting ipads at the zone conference this week! So exciting things are happening. 

Love you all!


Monday, December 15, 2014

Hello from Tatooine !

Hello from Tatouine! (how do you spell that? I have no idea) and you thing that's a joke but it only kind of is, because apparently some of the filming for that area was actually done here in New Mexico. My first area is in the actual city of Albuquerque, in the Albuquerque West stake, Taylor Ranch ward. And basically New Mexico is exactly how you would expect it to be. Almost everyone lives in an adobe house, even our apartments are adobe, and everything is the color of a Mexican restaurant. The apartment building we live in is nacho cheese orange and our neighbors is guacamole green and if something isn't one of those two colors it's some shade of brown. Even the temple here is brownish. Almost all of our investigators are Hispanic (we have about 10 right now), almost everyone is Catholic, and there is no grass anywhere. People have rock yards here. Also, no one has rain gutters. The one day that it did rain (and it was like a drizzle), everyone was freaking out, the streets started flooding a little and the next day, people in their prayers were thanking God for the rain. Ha, that's not something that goes down regularly at home! Oh and it's averaging about 50 degrees here during the day, although there is a pretty big temperature range, it does get kind of cold at night (it's like this place is a desert or something!). Basically it's exactly like what you'd expect if you saw Breaking Bad. Speaking of which, the To'hajiilee reservation is like right next to our area. Hmm, I wonder if digging for drug money is an appropriate p-day activity, ha, ha. There are actually missionaries that serve out there but only Elders and they're really only service missions since there are weird proselyting rules on the reservation and all that jazz. 

The Taylor Ranch area itself is pretty well off. No one is like super rich or anything (at least that I've met) but there are some pretty big houses here and everyone has a lot of kids. I've met a lot of doctors, lawyers, business men, and the like. The ward though is really good, we've been fed every night that I've been here and people have been super willing to come out with us. We've had a member at almost every lesson so far and we've had a pretty good number. This past week we taught 7 lessons to investigators and 7 to less actives. So I'm pretty excited about the area, I really do feel like the people have done so well here because they have been blessed. 
I've already had lots of "picturesque" Christmas experiences here, what with the fancy houses. We've gone caroling to at least one house every night and then shared with them the Christmas story out of Luke 2. And we've been to a few members’ homes where people played the piano in front of the fire and everyone sang around it and all that type of stuff. I've also been to a few Christmas concerts. The last one I went to on Sunday I talked to a little kid who had just moved here from Rochester who was telling me all about how cool it is there.  

Love you all!