Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas as a missionary > Christmas as anyone else

Hi All :)

Oh my goodness, I've had the best week ever. Aaaaand today is my 15 week mark. So I mean that's cool too! It was so good to see you guys yesterday. I'm so proud of myself for not crying - for some reason I figured I would. It didn't feel like it'd been that long since I'd seen you, and I'll get to call you again when I am at the airport headed to Spain.

Anyhow, my week. So last Tuesday we made bread with Brother Finlayson.

He brought us a loaf a couple weekends ago and we had devoured it in like two days so he said we could come over one morning and he'd teach us how to do it. This stuff is heaven. Pure heaven. If anyone wants the recipe I'll send it. It's the best.

Wednesday was the Sister's Activity.
We ate lunch at Pizza Pie Cafe and then went to the mission home where we made bracelets, and cookies and gingerbread houses, and then had a gift exchange.

I'm really grateful for Sister McCune and her efforts to create a good time for us. She's seriously like a mom away from home and I really love that lady. At night we met with Anneliese. She was a referral from a Ward Mission Leader and she's really sweet. She has two kids (6 and 8) and the three of them are pretty shy. Oh oh! Wednesday night after we met with Anneliese we started walking home. It was FREEZING - the coldest it's been since I've been here, or at least it felt like it. We walked by Subway and thought it'd be a good idea to go in there for a few minutes just to get warm before we walked the rest of the way home. This guy Chad who was working there started talking to us. It was almost closing time, but he was like, "I'll make you a deal. Once a week you come in and if you teach me a lesson, I'll buy you dinner." Done. So we talked to him about Christ and gave him Joshua 1:9 to read. I already love him. We didn't recognize it at the time, but it was probably the Holy Ghost telling us to go into Subway and talk to Chad, not our little frozen selves wanting to get warm.

THURSDAY WAS THE BIG DAY - Sister Cha's 24th birthday and my 100th day in the mission!

We woke up at 5:30 to be at the temple at 7 and it was fantastic. We went to Timpanogos and it was so beauuuuutiful. It was really fun. We didn't have a ride back to Provo so this lady leaving offered us a ride home. For the 136817th time, people in Utah are so nice to missionaries. We went to Katia's for birthday cake and that was really fun. After dinner we had a lesson with Daisy. Her whole family joined the church a year or two ago, but at the last second she backed out. Her attitude has changed a lot though and she's willing to meet with us again. She's only 14, but so mature and really cute. I lovelovelove her. And they made Cha birthday cupcakes and a cinnamon streusel cake (but we gave the cake away so we don't get fat).

Friday was our Christmas Zone Conference. Ahhhh I love Zone Conferences!

Greg K. Olsen who is a famous painter for the church came and spoke to us. He had his pictures of Christ on a projector and he talked about the Savior. It was really really neat. Then we heard the final testimonies of the Elders leaving - Chavez, Ramires and Bishop (who is from Overland Park). I really enjoyed Bishop's. He said, "This isn't my final testimony - I'll be sharing it all my life." I love that. President spoke to us after that. He had us pretend like we were all in the living room at the mission home, having scripture study together. We read 2 Nephi 32:2-3, Moroni 7:29-31, D&C 31:5, and Matthew 11:28-30. We talked about us speaking with the tongue of angels by the power of the Holy Ghost. We talked about angels ministering to us and that as missionaries we are not alone. Angels are fighting for us and helping us with this great work that we're a part of. We read that the Savior is helping us too. We can come unto Him and He will give us rest, light, and truth. I love President McCune. He's truly inspired of God and loves us. We had a talent show after lunch and at the end six Elders sang this song called "Homeless." Soooo good. We watched Brave and then got all our presents and went home.

Sister Cha and I didn't wait until Christmas, even on the packages that said to wait (sorry Grandma).

Lately I've had this weird interest in family history and genealogy. Last week our zone had a class on family history work and how to do it, and since then I've wanted to spend all my time finding my ancestors and requesting that their ordinances be done. It's really cool! Saturday we went and saw Sister Baird (the lady who takes us to lunch every Monday) and she told us all these stories about her pioneer ancestors. Turns out her brother-in-law is President Hinckley! Pretty neat.

Christmas Eve was really fun. We went to Sister Baird's house and had dinner with her family.

Then all the grandkids did the nativity scene, which was precious. Little Eliza played Mary and it was pretty adorable.

We headed over to Katia's after that for more dinner (I'm so sick of eating). We had posole and tamales and all sorts of yummy Latin things.

Then came Christmas morning! Hoooray!

After I talked to you guys we went to Bishop Jakin's house for breakfast. Sister Jakins called all the Relief Society ladies and they bought us some Christmas presents! Yay for more nice people. We had fruit and french toast and muffins and then we put together a 500 piece puzzle. We came home and then we got picked up and went over to this Hawaiian families house (Mom they're from Kihei so you have to talk to them!). We played games and had dessert and it was really fun. It was the best Christmas ever. I loved being with families who felt like home.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! I'll talk to you in 2013 :)

Hermana Munden

Monday, December 17, 2012

'Tis the Season

Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Familia!

Well, I cut my hair last Monday. Probably 10 inches or so. It's the shortest it's been in my whole life and I honestly don't know what I was thinking. Oh well. I keep telling myself it's just hair and it'll grow back, but hopefully in 14 months it'll be as long as it was. Haha at least that's what I'm praying for.

Awkward Merry Christmas from me
The semester at BYU officially ended on Friday, so everyone's gone. This place is like a ghost town. It stinks because that means most of our investigators are gone, but we're making the most of it and spending a lot of time in the two family stakes we cover. But this was our last week with all of our people here until January 6 or so! That's so long. I already miss them.
This is pretty much our relationship

Tuesday we met with Stephanie. It didn't go so well. We ended up arguing about various things and the Spirit wasn't there and it was just a really unproductive meeting. I texted Bro. Adams afterwards because we were feeling really discouraged. Stephanie's friends have been telling us they felt strongly that she was going to get baptized on December 14th and they had so much faith and were so sure it was going to happen. But we didn't have the same feeling as the date got closer. Sister Cha and I were feeling really down and wondering what we were doing wrong. Were we lacking faith? Were we lacking in obedience or diligence? What were we doing wrong? Was Stephanie not getting an answer because of something we'd done? He said, "She'll get her answer when Heavenly Father wants her to have it. At times we need to remember that we cannot do it all. We can only do our part and that's all Heavenly Father wants for us to do. Now is the time for faith and patience. Put your trust in Him and you'll never go wrong." That made me feel better. Still bummed, but better. We saw her again on Friday and the feeling between us was back to normal. She had a chat with one of her law professors who joined the church when he was at BYU and she talked to us afterwards. She realizes that it's more likely than not that her answer will come as a feeling of peace and comfort. She'll know she's gotten her answer when she feels good about baptism, but right now she feels good about waiting, and that's okay! We're not really "teaching" her anymore, but we're there when she needs us and we're going to continue to visit her and support her. Stephanie is the best.

We saw Connor almost every single day this week. Haha it was awesome. He's probably sick of us by now, but that's okay. We know somewhere deep down we're his favorite sisters :) This kid is the best. We read scriptures with him, watched some Bible videos on and helped him study for his Intro to LDS final. Homeboy got a 92% so we're proud.

Saturday was the best day everrrrrrrr. It was the sealing of a family who got baptized last year. Sister Alley taught them and Sister Cha had them as recent coverts when she got to the area, so we all went.

Mama Cha and me the morning of the sealing!
It was really neat. I'd never been to a sealing before! First, Eduardo and Veronica were sealed. And then the children came in. I'd never met this family. I'd never even seen them before in my life. But as the family knelt down around the altar together, I started crying. Shoot, everyone was crying! The Spirit in that sealing room was incredible. I felt so strongly God's love for that family. They put their hands on top of each other, and they became sealed as a family for time and all eternity - stuck like glue forever and ever. The sealer had them hug and kiss and stand in front of the mirrors and see the generations that were now so positively effected. It was seriously the best. I can't wait to (one day) go to the temple with my husband and be sealed forevz. 
Garcia family at the temple!

Reunited with my mom at the sealing!
 Soooo this week we have a Sister's Activity with all the sisters in the mission. It's going to be the last one because we're getting 30 new sisters next month and there will be too many of us to do it anymore. So that's Wednesday, then Thursday is Sister Cha's birthday and my 100th day in the mission, so we're going to the Timpanogos temple (Provo is closed). Then Friday we have Christmas Zone Conference! Hooooray. Since Monday is Christmas Eve, we're not doing emails until Wednesday, so don't be surprised when you don't hear from me. Our district had interviews with President this last week and he also thinks the visa waiters will be leaving in January. We'll see! I'm just happy to be in Provo for Christmas.

I love this time of year so much! The presents, and lights, and songs, and glitter, and parties are all wonderful parts of Christmas, but it's important to remember that the reason we celebrate this season is because we celebrate the birth of our Savior! I know that He lives, and loves us. I'm grateful for the time I have this year to share that with the world (or at least Provo). The best gift any of us has ever received is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He is the way back home to our Father. This is one of my favorite quotes by Elder Holland, "There is not a single loophole or curveball or open trench to fall into for the man or woman who walks the path that Christ walks. When He says, 'Come, follow me,' He mans that He knows where the quicksand is and where the thorns are and the best way to handle the slippery slope near the summit of our personal mountains. He knows it all, and He knows the way. He is the way."

I love you all! Talk to you Tuesday :)


Hermana Munden

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Think the best of each other, especially those you say you love. Assume the good and doubt the bad."

Hi Family :)

Wednesday was transfer day! I love transfer day a whole lot. Elders Salvador and Hifo went home so that was pretty sad. I'm gonna miss those guys. Elder Salvador is from Brazil and Elder Hifo is from Tonga.
Elder Salvador and me on transfer day
Us with Elder Hifo
Oh! Since I'm staying at BYU for another transfer, I ordered an English name tag. I'm actually really excited about it, even though this will probably be the only English area I'll ever be in. Haha oh well!

Last night we went to see Katia and her girls. We brought Emily with us again (she's getting ready to serve in Brazil so she comes teaching with us sometimes) and afterwards she was like, "Guys, something really cool just happened. I didn't understand any of that (we teach her in Spanish), but I still felt the Spirit!" Yep, pretty awesome how it works like that. When I was in my last area and we'd go to the Portuguese ward, I didn't understand anything, but I always knew the Spirit was there. I'm glad Emily was able to experience that.

Thursday we met with Connor. We talked a lot about the Bible and the Book of Mormon and how they support each other. I felt like I should ask him if he believed the Book of Mormon was true. He said he thinks he's getting close and that the question of it's truth is a part of his daily prayers. Yay Conman :)

Connor's Christmas tree!
Friday morning we went to the temple with Ashley for her first time! It was INCREDIBLE. Since we're missionaries, we couldn't do baptisms with her, but we did confirmations and watched her do baptisms. She looked so preeeeettty, and of course, Sister Cha and I cried. Pathetic. Afterwards she told us she was really nervous, even more nervous than she was for her own baptism. Silly girl. It was awesome though. I just love her.

Friday we contacted this referral we got a couple weeks ago. Her name is Rachel and her sister is a convert, so that's how she knows about the church. I'm really excited about her. And she's really excited too! She has all these questions and things she wants to learn about, so it's pretty cool. We talked about our purpose as missionaries and she told us she'd never really prayed before, but that she thought being able to communicate with God was pretty neat, so we taught her how to pray. Before we left we asked if she'd like to offer a prayer and she did it! It was super neat. She thinks prayer is the best - and it is. I'm excited to meet with her on Friday.

We had dinner that night with this really cute family. The wife's dad was one of my professors at BYUI, so that was weird. The church is suuuuuch a small world. After dinner we went to the Barlow's (the people who live above us) and made gingerbread houses. Mine fell over, but Sister Cha's is still alive and well!

My gingerbread house, while it lasted
Yesterday we had two speaking assignments in two different YSA wards. I talked about Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and Sister Cha talked about Him as our King. It went pretty well and the rest of the Christmas programs we're beauuuutiful. I love Christmas hymns (and being all around these Mormons who can sing and play instruments haha). Last night we visited Connor and watched the Joy to the World DVD with him. He liked it and said he was going to watch it with his family when he goes home for Christmas. AND we have lunch with him in about half an hour. Hooray!

Well, that's all I've got. It's been snowing the last couple days, so it's finally starting to look and feel like Christmas. We still haven't heard from President about what the phone/skype situation will be, so I'll get back to you on that. Well, I love you all! Thanks for the support and letters :)

Hermana Munden

Monday, December 3, 2012

Day 83

Hi Family!

So the big news this week is transfers. We got our call this morning, and Sister Cha and I will be staying together at BYU for the next 6 weeks. Hooooraaaaay! Mostly I wanted to stay for Stephanie and Connor; the American food and Sister Cha were just bonuses :)

Our district and our Zone Leaders (Elders Krieger, Elliott, Fry, Frassa, Baisden, Harker, me, Sister Cha)

Last Monday we met with Katia. We'd been to visit her a few times before (I think I mentioned her). We decided to start visiting and teaching her more often. We talked about prayer and the Holy Ghost. She said she was really grateful for what we shared. She's seriously the sweetest lady and I really like her. After the lesson she fed us tacos and rice and fruit. Ermahgersh, soooo goood. I'm moving in with her. I told her daughters that I'm trying to learn 200 words every 6 weeks so they were going around the house pointing at things and asking if I knew what they were. I got like 8 new words that night!

Tuesday we saw Justin and Stephanie! We brought Bro. Adams with us and it was the best. Justin got called into work and that was a major bummer, but it was still good to be with Stephanie. Bro. Adams shared his conversion story, which may or may not have put Sister Cha and me in tears (and by that I mean it did). That guy seriously has the best story and it gets better every time I hear it. I felt like it was something that Stephanie needed to hear, so I'm glad he was able to share his testimony with her. She told us that the night before she'd been with her friend James and his wife and he had said that he felt impressed to tell her she should get baptized on December 14th. Sister Cha and I looked at each other and started crying again (shut up, the gospel does that to us okay?) because we'd been praying about it and felt like Stephanie was getting baptized on that day too! So nuts. Bro. Adams had to leave at that point and after he did, the three of us knelt down and Stephanie offered a prayer asking if she should get baptized December 14th. She told us that she wasn't going to ignore the fact that three different people all had that date on the brain, so I'm really excited to hear how she's been feeling this week about baptism. I love her muchiiiiiisimo.

Thursday I saw four people I knew in the space of like an hour. That's what happens when I'm serving at BYU. Haha I wish I didn't know so many people here. But I saw Jordan Hale, Andy Nelson, Amy's little sister Bri, and Mette Petersen. So that was kind of awesome. Thursday night we tried to contact some people who had previously been investigating the church, but for some reason or another they stopped. Jessie came with us and we visited with this girl Brianna. She made it very clear that she belongs to the Pentecostal church and that she only believes in the Bible. After we talked with her a little bit I shared Joshua 1:9 with her. It's neat how the Spirit tells us what scripture will help people. I don't know what's going on in her life, but I knew that hearing, "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." would help her. Sister Cha and Jessie bore their testimonies too and it was cool. I have a really good feeling about Brianna and I hope she calls us when she gets back from Christmas break.

Friday we had a good lesson with Connor. With him, we've taught everything that needs to be taught before baptism, but he's told us he wants to take things slow and not rush into getting baptized because he wants his dad to be able to be there when it does happen. We were planning to talk about the power and blessings of the Priesthood, but when we got there, Sister Cha and I both felt like that wasn't the way the lesson was going to go. It was awesome though, because he ended up having questions about what he was reading in the Book of Mormon. He had been reading in 1 Nephi 13 which is about Nephi prophesying of things that have happened in our American history. We talked a lot about the Bible and the Book of Mormon and how they testify of each other. He really loved that. Pretty neat. I love that kid.

Saturday was ASHLEY'S BAPTISM! And definitely the best part of my week. She had asked us to say the opening and closing prayers, which made me feel pretty cool. A TON of people were there. Like both rooms were full and people we're lined up against the walls.
My favorite part of baptisms is when the person actually goes in the water. I don't know, that's just when I feel the Spirit the strongest. And they always come up with the biggest smile on their face! I like that I get to be apart of that. It's the coolest feeling in the world.

Sunday morning we went to church with Ashley to be at her confirmation. Since it was fast and testimony meeting too, she got up and bore her testimony. I was in tears. She's so happy to be a member of this church and she knows it's true. Her testimony was so pure and simple, but so so powerful. Then we went to Sam's church (he's a recent convert of about 2 months) and got to be there when he was ordained a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. He was so excited. AHHHHHH I LOVE THE GOSPEL. He made us dinner that night and we watched the First Presidency Christmas devotional. I hope everyone got to see it! It doesn't really feel like Christmas - it's December 3rd and I'm not even wearing a coat (not that I'm complaining) - but that helped it feel a little more like Christmastime.

I don't know what the plan is yet for Christmas, but I'm excited to talk to everyone! 22 days!

Hermana Munden