Monday, October 29, 2012

My first week on BYU and my first baptism :)

So much has happened, I don't even know where to start. Transfers were Wednesday. Everything is so different - the area, my companion, our investigators, everything. It's taking some getting used to, that's for sure. Sister Cha is awesome though and we get along so well. We're basically the same person. She helps me a lot with my Spanish and I've made it a goal to learn 200 new words every transfer (which is about 5 words a day). It's also nice not being in a trio for once, and teaching in English, I feel like I get to say more in lessons than I was before.

It's been SO cold lately. I'm wearing so many clothes all the time; tights, leggings, my dress, a cardigan, a coat, and scarf, and it's still not enough! It doesn't help that our house doesn't have heat. Some days I wake up early and take a hot shower just to get back in bed because I'm so cold. It's rough. AND this is a walking area. I didn't realize how spoiled we were with our car until I came here. Please mail me a car! That'd be just fantastic.

On Wednesday after transfers we got right to work. We had dinner with our investigators (Justin and Stephanie) and their member friends (James and Kendra), and then had a lesson. Justin and Stephanie are so great. They've been taught all the lessons, they're reading their scriptures and going to church, and they know a ton. The problem is that they want to know everything before they get baptized. Right now they're hung up on the nature of God - who He was before He was our Heavenly Father, and how He became who He is. From what I understand, they feel like not knowing everything is affecting their relationship with Him and that until they get the answers they want, they can't get baptized. That's hard for me. I was baptized when I was 8 years old, didn't know half of what I do now, and I don't expect to know everything in this life. But knowing that God is my Father, that He loves me and that He is all-knowing, is enough for me. Some things we just have to take on faith, knowing that more light and truth will be given to us with time and as we're seeking for it.

Hey Paola Ward people, this is for you! Sister Cha and I had a meeting this week with Phil Hickman. He asked where I was from and we got talking about Kansas. I guess he was in the Paola Ward for 23 years or something? He asked about the Kesters and the Cunninghams, Gerry Sue, and Iris! It made me miss the Paola Ward so bad; it was great to meet him.

On Thursday we met with Connor. He first heard about the Church two years ago in Connecticut with his family. His dad was diagnosed with cancer in February, so he says his family has gotten really close through prayer for his dad. He decided to come to BYU because it's a conservative school with high standards. When he came out here, his roommates took him to watch the Joseph Smith movie at Temple Square and then he met and talked with some sister missionaries there. Apparently he'd been having bi-weekly appointments with them over the phone, but they encouraged him to meet with real live missionaries, so that's when he called us! He's so awesome. All the nonmember students here have to take an Intro to the LDS Church class, so he's in that, and he's been reading the Book of Mormon and praying a lot. He got to go to General Conference and he said the Spirit he felt there, in the same room as the living Prophet and Apostles, was incredible. We're meeting with him again on Wednesday and I can't wait to talk to him about the message that we can live with our families forever!

Saturday morning we had a lesson with Sonya. Sister Cha said she'd been progressing really quickly and she even had a date set to get baptized (this last Saturday), but that lately she's kind of hit a wall. She's not even really sure she has faith in God anymore. We watched the moving Finding Faith in Christ with her and the Spirit quickly came into the room. I almost started crying as I bore my testimony that God lives. My voice began to shake as I explained to her that her feelings of doubt and fear did not come from God. I encouraged her to remember the feelings she'd had before as she read and prayed and made the decision to be baptized. Yesterday we fasted for her in the hopes that she would begin to regain that faith she's seemed to have lost.

The highlight of my week was definitely Saturday afternoon. I had my first baptism! She has an incredible story and it was probably one of the coolest things I've been apart of. So many people were there -- 50-60. The Spirit was incredible and she was so happy. She texts us every day and tells us she's still on cloud nine.

Last night we had dinner with the Gill family. They live up by the Y and have a beauuuuutiful home. They said Sunday dinners are always really big (they had like 10-15 kids from BYU over; some of their kids' friends, some they knew from past wards, and then us). It was awesome. One of the guys that was there served in Madrid, and another one served in the Louisville Mission! I talked to them and that was really awesome. Speaking of dinners, it's fantastic eating American food again. I'm going to miss it when I get to Spain!

I think that's about it! Today we're going to a corn maze with our district and one of their investigator's who's getting baptized on Saturday, so I'm looking forward to that! Halloween is Wednesday and the movie President McCune approved us to watch is Narnia. We stop proselyting at 5 and get to have a little party with our district and watch our movie. Yay for Halloween! I love and miss you all. I can't believe how the time is flying. I never want to leave :)

Hermana Munden

P.S. A high council member told me on Sunday that the Spain Ambassador was actually at the MTC this last week and that he promised to do something about the Visa situation! Maybe I'll spend Christmas in Spain?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Transfer Week!

I've officially been in the field longer than I was in the MTC! Finalllllllly. I guess I'll start with the big news first. We got our transfer calls on Saturday afternoon. This last week went by soooo slow waiting for our calls. But here's what's happening for the next six weeks. Hermana Alley is going to Payson speaking Spanish, Hermana Soto is going to stay here in Provo East speaking English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and I'm going to BYU Campus speaking English. I'm really gonna miss Provo East. There are so many cool people we're teaching that have come so much closer to Christ and I'm sad I won't be here if and when they decide to get baptized, but President McCune will let us come back for baptisms, so I'm glad about that. I have mixed feelings about serving at BYU. I'm excited I get to stay here in Provo, but kinda bummed about serving in English. I mean it's kind of awesome because, well, I speak English. But I'm nervous that my Spanish is going to get worse than it already is. The good thing though is that my companion, Sister Cha, is from Nicaragua, so she can help me keep practicing so I don't lose it before I get to Spain.

Alright. So this week has had more downs than ups, but that's okay. Our guy Adao from the Portuguese ward in Orem was supposed to get baptized this past Saturday. He was going to be our only baptism this whole transfer! But he hasn't been going to church and he has to go at least two times in a row before he gets baptized, so we have to push his date back a little bit. Kind of a bummer, but he's still really excited about it and knows he's making the right decision, so that's really good.
We had some awesome lessons with Michelle this week. She's told us she needs to get baptized, but she's lacking the faith that she's good enough to take that step and that she can truly be forgiven of her sins. The other day in my personal study I read Mosiah 26:22 and thought of Michelle. It says that whoever will believe in Christ, repent and baptized, will be freely forgiven. We spent our lesson that night talking to her about forgiveness. I think she's feeling better about the idea that we can be freely forgiven, and she also recognizes the importance of forgiving others. She's had some pretty terrible stuff happen to her and she told us since talking to us she's been able to talk to some people for the first time in years and tell them she forgives them. Yay Michelle! I know how hard it is to forgive people sometimes, so I'm really proud of her. We invited her to come to church with us on Sunday because it was mine and Hermana Alley's last Sunday and guess what. She came! And she brought her husband and 7 of her 8 kids. Oh goodness, it made my whole day. We also two more of our investigators there and a couple less active couples. And the theme in Sacrament Meeting was missionary work and the restoration of the gospel, so it was a good one for them to come to.

Wednesday night we had dinner at Cafe Rio with one of our recent converts and this guy who was there with his girlfriend came up to us and offered to pay for us! How sweet. We figured we shouldn't deny this kind man the blessings that would come from helping the missionaries, so we accepted his offer. Haha and then Thursday we went and got Jamba Juice and they gave it to us for free. Being a missionary in Provo is for real the best. After Jamba Juice we went home and I accidentally through my scriptures in the trash in the garage. So that was awesome. I had to have Bro. Dickson help me get them out. Oopsies. They don't stink or anything though. So I mean that's a plus.

Friday morning we had DTM (District Training Meeting) and Hermana Alley gave the spiritual thought. She shared Alma 26:16 and it's my new favorite scripture. Go look it up! It's a good one. We went out for pizza as a district afterwards and these two gentlemen who were eating with their families paid for us. Sweeties. Saturday afternoon after we got done with all our scheduled appointments, we walked by Bro. Adams house (he's in our area) to see if he was home. He was! It was good to see him - I've missed that guy. Now I wanna go find my other teachers! He made me give a spiritual thought, as only an MTC teacher would, and then we left. Afterwards we went to dinner at this lady's house. It was a nasty sweet potato and pea soup. I wish so badly that I'd eaten more weirdo vegetables and stuff when Mom tried to make me because if I had, I wouldn't be so picky now. It's a real problem. I hate almost every dinner we have. I'm excited about serving in English wards because I might finally get normal food for once!

I'm sad about leaving Hermana Alley. She's been such an awesome first companion/trainer. She thinks I'm funny even when I'm not, she encourages me, and she loves being a missionary. She's so easy to love. I think I got lucky with her and I know I'm not always going to have companions as great as she is, but I feel blessed and grateful that I got to spend my first three weeks with her. I still love being a missionary. I'm the happiest I've been in a long time and I feel my testimony growing every single day. One of the things I like best about being a missionary is the love I've developed for the scriptures. They're so good! An hour of scripture study every morning is never enough! My scriptures are covered in colors and notes and I love it.

I think that's it! I always feel like I've forgotten stuff, but this week wasn't too terribly exciting. I hope everyone is healthy and happy. Thanks for all your support.

Hermana Munden

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Happy 1 month to meeee!

I can't believe I've hit my one month mark. This has been the busiest/best month of my life. I had a couple really cool experiences with some of our investigators this week. I think I mentioned Idalid; we found her just one day knocking. She's incredible, and somewhat of a "golden investigator." The hard thing with her is finding a time when she's home. I don't think she understands that when we make appointments with her, that means we will be coming over at that time, because she's usually not home. But every time she is, she lets us in and we have an awesome lesson. She's so interested and willing and already has such great faith! We visited her on Wednesday and talked a lot about prayer. The three of us bore testimony of the power of prayer and why it's a commandment. We taught her the way we pray and asked if she'd pray with us. At first she said she was too embarrassed, but after we showed her a simple example, she prayed herself! It was so cool. We left her with the Introduction to the Book of Mormon to read and pray about and she said she would. We haven't seen her since Wednesday because she hasn't been home, but I'm so excited to go back!

That same day we had an appointment with this woman named Doris. She's in her mid-20's and hasn't been progressing. This time we asked her directly if she was interested in our church and just as directly she said, "Honestly, no." Dropping investigators is so sad, but we always let them know that we're still here for them and care about them. Even though Doris isn't interested, we've started teaching her sister-in-law, Kelly. She's 26 and here from Venezuela learning English. She lives with 3 members who go to BYU. She's most interested about the Book of Mormon so we started talking about that, along with prayer. She listens so intently, asks questions, wants to come to church, and the Spirit is always so strong when we're with her. We have an appointment with her tonight at 6, which we're all pretty excited about.

We had another really awesome lesson with Michele. Her daughter Lucia has been sitting in on lessons which is also really cool. Lucia speaks more English than Spanish, so the English Elders in our area teach her (and her boyfriend Anthony), but we still always welcome her in our lessons and even though she's kind of quiet, I know she's listening. Towards the end of the lesson, Lucia goes, "I'm gonna be honest. When I first heard of the Mormons I thought you guys were crazy. I really did. But when I read the Book of Mormon I get this feeling. It's the same feeling I get when you and the Elders come into our house. It's a safe feeling. It's comforting. Like even though when I wake up in the morning and think today's going to be another bad day, I can go to sleep knowing that everything will be okay. It's a feeling that tells me that God loves me and is looking out for me. It's making me a different person. I don't really know how to explain it, but I don't want it to go away." Oh my goodness. It was the best thing in the world. I love Lucia and Michele.

Last night we went tracting after dinner because all of our appointments fell through and we ran into this crazy cat lady. She has 20 something cats and I guess animal control has been called a few times. She's sweet, but extremely odd. She asked us to come in and leave her with a prayer of health and safety. And she asked me to say it. It was super awkward and I had no idea what to say that would make this crazy cat lady feel safe and healthy, but she really appreciated it so I guess that's all that matters! Haha she told us she served a mission, but her neighbor said she's never been baptized, so I'm not quite positive she's all the way there. Her neighbor is really cool though. She's 26 and from Brazil and is a single mom. She's a member and she said she'd feed us whenever we want! She also is the manager of the Forever 21 in Orem and said she'd hook us up with some free clothes. Hooray for that.

Speaking of food, oh my gosh. I wanna die. I think we're gonna try to cut our dinners with members down to only 3 days a week because we just can't handle all the food. Haha it's good, but way too much. And they get offended when we don't eat it all. We go to the faculty gym at BYU every morning though, so that makes the situation a little better. I'm going to enjoy that luxury while it lasts.

One of my companions has been struggling lately. I think she really misses home and has had a couple down days this week. We brought one of her family friends with us to teach a lesson and afterwards when we walked Maria home, Maria grabbed her, and in the most loving, firm way, she said, "When you get back to your apartment, go answer these three questions... One, who are you? Two, why are you here? Three, what is your goal? And when you have a bad day, read your answers." It was awesome. So the next day during personal study, I answered those questions for myself. This is what I came up with. Who am I? I am a daughter of God. I am literally the daughter of a king and an heir to a royal throne. I have a divine heritage. Jesus Christ, the most perfect man to ever walk the Earth, is my brother, friend, and my Savior. I am a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am a servant of the Lord. I am His hands in the great work of gathering His lost sheep. I am a Mormon. I am a representative of Jesus Christ and I wear his name proudly. Why am I here? I am here because I love God. I am here because after all Christ sacrificed for me, and all His selfless love has allowed me to do, 18 months of my life dedicated to Him will never seem like enough. I am here because I want to be. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I want to share my knowledge of truth, happiness, peace, and love with everyone that will listen. I am here because I have been called by God himself, through a living prophet, to serve the people of Provo Utah and Madrid Spain. What is my goal? My goal is to invite as many people as I can to come unto Christ, and to show them the goodness of the Gospel. My goal is to love others with all my heart; to care less about myself and more about them. My goal is to help people see, recognize, and feel the love God has for them and that their life has great purpose. My goal is to change - to be truly converted unto the Lord. My goal is to make myself, my mission presidents, my family, and ultimately, my Heavenly Father proud.


Hermana Munden

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

One week down, and not enough to go

Oh my goodness gracious. I don't even know where to start. I LOVE being a missionary. It's just about my favorite thing in the world. Let's start with General Conference. HOW ABOUT THAT MISSIONARY ANNOUNCEMENT? I'm pretty sure there were probably gasps all around the world. How exciting! I would've gone on a mission in a second if I could have two years ago. I think a lot more young people (as Grandpa Wayne would call them) will be going on missions now that the age limit has been reduced - especially sister missionaries. I love love looooved the rest of Conference. I heard all the things I needed to and was super uplifted and re-motivated. I don't know if you watched the Sunday morning session, but if you did, I was on the TV! During "Called to Serve" the camera panned over the section of missionaries right in front and you could definitely see us for like 5 seconds. It was so incredible to be in the same building as the Prophet and so many other General Authorities. Before the session started we got to talk to and hug the General Primary President and a couple members of the Seventy and their wives. They all were so appreciative of our service and it was neat to get to meet them.

The funniest thing from this week happened on Saturday. Sometimes we park in the Taco Bell parking lot to either go to the bathroom or because it's a convenient location to leave our car while we walk to investigator's homes. We had just come out of Taco Bell and were getting back in our car when we saw this guy ride up on his motorcycle. The back of his shirt said Wilson and he had gauges in his ears. We figured he wasn't a member, so Hermana Soto was like, "Hermanas, let's go teach him!" But right after she said that he rode off on his bike; literally no more than two minutes later he drove back and parked his bike again. Hermana Soto goes, "Oh my gosh it's a sign!" So while deciding whether or not to give him a Book of Mormon, I say, ""I think that kid could use the Gospel," and Hermana Soto goes, "Hermana, the whole world could use the Gospel, but you're right - especially Wilson." We about died of laughter. It was so funny. Now we call him Wilson because that's what his shirt said, even though we don't know his real name. While he was still inside Taco Bell we ran out and placed a Book of Mormon on his bike and moved our car to a less obvious location to watch what happened. He came outside, picked up the book, looked around, kept it, and sped away. Who knows what will happen, but it was a pretty funny (and hopefully productive) moment.

This week has been good. We usually teach 3 or 4 lessons a day. It's hard because a lot of people are too nice to tell us that they don't want us to come back and teach them, so we make an appointment and then when we come back they're not home or they make up an excuse as to why we can't come in. It's kinda sad. But we do have 4 or 5 progressing investigators, which is really cool! There's this couple, Michele and Nelson who we've been teaching. They seem really interested. They keep all their commitments, and are reading and praying which is so so good. The Spirit is so strong in our lessons with them. It's cute because Michele has all these cards and things marking spots in her Book of Mormon and she shares with us cool stuff she read. She says she likes taking her kids fishing because it's the only time she has where she can just sit down by herself, and read from the Book of Mormon and Bible. It's awesome. She has a baptism date set for October 27th, so hopefully we can get her to church with us a few times before then so she can be baptized. There's another guy named Adao whose baptism is scheduled for a week from Saturday! We went over the baptismal interview questions with him on Thursday and it was so awesome to hear his testimony of all these things like Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, a modern day prophet, the Word of Wisdom, and everything else we've taught him. His faith is incredible and I can't wait to see him get baptized! Eddie is my other favorite investigator. He's just 15 years old, has read the whole Book of Mormon, goes to seminary, and is so, so eager to learn. On Thursday we taught him the Plan of Salvation and spent time answering his questions. Before we left we readdressed the issue of baptism. We knelt down with him and he offered a prayer about whether or not baptism is the right thing for him. At one point he said, "God I believe in you. I know you're there and whatever you ask of me, I'll do. Thank you for sending these sisters to me." It was all Hermana Alley and I could do not to cry. Prayers of sincere investigators are so powerful. The other day when we called him to see how his prayers about baptism were going he told us that he wants to get baptized in the Catholic church first and then in the Mormon church. So that was a little disappointing and confusing, but we have an appointment with him tonight so we'll talk to him about that.

It's incredible how much people in Provo love the missionaries. We get so much free food it's insane. It's awesome. I probably shouldn't get too used to it though since that's never gonna happen in Spain. Speaking of Spain, I still haven't heard anything. I'm okay with that though because I love it here in Provo.

Jessie Drake lives in our area so I'm going to try and see if she wants to come out and teach with us sometime - especially because she can go on a mission in less than a year if she wants to! I love and miss you all.


Hermana Munden

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 2 in Provo

My new address is:
Hermana Munden
85 North 600 E
Provo, UT 84606

I'm in the mission field! I had almost forgotten what it's like to ride in a car and experience the outside world. That being said, I miss the little MTC bubble I lived in for three weeks. I had a good last day though. Since Sunday was Fast Sunday we had Mission Conference with everyone there. The MTC Presidency spoke and then someone in the Missionary Department from Salt Lake. Sacrament meeting was the best. I love hearing other missionaries' testimonies and conversion stories. They're so uplifting and inspiring and give me the extra boost I need to keep going. My favorite part about night time at the MTC was when we got to our residence, we had the windows open and could hear the elders singing "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" in Spanish as they walked home. I'm gonna miss that so much. It was such a happy way to fall asleep.
It's so strange that yesterday morning I woke up in the MTC, and I went to bed at my new home in the field. Yesterday was so overwhelming. I had to say goodbye to my companions, my district, and a couple other elders I became friends with. It was the saddest thing! I spent every minute of every day with these people and now I won't see them for two years. Waaaaah. Hermana Barrera and I left the MTC at 2:30 and drove to the Utah Provo Mission home with the three elders who have also been reassigned while they wait for their Spain visas. I met my Mission President and I already love him. He said in my interview that he can tell I'm going to be a great missionary, and I really needed that. He also made a point of telling me that right now, this is my mission. He and the other missionaries are going to treat me like one of their own, not as someone who's here temporarily, and I really liked that. Then I met my new companions! I'm in another trio. I feel like there are some ups and downs to teaching in threes, but so far it's all I know, so I don't really mind. Hermana Alley is from Indiana and Hermana Soto is from Spain! Hermana Alley has been out for a year and Hermana Soto for two months.
Last night we were at it right away. We knocked on some doors in our and we came across this family talking outside. One of their friends was outside with them and we struck up a conversation with him. His name is Arturo and he's from Mexico. He's been in Utah for about 4 years and he's single. His wife left him for another man after 38 years of marriage, so he's struggling with that. We talked to him for probably half an hour and after a while he actually told us he'd been baptized in the Church. He's just not active anymore. I felt the Spirit so strongly when we were with him and I know that God loves him. He's a really good man, and seems so smart. I think he's really lonely, so I'm glad we got to talk to him. And we have an appointment with him on Thursday!
Next was our appointment with Clara and Joel. Hermana Soto went on splits with some girl from the ward, so it was just Hermana Alley and me. The Ward Mission Leader and his wife were at Clara and Joel's house when we got there. Clara fed us cake and horchata (I think that's how you spell it). Oh my gosh, soo good. I've had horchata before, but the homemade stuff is a thousand times better. Then we started our lesson, talking about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hermana Alley taught most of it, but I bore my testimony about prophets. The Spirit was so strong as Hermana Alley was teaching these people. I guess Clara had been having some pain in her legs and wrists, so Hermano Bailey gave her a blessing. It was really neat. He sat down with her and explained what a priesthood blessing was and how it was going to happen. He then gave her the most beautiful blessing. Afterwards we asked her how she felt. She said she felt chills, and a calm and peaceful feeling. We told her it was the Spirit and she said it was a beautiful feeling. I love teaching real people!
Hermana Soto has a family friend from Spain who lives in our area, so we went to her house for lunch. We had these weird meat things. Ew, not a fan. Some of it looked like sausage with pepper, and the other stuff was called jamon cerana I think. It looked like raw bacon, but definitely didn't taste like bacon. Hermana Soto was so excited to eat it because I guess it's one of her favorite things, but Hermana Alley just gave me a look and was like, "Don't worry, we'll go eat a real lunch." I probably need to learn to like this stuff because it's what I'll be eating in Spain, but right now, I think I'll stick with my American food, thank you very much.
We live in the basement of a member's home; it's a million times more space than I had in the MTC. I like the schedule here a lot more, too. We wake up at 6:10, workout until 7, then take turns showering and getting ready. Personal study is for an hour at 8, companionship study is for two hours at 9 and then at 11 we do language study. Then we have lunch and don't leave the house until about 1. It's so nice to have all that time in the morning to study so I feel prepared for our lessons throughout the day. Tonight we have a few appointments, so hopefully they don't fall through!
Basically, life is goooood. It's strange serving in Provo. I'm nervous I'm going to see someone I know and not be able to run up and hug them and carry on like a normal human being. Haha that's okay, though. We live like 5 minutes from Alec and Irene's and pass the MTC at least twice a day. I'm excited to be here and it's incredible how much I already care about the people we're teaching. That's how it should be though, so I'm glad it's coming naturally. This Sunday, we're going to the morning session of General Conference, and I CAN'T WAIT! General Conference are my favorite days of the year and I'm thrilled I actually get to attend a session!