Friday, July 29, 2016

A bit from her letter to me...

This week Hermana Orton did more cross-fit with me. You should have seen me trying to do a pull up, it was pretty pathetic, but super fun. 

Also, one of the Elders in our district got very sick yesterday. This morning he had to go to the hospital. We think he might have a mixture of the flu and some blod-clots but we are not really sure. Anyway, I love seeing how our district comes together. All of the Elders are having to play mommy, and take turns going to the hospital for 12 hours at a time. They are all super willing to help out, and it is awesome. It´s also pretty cool because our whole district is planning to fast for him today. Our district has become really close, and it will be really hard to leave them soon

I am learning what it is like to live for P-Day!  I love hearing from her.  I love being part of her mission through her emails.  I know that service brings joy, and allows us opportunities to learn.  Hermana Monson is awesome!!

More fun pictures. LOVE THEM!

Week 5 in the CCM! (July 28, 2016)

Hola everyone! 

This has been a pretty good week so far, and I can´t believe I will be leaving the CCM in a week and a half! 

Our last P-Day was tons of fun because we decided to get magnum bars from La Tienda. They were worth every peso! After that we played district kickball, and it started to rain. When it rains in Mexico, it RAINS! We played in the rain for a little while, and by the time we returned to our casas, we looked like we had just gotten out of the swimming pool!

In our casa there are 6 American hermanas, and 12 Latino ones. The Latinos always wash their clothes by hand in the big sink we have in the laundry room. One night we got home, and they asked us if we could show them how to use the washers and dryers because none of them have ever used one before. It was pretty funny with Hermana Bowers and I trying to explain in Spanish how to work the washers and dryers. There were lots of hand motions, and confused looks, and laughs. I love the Latinos, they are so cute!

This week for our service we went to the main laundry facility in the CCM. We helped a bunch of the Latino workers fold sheets for the beds. We talked to a little old man named Jose, and he told us all about how he loves Katy Perry, and Disney music. He was so adorable, and we loved him! We are hoping we get to go back to the laundry facility this week to visit him.

One of the Elders in my district was in charge of conducting choir this week, so we dragged everyone with us to choir. I think it meant a lot to him that we were all there to support him. Our song sounded pretty bad when we were practicing, but thankfully during the performance it actually sounded really nice (there must have been some angelic help in there somewhere).

Our devotional this Tuesday was one of my favorite devotionals I have ever heard! We heard from the Area Seventy, Elder Salinas. He was so animated, and he talked such rapid Spanish that the poor translator had a really hard time keeping up. You could tell that he really believed what he was talking about, and was very excited about the gospel. He talked about how our success as missionaries comes when we feel the Spirit of the Lord working through us, not when we baptize hundreds of people. It was amazing!

Other than that it was a pretty normal week. One final thought from my scripture reading this week. I was reading in Ephesians 3:17,19. It says "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye, being rooted and grounded in love...may know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with the fulness of God." I think being "rooted and grounded in love" means that love is the basis for everything we do. It is the answer to all of life´s challenges, and we fall back on it in every situation. Sometimes, it can be difficult to love everyone we meet. However, that´s what the Savior did, so that is what we should strive to do! 

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Love, Hermana Monson

Pictures from Hermana Monson's trip to the Mexico City Temple! Beautiful!

Hola from the CCM! (July 21, 2016)

Hola everyone! 

I hope everyone is doing well, and you are all enjoying your summers! 

Last P-Day we got the chance to go to the Mexico City Temple to do a session. The temple was absolutely beautiful, and so was the visitors center. I loved the pictures inside the temple because a lot of the people in the picutres were Latino, so that was pretty cool. It was awesome to be in a session with so many missionaries. We received headphones so that we could understand what was going on, and it was just awesome! The bus ride was pretty cool too, lots of people waved at the school bus full of nicely dressed white kids as we drove by. I felt like we really stood out compared to the rest of the craziness in the city. I loved seeing more of the city, it is such a crazy place, but the people are very friendly!

This week my companion and I have had a couple of pretty crazy lessons with our investigators. Our first investigator, Camila (who is actually our teacher Hermana Martinez), is having lots of problems with her boyfriend. We decided that we wanted to find out more about her situation so that we could know how to help her. We really didn't have to ask very many questions before she ended up telling us that she's pregnant, and her mom is super angry at her for getting pregnana, and she is thinking about getting an abortion. We had no clue what to say. We had an entire lesson prepared about the Restoration, but it really didn't seem like the right time to share it. Instead, we both found a couple of scriptures to help her. We bore testimony that God loves her, and I think it ended up being a pretty good lesson. Now we just have to figure out what to teach her next time!

Another crazy lesson was with out investigator Mariano (who is actually our teacher Hermano Castro). We were teaching him about the Plan of Salvation, and when we got to the part about the Spirit world, he asked if we can see the Spirits. We told him that normally we don't see Spirits, because they don't have physical bodies. He proceeded to tell us all about how he sees Spirits all the time, in his house, whenever he does his homework. For some reason, his story struck me and Hermana Hirschi as incredibly funny. We literally could not control our laughing, we tried so hard to hold it in, and find some sort of response, but to no avail. Thankfully, Hermano Castro thought it was pretty funny, and so started laughing too. We were forced to tell Mariano that we would discuss that more next week, end with a prayer, and rush into the hall before we bursted out laughing again. It was definitely one of our more entertaining lessons, and now we also have to figure out how to make ammends for that next time we teach him!

This week two of the Hermanas in my district received Priesthood blessings from some of the Elders in our district. I was really glad that I got to be there during the blessings. It just reminded me that the Priesthood is so real, and how grateful I am to be surrounded by so many worthy Priesthood holders. Even though the Elders are a little crazy at times, it was cool to see how seriously they took the blessings.

Other than that, it is has been a pretty normal week. Gym time is my saving grace between sitting in classes all day. Hermana Orton, in my district, does a lot of cross-fit so she led us in some cross-fit workouts this week, which was pretty fun. We are planning to play district volleyball later today, which should be great as well. 

We had a devotional this week from the Area President, Arnulfo Valenzuela. I love this quote that he said "the best way to teach as the Savior did, is to live as he lived." I think that applies to everyone as parents, siblings, friends, missionaries, whatever. As we all strive to be more like the Savior, we will be more effective in our teaching, and we will be able to bring lots of people to Christ. Just a thought from this week.

Thank you for all of the emails, and prayers!

Love, Hermana Monson

Fun Picts!

Hola from the CCM!! (July 14, 2016)

Hola everyone!  

I´m sorry I was unable to send out a group email last week, but everything is going great here in Mexico! I´m now mid-way through my 3rd week in the CCM, the first week was pretty long, but other than that time flies by.

I have an awesome district with 8 elders and 4 hermanas. All of us are headed back to the States to serve, some in California, some in Lousiana, and 2 of us are going to serve in Florida. No one in my district will serve in my same mission, but I have met a couple of other hermanas who will be in Fort Lauderdale with me, and they are super nice! Our district leader is a Samoan elder who likes to draw and cook. He is super laid back, and  he keeps things entertaining. Most of the elders are right out of high school, so they can get a little rambunctious, but they are lots of fun. I love the hermanas. Me and my companion share a room with the other two sisters in our district and it is a blast! My companion, Hermana Hirschi, is absolutely amazing! She is from Rexburg, Idaho and she will be serving in Arcadia, California. She also went to BYU before the mission, and she is thinking of majoring in accounting. She is always ready to work hard, be exactly obedient, and share her sweet testimony, but she still knows how to have a great time. She did not have any experience in Spanish before she came, so we have been working hard to learn our language. 

I love learning Spanish! Our teachers are the best! Hermano Castro and Hermana Martinez are both from Mexico, and both of them returned from a mission about 4 years ago. They have the sweetest testimonies, and they are always so patient and encouraging. I love learning Spanish from the Latinos, they speak SO FAST! Thankfully, our teachers are usually willing to slow down for us. I feel like my Spanish is coming along pretty well, I have definitely learned a lot in the last couple weeks. However, I still have a long ways to go. 

Sundays are the best! We always have lots of personal study time, and we get to watch a church video at night (The Testaments, Meet the Mormons, etc.). This sunday we watched a recording of an MTC devotional that Elder Holland gave a couple of years ago. It was awesome, and his fiery spirit motivated all of us to try harder to be more obedient this week. Me and Hermana Hirschi decided to join the CCM choir, so before our Tuesday devotional we got to perform the EFY medley in Spanish with 150 other missionaries. It was the best!

On a normal day we spend a lot of time in the classroom learning the language, studying preach my gospel, and preparing lessons for our investigators. We all look forward to gym time, and on P-Days we always played sand volleyball as a district, which is a blast. Our first investigator was named Elizabeth (our investigators are actually our teachers, but they use real-life situations as background stories). Elizabeth was having lots of problems with her spouse, so she was left to care for her children by herself. It was hard to adapt the lessons to meet her needs, especially when we could not understand her Spanish all the time. We prayed a LOT for the gift of tongues, and even though I still didn´t understand her all the time, and she probably didn´t understand us, we were the first ones in our district to commit her to baptism!

We got two new investigators this week, named Mariano and Camila. Mariano is a student at a local university, he believes in God, but doesn´t know why he needs Him in his life. We taught him twice, and committed him to baptism on the second lesson. Last night we had our first lesson with Camila. Camila is living with her mom and her step-dad at 23 years old. She is sad, but she doen´t know why, and she is looking for direction in her life. It was especially tricky because Hermana Hirschi and I were the last ones to teach and we only ended up with 7 minutes to introduce ourselves, get to know her, and teach the lesson. We came out of the lesson knowing with 100% surety that the Spirit did all the work. We still have no idea how we managed to learn more about her life, teach her about God and Jesus Christ, and commit her to read the Book of Mormon and pray in so little time. It was cool because we had our whole lesson planned out beforehand, but once we got in there we did not end up following it hardly at all, and yet our lesson flowed really well. It just goes to show how essential the Spirit is in missionary work!

Another cool thing we had last night was TRC. TRC is when volunteers from Mexico city (non-members or members, usually members) volunteer to come and hear a lesson from the missionaries. Hermanan Hirschi and I were super nervous because we were worried we wouldn´t be able to understand anything the people were saying. However, as soon as we met Soledad our fears were gone. Soledad is a regular volunteer at TRC. She is an adorable little latino grandma with a head of frizzy white hair, and a couple of missing teeth. She was so sweet, and we loved talking to her. We just ended up getting to know more about her and sharing our favorite scriptures, and it was awesome (even though we still couldn´t understand hardly anything she was saying).

For our Tuesday devotional we heard a broadcast of Elder Renlund, and I loved a couple of things he said. He quoted President Packer "The atonement can wash clean every stain, no matter how difficult, or how long, or how many times repeated." I also loved Elder Renlund´s saying "Missionary service at it´s core is that we take and deliver the atonement of Christ to people." Having been in the CCM for a couple of weeks, I have already learned how central Jesus Christ is to our message. Without his atonement, there would be nothing for us to hope for, and just thinking about that makes me so grateful for Christ. The atonement is what changes lives, and the best part about being a missionary is getting to share that with people! Another quote that I loved was "If you will do what we have been asked to do, with no thought of reward, your faith will increase." Lots of times, especially as a missionary, I fall into the habit of doing things simply because I want blessings, but that is the wrong mindset! We should be doing the things we have been asked to do because we love the Lord, and we are grateful to Him. He has promised us blessings, and they will come, but that should not be our motivation for being obedient. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary. I know that the Savior loves us all, and He is waiting with open arms and inviting all to come unto Him!

I hope that everyone has an amazing week! 

El Comedor

Week 1 in the CCM. (July 7, 2016)

We waited 9 days to hear from Sadie, and it was so fun when we got her email!  Sounds like she is loving it!!  My favorite is her awesome experience in exact obedience.  Sure love our Hermana!!

Anyways, I guess I will start with when you dropped me off at the airport. I was super nervous until I saw the large group of missionaries waiting for the plane to leave. The flight was long, and I already told you about my hour and a half wait in customs, so that was fun. The first day was a pretty long day, but I loved meeting my companion and the other hermanas in our house. Mexico city is crazy!! I already told you about all of the houses being cement, and colorful, graffitied, and scrunched super close together, the city was super grungy, so when we entered the CCM it was a big contrast. Inside the CCM it is muy bonita!! There are beautiful tropical trees and flowers everywhere, everything is always so clean (everything owned by the Church is usually clean). The first few nights it was super hard for me to sleep because if you don´t leave the window open our room gets SUPER hot, but with the window open you can hear all of the cars honking, police sirens, dogs barking, trains, and gunshots. Like I said, Mexico City is pretty crazy. However, the CCM feels absolutely safe. There is seriously such an amazing spirit here. Everyone is so nice, and they always say "hola Hermanas" whenever we walk by. The Latinos are the best!! So nice! 

The first full day we took a tour of the CCM, and had a couple of lectures about the rules here. After that we jumped right into our language classes. Yep, they are all in Spanish. Our teacher Hermano Castro is the best! He just got home from his mission about four years ago, and he makes class so fun. We always play games to learn about Spanish, but he also has a very strong testimony and I love studying the Book of Mormon when he teaches. I was actually surprised at how much Spanish I could understand on the first day, I guess high school Spanish might have paid off a little better than I thought it did. Or maybe, the gift of tongues was already kicking in.  Luckily, most of the teachers also speak English, so when necessary they revert to Spanglish. I feel like I have learned A TON of Spanish in the last week, but I know that I still have such a long ways to go. After our language lessons we usually spend an hour on the computers doing T.A.L.L., a computer program that helps us learn Spanish. We all struggle to keep our eyes open the entire time, but it´s supposedly very helpful. We also have gym time for about an hour every day. They have exercise bikes, weights, basketball courts, volleyball, tennis, ping pong, fuzball, and outdoor track, and an indoor track, so there is a plethora of things to choose from! Me and Hermana Hirschi usually enjoy doing weights, running, or playing basketball with the other Hermanas. We are going to play volleyball with our district later this afternoon so that should be fun. Aside from lessons and gym time, we always have lots of time to study the scriptures. I have come to love the Book of Mormon more than ever, it is the BEST!

Meal times are always great as well. El Comedor is a large cafeteria that all of the missionaries eat in. There is always fresh fruit available, and salad-which is super yummy! Other than that it varies depending on the day. Usually they have two options, an American one and a Mexican one. I love the Mexican food! Sometimes I don´t even know what I am eating, but it usually tastes good. They also tend to have the South American style HUGE lunch, and small dinner. It was fun because on the fourth of July they put out red, white, and blue tablecloths and made Hamburgers for lunch. They also made red, white, and blue fruit pies and sang the National Anthem. Other than that, the fourth of July was just like any other day here in Mexico. Some of the other food that is great is bueno bars. Basically a wafer filled with nutella, and dipped in chocolate. Yeah, not sure why the U.S. has not caught on to that one yet. The other thing we love to buy from La Tienda is Choki´s. Brownie Cookies. Yep. We have had to exercise some serious self control.

We live in a little house, that has 5 bedrooms in it. We never really use the kitchen or the living room, mostly just stick to our room. Hermana Bowers and Hermana Orton are the other two sisters sharing a bedroom with us. They are crazy, but they are fun. Both of them are pretty good at Spanish, so that helps a lot. Hermana Orton went to Utah State before she came on her mission, she is loud, and sassy, and super funny. Hermana Bowers went to BYU and lived in another Heritage building. She knows a lot about everything, so she is our go-to dictionary. She likes to be a leader, and she is super fun. I love them both! The elders in our district are lots of fun as well. It is weird because a lot of them are straight out of high school, so they don´t have a lot of experience being away from home. Even though they can be overexcited at times, they also have very strong testimonies, and they always make sure the Hermanas are well taken care of. They are the best!

My companion....I don´t even know where to start. She is amazing! She is from Rexburg, and she also attended BYU before her mission. She lived off campus, and she did not have very much of a social life, so I think she is really enjoying having lots of friends everywhere. She is pretty shy, but once she comes out of her shell, she is so much fun!! She has the sweetest testimony, and she is always looking out for those in need. I am grateful that she is willing to work hard and be exactly obedient, she is a great example of that. I feel like she is definitely one of the sisters that was talked about in my setting apart. I just can´t say enough about her, we work well together, we laugh together.....anyways, it´s pretty great. 

We actually experienced a super cool tender mercy on Tuesday. On the second day here in the CCM we were introduced to our investigator, Elizabeth. (Elizabeth is actually one of our adorable Latina teachers, Hermana Martinez). Elizabeth is having a lot of problems with her husband, he left her and has a girlfriend, and she is left to care for her three children by herself. (Even though Elizabeth is not an actual investigator, the situation comes from a real investigator). Anyways, it is our job to teach her the gospel, and help her to see how it can help her to improve her situation. Our first and second lessons went pretty well. However, as we learned more about being a better missionary we realized that we needed to allow Elizabeth to talk more by asking her questions. On the day of our third lesson we worked super hard, trying to put together the most meaningful lesson we could. It is difficult because the only resources we have for Spanish are our teachers, a couple of textbooks, and a little English-Spanish dictionary. However, we did everything we could to prepare, and we prayed for help. During the lesson we tried to ask Elizabeth lots of questions, but there was one problem. Her answers were all in Spanish. She ended up with lots of questions about the gospel, that we were´nt able to answer because we didn´t know how to say it in Spanish. Me and Hermana Hirschi came out feeling frustrated and discouraged. After a long day of hard wok, we did not feel like our efforts paid off. The Spirit was not in the lesson like we would have liked, and we could hardly even stammer through a prayer at the end. 

There was only one more set of Elders that was going to be giving Elizabeth a lesson after us. Our schedule says that we are supposed to return to the classroom and study until 9:30. The rest of our district decided to return to their casas after their lessons, but Hermana Hirschi and I decided to stay and study because that is what the schedule says. The tender mercy came when Hermana Martinez (Elizabeth) unexpectedly returned to the classroom with the other two Elders. She expressed disappointment that the rest of our district had already gone home, and she was really pleased that we had stayed. She sat and talked with us and the other two Elders for a while, and helped us practice our Spanish for 45 mintues. She was so kind, and so encouraging that we both came away feeling so much better. We were so glad that we had obeyed our schedule, even though it seemed like it was something that was unimportant. Exact obedience definitely pays off.

Total we have had four lessons with Elizabeth. Yesterday, Hermano Castro stressed the importance of commiting our investigator to baptism, and we memorized the baptismal invitation. Me and Hermana Hirschi had asked Elizabeth to be baptized in two of our previous lessons, but she declined both times. Yesterday, we decided that we needed an amazing lesson so that she would feel a change of heart and desire to be baptized. Once again we worked really hard all day preparing a lesson. We decided to talk about the Doctrine of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, Holy Ghost, endure to the end). We said so many prayers, and pleaded for the Spirit to accompany us so that we would be able to commit Elizabeth to baptism because we knew we only had two lessons left with her, and we really wanted her to say yes! Our lesson was awesome!! My favorite one so far. We both testified a ton, and the Spirit was very strong. I felt so much love for Elizabeth, and the whole time I was just praying that she would have a change of heart. And.........She agreed to be baptized!!!! We were so excited! We were the first companionship in our district to commit her to baptism. After the lesson, Hermana Martinez (Elizabeth) told us that it was an absolutely beautiful lesson and that the only thing we could improve is our Spanish. We were so thrilled. 

I don´t think I will have time to write a group email, so if you would be kind enough to send out a snippet of this to any friend and family you think might appreciate it, that would be awesome! I only have an hour to email, so I will try to space my time better next week. I am sorry my email is so scatterbrained, but just know that I love you all! And I love being a missionary!! It is super hard, but at the end of everyday I am happily exhausted. I absolutely know that Heavenly Father knows each of us personally, He has helped me more than I could have ever imagined this week. I know that our Savior died for us. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and I know that living the gospel is the way to find true happiness. I miss you all very much, thank you for your emails, they made my day. 

All my love, 

Hermana Monson

 Tasty Beuno bars she mentions.

Hermana Monson and Hermana Hirschi.  Hermana Hirschi is from Rexburg, ID.  Sadie is loving her as a companion.