Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy Christmas Harry! (sonburg)

Sisters Crandall & McRae
Querida Familia,

     Hi everyone! Long time no see:)  We had a really great and super fast week! The time is just flying.

     On Monday, we spent most of P-day trying to find a ride for 10 Sisters to get to the Christmas Conference in Richmond! It's about a 2+ hour drive and that makes it difficult to find willing/able members. But we finally did it:) As well as received updates all afternoon of the BYU game. (I'm not bitter.) (Except I'm a little bitter that a fight broke out.) (And I hope next season is better.)

     We also putted around the mall a bit, which is one of my favorite things to do during Christmas time! We found the CUTEST $10 matching Christmas shirts. Mine was a little big, but it worked okay.

     Tuesday was the long awaited Christmas conference! Hermana McRae sang "Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel" and it was really beautiful! We also did a song in Spanish as a district. It was a medley of "Silent Night," "Joy to the World," and "Angels we Have Heard on High." It was mostly just music and then short spiritual thoughts by different missionaries. 

     Sister Wilson introduced "More Fit for the Kingdom II: Nutrition on a Mission." I don't know if you remember this last year, but it's a fitness/weight-loss challenge between zones. Our apartment is super committed! This time we got nice little yellow bibles to keep track of weight loss and exercise points. It also has some yummy/healthy recipes. It finishes early April so it's perfect timing:) The back cover says, "Go BIG or go home big." Hahaha:) 

     President Wilson talked about how when we set really high goals, we're bound to fail, but we'll achieve more than we would have if we hadn't set a high goal. That and the journey will be so much more worth it. He also talked about the process that the Savior went through to discover that he was the Savior, and how we need to go through a similar process to discover who we are and what purpose God has for our lives. 

     During lunch we had a fun show where missionaries could sing parodies or songs they made up and two Elders did a song about President Wilson called "Fabulous." Because he is always reminding us to be fabulous missionaries! It was super funny--they said lots of President-isms. Hermana McRae got a video so we've been enjoying it all week:) All in all, Christmas Conference was a really great experience and I loved being able to see all of my missionary friends again!

     On Christmas Eve and Christmas day we were super busy with lots of appointments! And most of them gave us food. We spend Christmas Eve morning making lots of cookies and bagging them up with our roommates. Then we visited with Miguelina and her family. They're investigators from la Republica Dominicana. She cooked for us. I went back for a second plate of rice and potatoes. She asked why I didn't get seconds of the chicken and pasta and made me go back and refill my plate. #truestory;) Then we went caroling with the Hermanas and Elderes to a few members. We received two bags of tamales! Mexican and Guatemalan. Next we had dinner with recent converts Maria, Ester, and Keyla. She made us tamales and tortas and turkey. It was super yummy. We did a Noche de Hogar (FHE) and Maria shared her testimony of her conversion. We also gave them a star to put on their tree:) That night we had one more visit with a less-active, Gianfrances, who is going through some hard times right now. We shared "He is the Gift" with her and she cried a bit about being away from her family. (Mom is in NY and dad is  Puerto Rico.) We had a really great Christmas Eve! (And Maria gave us our third bag of tamales.)

     On Christmas morning, we did our normal run except with jingle bells! I hope someone heard us:) I made some french toast with eggnog which was really yummy! We invited the other Hermanas but they canceled last minute. We opened gifts with the Sisters we live with, so that was fun:) They were all very grateful, Mommy, for the cute stockings you sent! Thank you everyone for thinking of me at Christmas time:) Afterwards Hermana McRae and I both made our calls home.

     I was SUPER nervous to talk with you all! I'm not sure what it is, but something about calling home makes me feel weird. I guess I was worried it would distract me, but it didn't really. That and I was worried I would cry, which I did a lot of. I just really love my mission.

     Anyway, afterwards we were able to eat a late lunch with the Almendarez family, recent converts. And we ate two full plates. We went straight from that appointment to the Diaz family, who also made us eat two plates. At this point, I thought I was stuffed to capacity. We were able to visit with la familia Nieves, which is a really great investigator family! And we taught them about the Book of Mormon. The dad is so chevere. Then we went to see Ana (Fabian/Eric's mom) and she fed us the largest tamale I've ever eaten. I don't know if it was actually that big or if it just felt that big after everything I'd already eaten. Our last visit was with a less active named Vicky. She offered me a cookie and I put it in my pocket because I was done.

     So yeah, I had a great Christmas:) Even though I was the fullest I've ever felt, I was also super full of the Spirit and happiness for the love I have for these people and the love they have for me:)
Christmas Cow Concert ;-)


     I am almost out of time and I'm only half way done with the week!!   But GOOD NEWS! Leo came to church again, and Miguelina's daughter Jennifer came to church! They both liked it a lot and we're hoping that Leo will accept a date soon. We also found 3 super golden investigators last night!

Okay I love you all so much:)

Feliz Navidad!

Hermanita Crandall

Monday, December 22, 2014

hula dancing, hillbillies, hole-in-the-wall Chinese, and half-birthdays in Harrisonburg

Querida Familia,

     Hey it's been a happy week here in the valley!  I have lots to tell so this will probably be very sporadic.

     Last Monday we had Sisters' P-day! Hermana McRae and I brought rice and Hawaiian hay stacks (the cream of chicken topping thing) and all of the other sisters brought toppings like pinneapple and crunchy noodles. And we also got Hawaiian punch:) So we all ate together and then did a little white elephant gift exchange. Afterwards, I taught all of the Sisters how to hula dance! We did a little dance to hukilau. It was a lot of fun! I really love all of the Sisters in my zone! One of them, Hermana Gonzalez, has some friends who dance for Living Legends. She told me that I could make it into Living Legends without a problem! That made me really excited and now I want to audition!!

     Also my half-birthday was on Wednesday. No one said anything, but I'm sure you didn't forget. Hermana McRae and I celebrated by eating at a little Chinese buffet. Which is exactly what I did for my birthday 6 months ago;) It also was Sister Lampinen's one year mark so we celebrated that too:)

*As for hillbillies.......

     We did two exchanges this week and both times I left Harrisonburg.

     The first was with Sister Robertson in Waynesboro, which is about 30 minutes away from Harrisonburg. Waynesboro is where the church building is, but she and her companion cover a couple little towns. We spent most of the day in Stuart's Draft. (The names of places here are so weird that I'm used to it.) We received a referral from the Elders of a less active couple that had lost contact with the church 20 years ago. We went and visited them and they were a little crazy:) The Sister told us all about her 10 cats and how she has 23 buried in the back yard. She also said that during their 20 years with no contact with the church, they would watch the BYU channel all the time. They had really strong testimonies of the church still and we were able to get them a Book of Mormon in giant print.

     On the second exchange, I went to Broadway with Sister Burgess, which is about 20 minutes north of Harrisonburg, but part of the Harrisonburg 2nd Ward. Those Sisters also cover a couple little towns. We had a lesson with a really old less active man in Timberville who can't see well enough to drive to church. He prays like a General Authority:) He's single, so we had to teach him outside and it was freezing! We read a scripture to him and he knew where it was in the Book of Mormon! He also complains of evil spirits bothering him in his home. (A lot of the people out here in the country talk about evil spirits and the spirits of old civil war soldiers.)

     We then had a part member lesson at a chicken/cow farm in Linville. Sonny is a recent convert, and they're teaching his cousin and aunt. Linville is the most rural town I have ever been to in my entire life. It makes Nephi, UT look like NYC! Some of the people there don't have bathrooms and use port-a-potties outside instead. Which would be horrible in this weather, if you ask me. Also, I had a really difficult time understanding what any of them were saying because their accents were so thick! Sister Burgess seemed to understand them just fine, but I felt like they were speaking a different language! I understand Puertoriquenos better than that;) Also Sister Burgess said she'll send me some pictures of me with cows so I'll get those out when I can!

     Afterwards we had a lesson with Sonny (outdoors again). And he is one of the sweetest most genuine people I have ever met! His testimony of the Gospel is so strong. He just got baptized about 3 or 4 weeks ago and he went on and on about how much the Gospel has blessed his life. I really hope his aunt and cousin accept it too!:)

      The country is SOOO different than Stafford or Richmond, but I really love it. The people are very humble and willing to listen. It can be hard for missionary work because it requires a lot more driving, but I had a lot of fun!:)

*Our investigators are doing really well!

     We are teaching Ana and her son Fabian. (Her husband is an investigator too, but not really interested.) They just barely got here from Honduras about 6 months ago, so Fabian (10) is still learning English in school. His Spanish is so darn cute:) And we always do English/Gospel activities with him after each lesson with his mom. He also has his own Libro de Mormon that he marks up the scriptures we share in lessons. They both came to church on Sunday which was a MIRACLE! Fabian really liked it! If you can get the kids to love church, it makes a huge difference in the parents coming:)

     Leo also came to church! He got here from Honduras about 6 months ago as well. He's 19 or 20, but went back to high school to learn English. He's not happy about it, and doesn't like being in the States. His mom and brother are really involved in another church, but he's not very religious. We finally got him to come to church, and he said he enjoyed it! His girlfriend also came and she liked it too. She's American and doesn't speak Spanish, so I'm not sure how they work that one out. But we translated the services for her and they both want to come back!

     Nina was supposed to come to church but canceled last minute. She has some family members in New York that are members of the church, and she seems really interested. We taught her about Jose Smith and her first question was, "Is there any evidence?" That was a perfect segway into El Libro de Mormon! 

     Last night we went with some other sisters from the zone to sing at a rehab center. The Spirit was so strong and the people were so happy to see us! Most of them were really old, and some reminded me of Louise. I cried a bit. It was a really sweet experience.

*Sorry I'm almost out of time...

     But, I just wanted to say, that I'm excited to talk to my family on Christmas:) Last week I was really dreading it. I even cried a few times thinking about going home and not being able to tract and testify like I can here. I can't believe how fast the time is flying! P-days seem to come faster and faster. Yesterday I told Hermana McRae that I wasn't exhausted enough for it to be P-day yet! 

     But today...I was looking at a picture of my family that I have hanging by my desk. And the thought came to me that everything's going to be alright. I love my mission SO MUCH. I can't imagine how different my life would be without it. I'm so happy I chose to serve! I miss my family a lot, but I feel really torn about going home in a few months. But the Spirit spoke to me this morning and now I'm excited to see you all on Christmas and chat with you for a while:) And I'm not nervous like I was for Mothers' Day, I promise;)

I love you all a lot and I hope you are safe and happy and warm!

Have a merry Christmas:)

Con amor,  Hermanita Crandall

Monday, December 15, 2014

El Burg de Harrison

Hola querida familia,

     We had a crazy week! Hermana McRae and I started doing exchanges. We did two this week and we have two next week. The following week is the Christmas Conference and then the week after we have Missionary Leadership Council and Zone Meeting, so we wanted to get them all finished at the beginning of the transfer. Then in January we're going to do a few power exchanges.

     Our first exchange was with the other Hermanas in the Harrisonburg Branch. I decided to stay in our area so that I could figure it out a little better. It was difficult because I'd only been here a week, but it forced me to rely more on the Spirit. It was a little discouraging during the day because we taught three lessons, but none of them turned into new investigators. But they were all great lessons!

     The first lesson was with an old woman who didn't seem to understand anything of what we were saying. We talked about baptism and then she'd ramble off about the Bible and say things that didn't really make sense. We felt that it wasn't worth it to try an make a follow up appointment especially because she's returning to El Salvador in a week. But we left the Restoration DVD with her and so hopefully she watched it!

     The second lesson was with a mother and her two kids. She listened and participated in the lesson and the Spirit was SO STRONG! And then at the end said she didn't want to listen more and she didn't believe in Joseph Smith because his name isn't in the Bible. We tried to explain that there's more truth that's not written in the Bible, but she wouldn't accept it. The Bible talks about the ministry of our Savior, but it would be impossible to record every act of love and service that he performed while on the earth. And he continues to live and to love today, and none of that is recorded in the Bible. Anyway, she told us she didn't want us to come back. We felt really good after the lesson, however, because we knew that she had felt the Spirit and it was her personal decision to reject the message.

     We kept knocking doors and we knocked into a Cuban man who told us to come back later. We asked him for referrals and he said he only knew that his neighbor was Hindu and she wouldn't be interested. His comment intrigued me and I felt a distinct impression to knock her door. We did, and she immediately let us in! I can't remember her name, but she was from Nepal and has only been here for a year in the states. Her English was pretty good and she was the sweetest, nicest lady ever! We shared the "He is the Gift" video and talked about how Christmas isn't about buying things, but is about sharing love like Jesus did. Afterwards, she was in tears and said that even though she isn't Christian, she wants to celebrate Christmas now. It was a really sweet experience and I'm so grateful that we were able to bring her closer to Christ!

     After spending all day tracting, we stopped by Little Ceasar's to get a $5 pizza and some crazy bread. It's days like these that I am SO grateful to be serving a stateside mission:) We brought it home to the apartment and had a mini pizza party with the English Sisters. It was a really nice exchange and the Hermana and I had a good heart to heart. The mission is pretty difficult right now for all of the new Hermanas. There are about 5 or 6 Hermanas that go home in this coming year, and the rest are all new. So we have lots of Hermanas who are training with only 2 or 3 transfers of experience. We're at the exact opposite of where we were last year! Last year there were tons of Sister and not enough Hermanas. Now all of the Sisters are going home and we have plenty of Hermanas! (I wonder if I'll be translated back???)

     On Wednesday we had interviews with President Wilson. It's crazy how those seem to come faster and faster! It was a nice interview and we talked about the goals I have for the rest of my mission. He had called us the day before and said he wanted to take my companion and me out for dinner. So after the interviews, we went to a realllllllllyyyyy nice steak restaurant. The nicest restaurant I've ever been too. (The menu was probably 2x more expensive than Texas Roadhouse.) And President Wilson made us order an appetizer and desserts! I've never done that before! It was so nice that it made me kind of nervous and I even dropped my fork, haha. It was nice but wow I felt so out of place! I think if a guy asks me on a date to dinner anytime after my mission, I will tell him no way. But the food was yummy and it was nice to spend some time with President Wilson and my companion!

     Our second exchange was Friday with the Sisters we live with. I stayed in our area (again) with Sister Lampinen, the Sister from Finland. It was fun and it was nice getting to know her better, since she's pretty shy. Or at least not as outgoing as her companion:) She taught in English and I translated for her. All of the people we met with wanted her to pray in Finnish for them, so that was neat!

     Saturday was a really great day because the other Hermanas had a baptism! And right after the Branch Christmas party. We had two investigator families come! It was a great opportunity for them to see how the church functions. Immediately after the baptism, everyone started putting up tables and chairs and bringing out food for the party. Our investigators even helped set up! I love the Church of Jesus Christ:) After eating, all of the missionaries went to the RS room to start making the Christmas Canastas (baskets--which I talked about last week). We brought in one family at a time to help them make the canastas. One family wanted 40. So then it was a made rush to make them. And by the time we finished, we stepped back into the cultural hall and it was all cleaned up and everyone was gone! But Hermana McRae said "bye" to our investigators and they all had a nice time:) Apparently while we were making the canastas Santa came to visit and they did a pinata and I didn't get any candy. But I'm not bitter.

     So that was fun and then all of us missionaries practiced a song that we're going to sing in Sacrament Meeting next week and hopefully at the Christmas conference! 

Church was great. I'm almost out of time. But I love you all so much! Things are going really well!:)

Love,  Hermanita Crandall

Monday, December 8, 2014

Here in Harrisonburg!

Querida Familia,

     My whole mission I have always wanted to serve in Harrisonburg and here I am! It has been a crazy week and also probably one of the slowest of my mission trying to adjust to all of the changes. But things are going really well:)

     On Monday night I had my last lesson with Juan the Cuban. I'm going to really miss him, but he said he'll be baptized before I go back to visit in May! And then on Tuesday morning the Hermana Escoto really wanted to feed me one last time, so we went over for breakfast. She asked if I had any requests, and I said french toast! Yum:) she made it with french bread and everything! She put out syrup, caramel, honey, peaches, strawberry jam, cream, cinnamon tea, and tons of other toppings. She went alllll out for one little breakfast and it made me feel so special:) She and her daughters also picked out a cute bracelet from me. I'm really going to miss that family!! And all of the other wonderful people in Henrico. There were four missionaries serving in one branch, and somehow they managed to feed all of us at least 5 times a week. It was quite the feat! 

     Transfer meeting was basically transfer party because of how many people were there. Hermana Quinones is Hermana Sprunt's new companion in Henrico! I never would have guessed that one!  There were about 14 Sisters/Hermanas that went home including my trainer, Sister Olsen. She is such a great missionary and I already miss her a lot!! The new AP didn't know he was going to be AP until President Wilson announced it, so that was exciting. And I found out that I'd be going to Harrisonburg! So I was really stoked about that:)

     Harrisonburg is WAYYYY different than anywhere else I've served. It's super country! It's about a 2.5 hour car ride from Richmond. And there are mountains here! (Which are actually just large hills.) We're situated in the Shenandoah Valley and we get to drive through the pass on the way. It's really beautiful here, and I can't wait until the Spring when everything turns green again! There's also a huge Mennonite population here. They're kind of like the Amish, but they go to the store and use electricity. Some drive cars, but a few still use a horse-and-buggy. 

     There's also James Madison University here, and we drive past it a few times a day. There are lots of frat houses, where 10 or so college students live together. We saw one last night that's named "Neverland," haha. Hopefully there won't be too many crazy parties because it's almost finals week. Harrisonburg reminds me a lot of Ephraim or Manti in the size of the town and the style of the homes.

     There are lots of Hispanics here, but no construction jobs!!! Most of them work at either the turkey or chicken plant. (One of the chicken plants is "Tyson." So you'll think of me the next time you eat Tyson Chicken!!) There's also a dog food factory! That you can smell :P This is great though, because most of the factories are closed on Sunday.

     My companion is Hermana McRae, and she's from Tooele! She goes home in May. I've already accidentally introduced myself as Hermana McRandall like 3 times. We live with the English YSA sisters too--Sister Edwards and Sister Lampinen. Sister Lampinen is from Finland and she's here on her T-Square outbound mission! Sister Edwards goes home the transfer before me. She and I are both planning on finishing our missions here:) I really enjoy living with other sisters so I'm glad I get to do it again! We go running outside in the morning so it's easier with four of us encouraging each other.

*Anyway...I'll tell you more about my week.

     I arrived Tuesday evening. We realized that President Wilson put together two Sisters that didn't have permission to drive in the mission in Broadway, which is a little town about 20 minutes away. We called an office Elder and he said we should do an exchange for the night and he'd work it out in the morning with President Wilson. So I carried my stuff inside and pulled together a quick over night bag and went to Broadway with Sister Burgess. We visited a less active that night and then didn't have time to do much else. The next morning, we found out that her companion, Sister Bailey, was given temporary permission to drive for this transfer. That was a huge relief because we didn't want to deal with an emergency transfer. So we finally switched back and I was able to go to my new area:) It was a pretty stressful first night in the zone, but I managed it and had a great time:)

     On Wednesday I got more settled in. Then on Thursday, we were on our way to Richmond for the day for a Spanish Meeting! In order to get to a 9:30 am meeting on time, Hermana McRae and I had to get up at 5:30 and be on the road by 6:30. Spanish Meeting was great, especially a training given about language study. I feel like my studies are pretty effective, but they're not going to get my language skills where I want them. Hermana McRae and I set a goal to do companionship study in Spanish and to do language study together! It will take more effort, but I know that will help us reach our goal--which is, we want to have such great Spanish that we could live comfortably and confidently in Ecuador next summer. (We picked Ecuador because we figure there will be less of an English influence, unlike Mexico.) 

     We've been doing lots of finding and we found a ton of new investigators! We also do a lot more less active work here than in Henrico. When I was in Henrico, only one or two less actives lived in my area. Here, we have 12 member families in our area, 3 of which are really active. At the beginning of 2014, church attendance was at about 12 or 15 people. Now it's up to 30 or 40! We decided that we're responsible for making sure that our 12 member families are coming to church. And if they aren't coming, we should know why. They should know who we are, and we should be in contact with them at least once a week.

     Right now we're doing "Canastas Navidenas" which are Christmas baskets. Every family in the branch will have at least 3 baskets to give to their friends. There will be some treats and the "Joy to the World" video. Then, the following week, the family will invite their friends to a meeting with the missionaries. We're hoping that the baskets will help prepare them to receive us! So we've been able to visit with a lot of the families this week to explain the activity and to help them set goals.

     Saturday and Sunday we had Stake Conference. I really enjoyed the Saturday night session, where they discussed family history. One of the promises I received in my setting apart blessing is that my family would feel the Spirit of Elijah while I served my mission! I can see how that's truly come to pass! Except Dad and Lindsay haven't shared any family history stories with me.........

     Anyway, I felt this really strong desire to interview my grandparents when I get home. (You can now upload recordings and videos to familysearch!) I think it would also be great to have a video of Grandma Kelsey dancing with Jean's Golden Girls!:)

     My favorite part was when the Stake President spoke at the end. His son just returned from a mission in Brazil and they had their Stake Conference right before he finished his mission. So the President asked his son about what they did and if he had any advice. The son said that everyone calls the Stake President in Brazil "the man" because at the end of his talk, he made a promise that he would have a missionary experience with the missionaries every week until the next Stake Conference. Then the President said, "you're probably all wondering if I'm going to do it now!" He paused for a moment, and the Spirit was SO STRONG! It was dead quiet in the chapel. He then made a promise that he would have a missionary experience with the missionaries every week until the next Stake Conference. My heart was touched because I've come to truly love missionary work! There are lots of great ways to do missionary work, but nothing is more powerful than members finding people for the missionaries to teach.

     So yup. I had a great week, and I'm in a great area! I only have three transfers left, so I'm pretty sure I'll be finishing up here. I'm really excited to be serving as Hermana Training Leader! We're starting exchanges this week so I'm sure I'll have lots to tell:)

I love you all a ton!

Hermanita Crandall

*P.S. New address in case you didn't get my other email

1378 Central Ave. Apt. D
Harrisonburg, VA 22801

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

#hastaluegoHenrico #HeistheGift #EleslaDadiva

Querida Familia,

     Como estan todos??:) Espero que tuvieran feliz dia de accion de gracias!

     I would like to invite everyone to watch the new video from the church called "He is the Gift!" You can find it on youtube or atChristmas.Mormon.org. This video is going to be the only advertisement on the front page of youtube on December 7th! The Church is predicting that more than 220 million people will watch it that day!! It will also be on a jumbotron in Times Square for the entire month of December! This includes New Year's Eve, so millions of people will see it there too! It's really beautiful and I've seen already how powerfully it can bring the Spirit!

     We found a few new investigators this week. One of them was Veronica, who is a single mom with three kids. She seemed pretty stressed for our second appointment and I was surprised she even let us in. We invited her kids to come into the room, sang "Noche de Paz" (Silent Night), and watched the video. Her daughter seemed really touched by it. We talked a little bit more and then kneeled and prayed with them as a family. It was great to see how this video brought peace to their home.

     Last night was decided to contact a potential, Soyla. (I don't know how to spell it...) When we went by, she wasn't home, but another family that lives there was home and they let us in. There names are Sabino and Loyda. They said they didn't have a lot of time, but agreed to watching the video. After the video, they opened up a lot and wanted us to come back! It softened their hearts. They talked a lot about how the Christmas culture here is way different from what they grew up with in Mexico. They seemed open to baptism too!

*Our other investigators are doing well.

     Juan still works a lot, but said he just worked his last weekend in Lynchburg. He's trying to find work closer to home so that he can be here for the weekends. He's been really diligent with quitting coffee. He's gone from 5 cups a day to 2! He said he wants to come with us to church and it makes him feel bad to have to miss it every week. I can see how is faith is growing and he's working hard to repent. It makes me so happy :)

     Elena. Every week she says she'll come to church and she never comes! And every week we push her baptismal date back another week. But she loves the Book of Mormon, she knows it's true, and she's working on quitting coffee as well. There are always a billion distractions at her house with kids, a few other families that live there, people cooking in the kitchen, people watching TV, etc. We're hoping to get her to a church tour so that she can feel the Spirit and feel more confident coming to church.

*Okay so now I'll talk about Thanksgiving:)

     We had breakfast with the Lowden family which was so much fun!! I think I talked about them a bit last week or two weeks ago. Hermana Lowden made us yummy pancakes and sausage and desserts. She even gave us some extra desserts to share with Juan. Afterwards we watched the "He is the Gift" video and talked about Christmas and Thanksgiving traditions. They have two really cute puppies too, so that was fun:) I love being with the members because it makes me feel right at home!

     Later Hermana Sprunt and I returned home, did our studies, and did weekly planning. We also made some cookies to pass out to our investigators that night!


     We had Thanksgiving dinner with the Diaz family. Now this was probably the craziest experience of my entire mission!!! So back when I was dating Alonso, I remember him telling me that he had a cousin named Shelton that was his age. (Or at least, their families were really close so he considered him a cousin.) Alonso's on his mission right now, and I wrote him a little over a year ago when I received my call to let him know where I was serving. He wrote back and mentioned that he had family that lived in Virginia. When I met the Diaz family, I knew that Hermano y Hermana Diaz were his aunt and uncle because they have a son named Shelton on a mission and they're Peruvian. I didn't really think that much of it because they knew I was from Lehi and had never asked if I knew the Lopez family. Hermana Diaz is also in charge of our dinner calendar so she invited us over for Thanksgiving. 

     Anyway, we show up and we walk into the kitchen and I was speechless! Alonso's oldest brother Alfredo was there! We both freaked out a bit and my companion was super confused, haha. And he called me "Sarah" the entire night. He joined the Marines and is in boot camp in North Carolina. He decided to come up to Richmond to be with some family for Thanksgiving. It was super crazy and definitely the last thing that I thought would happen! 

     But we had a nice dinner and the food was very yummy! We watched the "He is the Gift" video as well and had a great time:) It also lasted for a reallllly long time so finally we got out and were able to deliver some treats to some investigators.

     So yep, that was my Thanksgiving:) I think I enjoyed this year more than last year. Last year, we were with a group of like 5 families and we only knew the host family so we were kind of in-and-out. This year we got to spend some quality time with the family and actually talk about the Gospel. I'm really grateful for all of the wonderful families here:) I love my mission!

     Speaking of loving all of the people here.....I'm out! I'm being transferred tomorrow and I've been given the opportunity to be an Hermana Training Leader!!! I really wanted it 6 weeks ago, but I know that I'm so much more ready now. I feel very humbled by this calling and I'm really excited to move on to the next part of my mission! Though I really did love training and I'm going to miss it. I don't know where I'm going yet, but it will likely be Harrisonburg or Chesterfield, which is where the HTL areas are. (Unless President Wilson opens up a new area.)

Love you all so much!:)

con amor,  Hermanita Crandall

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Notita de Henriquito

Querida Familia,

     Hi everyone I love you so much! I hope you all have a happy thanksgiving!:) I'm really grateful for all of the support that you give me--your letters, prayers, emails, love. I'm so grateful for my mission, everything that I'm learning, and for the restored Gospel! We've been offered thanksgiving dinner about a billion times, but we're eating with the Diaz family from Peru. (They have some Peruvian family in Lehi that you might be familiar with.)

     We had a great week of getting members out with us! It's quite the feat in this branch because there are four sets of missionaries and it's a branch--so there are fewer members. We had at least one member with us every day except Sunday. It was really great and I really love our members!

     Hermana Pina is one of my favorites. Her last name means pinneapple, so we got her a pinneapple for her birthday yesterday! We got to help her do some service last week in a member's home from a different ward. The member is super rich and has a really huge house. And they are a hoarder, so it was really interesting just digging and digging through stuff.

     Another sweet member is Hermana Reyes. She's from Guatemala and has been taking English classes forever! But she's a little up there in years so it's difficult for her to learn the language. She came out with us to a lesson, and then afterwards we ate lunch in her home and helped her do her English homework. 

     Hermana Juanita is also really great. She feeds us dinner every Tuesday and then comes out with us at least once a week. She came with us to meet Juan! Juan is doing really well and he likes telling stories from when he was a fisherman. He said he fell into the sea once during a storm and thought he was going to die! And he's seen a few deaths, some of which he described in detail :P And then I had to describe in detail to my companion afterwards. 

     Elena is still doing really well! She missed church for a dumb reason so that makes us a little nervous. But we taught her the word of wisdom and she's willing to live it! (Juan too! But he's a little stuck on coffee like all Hispanics.) 

     We had exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders! Sister Wilson came and stayed with me while Hermana Sprunt went with Sister Walked to Glen Allen. It was hard having to teach without a companion, and it made me realize how grateful I am for Hermana Sprunt and her progress! She understands and speaks very well! She's just finishing up her second transfer, but she speaks more as if she's in her third or fourth. I'm really proud of her :)

     We had a zone workshop this week with President Wilson. We broke off into little groups and took turns practicing while being filmed. Then we watched ourselves and critiqued the videos. It was really weird to watch myself teach! I think I have better posture than I did before my mission, but I need to smile more! However, everyone commented that Hermana Sprunt and I teach in unity well. 

     We had a little scare with our CO detector. It went off and the reading said "280" and the instructions say that "400" is dangerous. We're still not sure what it all means, so we've spent the past two days with our windows open just in case. It's been pretty chilly at night! Hopefully we can get that worked out with the office today. 

     Sorry I didn't have a ton of time to write.  But I love you all so much! Have a great week:)

Love,  Hermanita Crandall

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hope and Happiness in Henrico!

Querida Familia,

     So we ended up not going to the science museum last Monday because President Wilson said we need a member ride :/ But we stopped by Lifeway Christian Store and got some new music! Which was a relief because I'm so sick of listening to the same music over and over again. And our car doesn't have a USB device so we can't listen to the music you sent us in the car. So that was fun:) Today we have Sisters' P-day and we're going to the Short Pump Mall to eat and shop. Yay:)

     This was a sssllllooooooooooooooooowwwww week. As was last week. We dropped a ton of investigators that weren't progressing and didn't want to be baptized. We spent about 3 or 4 hours each day just tracting. We've pretty much tracted out all of the Hispanic complexes in our area. It was very exhausting, but Heavenly Father blessed us for our diligence because we were able to put someone on date!

     Her name is Elena! We were thinking about dropping her because she didn't seem genuinely interested. We stopped by for our appointment and she said she was busy. She asked us to come back the next day, because she had been reading from the Book of Mormon and she believes it's true! She said it while smiling! She was so happy!!! Hermana Sprunt and I walked away from the door dumbfounded. Heavenly Father definitely knows His children better than we do:) The next day we went by for our appointment and put her on date! It was a huge miracle in the middle of some pretty difficult days. 

     To help with the finding efforts in the Branch, we did a tracting "blitz" in each area this week. On Tuesday we knocked in Henrico A, Wednesday in Henrico B, Thursday in our area, and Friday in Henrico D. Each companionship selected a complex or a few streets and we took turns knocking in each others' areas. We got a lot of referrals so we have some more work to do for this week!

     Because we're now four companionships in the Branch, we have an all Spanish District! We had District Meeting on Wednesday completely in Spanish! I love speaking Spanish! At the end we talked about language study and how to improve. I bore my testimony about how it's such a blessing to be a Spanish missionary! I tried really hard before my mission to qualify for this blessing, and I feel very privileged to have been given this assignment when I didn't originally receive it. Because of that, language study hour is very precious to me. I hope I can continue to use the language after my mission to bless the lives of others!

     We're still teaching Juan, the Cuban, but he took a 3-week construction job in Lynchburg. He'll be staying there for a while. But he took his Libro de Mormon with him and he's going to keep reading! We talked about baptism with him and he said he's planning on it happening eventually, but when he feels right about it. When he said that I was filled with so much peace and hope:) He wants to be baptized and he told our member present all about how he loves us, loves our visits, and loves the Book of Mormon!

     We also have a really great new investigator named Araceli. We've been trying to teach her for a few weeks, but her dad in Mexico passed away and so she was really busy for a while. We went by on Sunday (yesterday) to teach her for the first time and she loved the Plan of Salvation! We gave her a Libro de Mormon a few weeks ago and she's already read some of it and really likes it. She's planning on going back to Mexico in the Spring to be with her kids again. A lot of the Hispanics come to the States to work for a while so they can send money or things home, like shoes or toys that they can't afford over there. Apparently there's been a lot of violence in Mexico recently, with a school shooting or something. Araceli said it happened within an hour of where her kids live. Anyway, she said there's a Mormon chapel really close to where she lives. She said she and her husband want to join the church and stick with it. We almost put her on date, but her husband was upstairs sleeping and she wants to talk about it with him first!

     Our Saturday night dinner with the Lowden family was the best because I found out that Hermano Lowden served in Dad's homeward when Dad was a teenager! He loves Grandma and Grandpa and still remembered their address! He said he served in Santa Maria for about 6 months and that he spent a lot of time with the Crandalls! He said that one time he and his companion took Dad and David tracting, and they were planning on tracting for a couple of hours, but the boys left after one hour exactly. He also said Grandpa Crandall helped him out once with some dentist thing. So I believe he gave both Dad and Grandma a call. The world is a really small place if you're a Mormon!

     This morning I was pondering a statement that's included in both my mission call and Preach my Gospel. It says that more happiness than I've ever experienced awaits me as I serve my mission. Up to this point, I feel like I've had a really happy mission. It's been difficult, especially weeks like this one, but I'm very happy. It's not the so-happy-I'm-going-to-die kind of happy, but I feel so much more peace with who I am. I don't know how else to explain it but that my quality of life has more than tripled because I chose to serve a mission. I know how to face challenges, I know who I am, my testimony is much stronger, I have meaningful goals for my life, and I feel like I'm making a difference. 

     I used to think that this statement meant that I'd be super happy on my mission and then go back to being less happy after I finished. Now I understand that the happiness I've found on my mission will carry on with me after my mission because I've become a happy person. It's impossible to describe, but I've learned HOW to be happy! Hermana Sprunt said her MTC teacher said, "Life before my mission was horrible. Mission life was awesome! Post-mission life IS awesome!" So I guess what I'm trying to say is... I love my mission. Like Mommy wrote in her email, my mission is glorious! Now that I'm here, I can't imagine having not served. I'm excited about all the cool post-mission experiences I'll have, but right now I'm content to just keep knocking:)

Con todo mi corazon, Hermanita Crandall

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hey Hey Hey Henrico

Querida Familia,

*Lots of things happened this week. A few were pretty disappointing... 

     So we changed up the areas a bit and now we have a few more apartment complexes! Which is great, because before we were spending all day every day in the same complex. The Elders passed a potential over to us named Gladys. She is so golden! She told us in the first visit that she wants to get baptized! She already believes the church is true, and she said she loves members. She first met missionaries a few years ago on a night she was planning to commit suicide. The only problem is that she's living with her boyfriend who is married to a woman in El Salvador. They've been separated for 6 years, and he has a lawyer in El Salvador working on the divorce, but they can't find his wife. They originally separated because she ran off with another man. And Gladys doesn't want to separate from her boyfriend because they just had a baby girl a few months ago. This isn't the first time I've come across this problem. It's so frustrating because she wants to get baptized but can't unless she's willing to separate from the father of her children. And they're also super poor. So we'll keep working with that and pray for a miracle! There's really nothing that we can do except trust that God will make it happen if the timing is right.

     We also lost Osmin. I think I wrote about him before. He's the one that doesn't talk all that much and came to the states alone at 15. We weren't able to find him for a week, so we decided to take a week break. When we went back to his apartment, his roommate said that he went missing. They haven't seen Osmin since the last time we saw him, which was about 2.5 weeks ago. He left all of his stuff in the apartment and never came home one night. He has a drinking problem, so he's either in the hospital or in prison. I heard that they're not really deporting anyone right now, so he's probably still in the states. But he also told us that he wanted to return to his home country. Oh, and Osmin told us he was from Guatemala and his roommate said he's from Ecuador. We called a few hospitals and we have a member who works for the state and is going to look him up in the prison database. We have no idea what happened to him :(

     And we also dropped Elvira and her 5 kids. We really loved visiting with them, and they loved our visits, but they weren't progressing. Elvira told us flat out that she would not be baptized because she was born into her religion and didn't want to change. We've asked her over and over again to pray and read, but she won't. She was pretty sad when we dropped her because her kids were learning a lot. We told her to pray about it and call us if she changed her mind. It's really sad how people worry so much about what their earthly parents think instead of what our Heavenly Father thinks. Family traditions are super important, but not when they conflict with the truth.

     Saturday was Social Media Day in the mission! We had a YW who was going to come out with us in the morning and then a YSA who was going to come out with us in the evening/afternoon. They were supposed to take pictures of us all day and put them on twitter, instagram, and facebook. The YW called us at 10 PM the night before (we were already in bed) to cancel. She decided to go with the other Hermanas in our branch... I guess the other Hermanas didn't know that the YW was coming with us, so they called her and she decided to go with them instead. So that kind of hurt. Then the YSA didn't answer our calls or texts in the afternoon so she didn't go with us either. Buuut, we did do a service project in the morning which you can read about a little further below:)

*Some things that happened were kind of creepy...

     A creepy guy fell in love with me, which is the second time that's happened to me in Henrico. The first (a few weeks ago) was Diego. We street contacted him and he called a week later to let me know that he thinks it's really cool that I learned Spanish. Then he said he was at home and invited me over to visit him. He was using "tu" form which is singular and very personal, only to be used with family, close friends, or children. So I invited him to church. 

     The second guy, named David, was getting pretty creepy this week. He texted Hermana Sprunt and me and asked what God's name was. We called him back and talked a bit about God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He asked if Jehovah was the Father's name. I explained that Jehovah was Jesus Christ because He is the Creator. I told David that God's name is Heavenly Father, and that's how we should refer to Him. Later that night he texted us and said, "how would you respond to the person that likes the missionary?" In Spanish there are a lot of different ways to say the same thing, and basically the way he said it was very inappropriate. Needless to say we passed his info over to the Elders. I am so creeped out :P

*And some really great things happened!...

     So on Social Media Day we were pretty bummed to not have a member with us. But we did have a RS activity in the morning and the member (Hermana Ainsa) asked us to come by earlier to help set up. She's American and was going to teach how to make American desserts for Thanksgiving! She made us breakfast too:) And we got to help prepare some of the food. Only one of the RS Sisters showed up, so we decided to stay for the activity too and I learned how to make yummy homemade pie and cranberry relish! And she took a picture of us and posted it to facebook:) 

     And Hermana Ainsa gave us free tickets to the Science Museum in downtown Richmond so that's where we're going for P-day today! I am turning into you, Mommy! I love museums! Now I just need to get myself to some of the cemeteries downtown! And the holocaust museum.

     This week we tracted into a high school senior named Brian who said to come back later that night. When we came back, we taught him and his mom Teo. Brian knows one of the YM from the branch and he and his mom both really liked the message! They used to be catholic, but Teo stopped attending when her mom joined another church. They're both really open to learning and are going to pray about baptism.

     On Wednesday we had Zone Conference with 5 zones! I'm in Richmond West and we were with Ricmond East, Midlothian East and West, and Chesterfield. President Wilson gave a really great talk about how the restoration of the priesthood aligns with the four-fold mission of the church. And how the church departments are organized accordingly. It's so cool to be a part of the true restored Church of Jesus Christ!:) 

     Sunday was the Primary Program combined with the English ward, Gayton. It was really cute because a few of the kids shared their testimonies in English and then repeated them in Spanish. They also sang the first verse of "I Love to see the Temple" in English and then the first verse of it in Spanish! ("Me Encanta ver el Templo.") It was really sweet and now I want to be a Primary song leader some day. (I really am becoming more and more like Mom on my mission.)

     All in all, I had a really great week and I can't believe it's Monday already! The weeks just FLY BY! I still can't believe it's November. I love you all sooooooo much and I miss you lots. Have a happy week:)

Con amor, Hermanita Crandall

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Happy Halloween from Henrico!

Henrico Hermanas - Crandall, Sprunt, Powell & Payne
 Querida Familia,

     Hermana Sprunt and I had a fabulous week this week because we celebrated "the week of miracles!" For every street contact, we used this approach. We explained that it was miracle week and we asked everyone to share a miracle with us. It worked really well for some people, and others didn't like it as much and said they were too busy for things like that...haha. But it was a great way to get people talking about God and the blessings they've received! It also helped us get out of a street contact rut. We also saw lots of miracles and were able to find a couple of new investigators! We decided we're going to pick a new street approach for every week this month, and then hopefully at the end of the month, we'll have lots of cool ideas to use.

     On Tuesday we saw a really great miracle! We tracted into this black woman a few weeks ago, and she wasn't very interested, but said she used the church's familysearch program to do genealogy. About 2 weeks ago we saw some young guys doing a fundraiser for their football team in the apartment complex. We had an appointment across the street and from the window we could see that the two boys were harassing her. They kept knocking on her door and running, hiding, swearing, yelling, just being very disrespectful. A little while later the coach showed up and yelled at the woman as well. We felt really bad, so we put together a little treat bag and felt inspired to take it to her Tuesday night to apologize for what had happened to her. When we got to the door, we found out that her house had flooded, she's spent some time in the hospital (she has chronic health issues), and she was just having a really hard time. She was so touched by the treat bag. We offered to help her clean and have been in contact with her since! We're hoping to go by sometime this week to do some service.

     Tuesday was also great because we did an English fast for the entire day. We try to speak in Spanish outside of the apartment, but it's normally just me speaking in Spanish with Hermana Sprunt responding in English. So I got on her case a bit and we did the English fast. We even did companionship study in Spanish! It was really great and by the end of the day I felt like a champ:)

     Wednesday we did day exchanges with the other Hermanas. Hermana Payne, who's been in the field for almost 2 weeks, came with me and Hermana Sprunt went to their area with Hermana Powell. I knew it would be good experience for Hermana Sprunt to have a companion that's at her level with Spanish. It's too easy for her to rely on me to understand everything or to translate for her when she doesn't know how to say something. It really made her stretch and she said she could understand and speak better than before!

     On Thursday we had a Halloween party combined with the Gayton Ward (English). (Our YW and Primaries are also mixed with Gayton on Sundays.) Hermana Sprunt and I dressed up like "Hipster Missionaries" instead of "Sister Missionaries." We forgot the camera cord so I'll send the pictures next week. They did a trunk or treat, dinner, and pumpkin dessert contest which was the best thing of my life.

     We also had zone meeting this week which was nice. We talked about the law of chastity because this month is "no-no November." Each month we focus on a different temple covenant. Sacrifice September, obedience October, no-no November, and consecrated Christmas. It's really cool how on the mission we learn safe-guards that will help protect us after the mission. When I go home, I want to have a strict curfew and be really careful about the media that I choose. Not that I had horrible media choices before the mission, but I've just seen the difference that good media makes in my life. I looooove having the Spirit with me and I don't want to lose it!

     We also had Halloweeeen this week so that was cool! Last year, President wanted us in our apartments by 6. This year, if we didn't have appointments, he wanted us to spend the time with members. We had two lessons scheduled, but both fell through. We couldn't knock doors, and it seemed like all of the members were going to another member family's home for a big party. We didn't feel like it would be appropriate to show up at this big party. I said a little prayer in my heart to know what to do. The thought came to my mind to visit the Escoto family. They have 4 daughters. The oldest is 15, then 10, and then 8 year old twins. We figured the dad might be going out with the kids while the mom stays home. We wrote a thank you letter to Hermana Escoto because she comes out with us once a week, and we brought the Church D&C videos. 

     We stopped by their house and they let us in. The older two daughters were going out with friends, and the parents and the twins were going to stay home--they didn't have plans. Hermana Escoto heated up some dinner for us and we made popcorn and watched "Legado" (Legacy) and "Tan Solo un Carpintero" (Only a Stonecutter). It was so great! I started crying when she gave us dinner because I felt an overwhelming amount of love in my heart. I really love this family and I know they love me! It was so kind of them to let us in, without notice, on Halloween night. We were so grateful! I love this church and I know that it is true. I have never seen such generosity in my life! My heart was so touched:)

     The next day we had a branch dinner. (The picture I sent was from that.) Every member brought some food, we ate and chatted, and then we knelt in prayer together to start a fast for missionary work. It was a neat experience and the Spirit was super strong!

     Then we had the time change, which we didn't know about until the Zone Leaders texted us at 10 PM. So we got an extra hour of sleep which was a huge tender mercy!

     Anyway, great Sabbath day. All is well. Juan is still reading, Kelly and Herlim are still cute, we're still working to find Hispanics, Henrico is a little piece of Heaven, and I'm still a little Rahrah.

I love you all so much:)

Love,  Hermanita Crandall

*PS - You didn't think I'd forgotten, did you???

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DARCI!!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!

I love you both so dearly and miss you like crazy!:) Shout out to two beautiful women!

*PPS - On Saturday Nov. 8th the mission is doing "social media day." So look out for #LDSinVA on twitter, instagram, and facebook! Every missionary is going to have a member with them for the day to document the life of a Virginia Richmond Missionary! I believe "The Book of Mormon" the musical is also starting in Richmond this week and a few missionaries will be outside the showing to pass out some copies so the two will coincide very nicely. (The book is better!:)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hispanic Things that Happen in Henrico

Sis Sprunt - Sis Crandall
Querida Familia,

     Hi, I realized that I haven't been writing that much about the Christlike attributes that I'm studying. But I'm still studying one each month! And this month, October, I've been studying about knowledge.

     There's a phrase in PMG that I love that says "no one can know a spiritual truth without prayer." Praying to know if the Gospel is true is super important! I skip over this step a lot. I like learning about Gospel things, and they always make sense to me, but I also need to pray to gain a spiritual confirmation. Knowledge is nothing unless it's paired with testimony and conversion!

     In the Bible Dictionary is says that "one progresses only as fast as he gains knowledge." That reminds me of a scripture in D&C 130 that says that when we gain knowledge by diligence and obedience in this life, we will have an advantage in the next life. I think we also have an advantage in this life too:) And that advantage is over Satan.
     "Revelation" in the BD talks about how to gain knowledge: "The principle of gaining knowledge by revelation is the principle of salvation...[without divine revelation] man could not know of the things of God and could not be saved with any degree of salvation in the eternities." We can't be saved in ignorance! This reminds me of all that mom has been studying--When we are reverent we gain revelation, which helps us gain knowledge, which is the principle of salvation!
     PMG also teaches that "the scriptures open the window to revelation." When I meet people--members included--who say that they are too busy to read the scriptures, it just breaks my heart. Don't they get it??? That's all we really need to do! It makes me think about the talk that Sister Reeves gave in the April Conference. The Church isn't asking too much from its members. All God asks is that we put Him first! It's those three simple things: go to church, pray, and read the scriptures. If we're doing those things and making those the priority, then we'll have reverent lives! Not just reverent moments.

     And lastly, today I was reading in D&C 121 and I really liked verse 33. Basically God says that the arm of man is "puny" and we can never stop Him from "pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints."

     Which makes me think of the Temple!.......

     Which Millie went to this week:) And everyone decided to NOT take pictures so that I wouldn't be able to see any of them. So I've been pretty reflective on my temple covenants this week and how serving a mission has taught me what it means to keep a covenant. I roomed with Sister Nelson in Stafford for three transfers, and she went home in September. After the departing temple trip, I asked her what it was like going to the temple after not having gone for so long. She said that she understood the session better than she did before her mission. Even though I don't have the opportunity to go to the temple regularly (or at all), I know that I will understand it better when I go back. I've forgotten a lot of things, but I sure do remember and understand my covenants! 

     Anyway so this week we had a nice week. It was pretty sloooow after we dropped Maria and her family last week. We used to see them at least 3 times a week. We also dropped 3 or 4 other investigators who weren't really progressing and weren't as interested. My teaching pool has never been this small, but it's cool how we can focus more on those that really want to make covenants! We've spent quite a bit of time tracting and street contacting, and I feel like we find 4 interested Americans for every interested Hispanic. The English Sisters just love us and our referrals!

     On Tuesday we street contacted Ashley who was waiting at the bus stop for her son to come home. He's only 3, but attends a special class for autistic children. She's a single mom and she's really concerned about raising her son alone. He also doesn't speak yet. We chatted with her a bit and explained how the church could bless her life. She was really interested and asked us to pray with her before we left. It was kind of like that experience I had with Porfiria last summer. I explained to Ashley that we didn't have priesthood power, but we had been given authority as representatives of Jesus Christ. I said a prayer for her son, right there on the street, and promised her that one day her son would speak. It terrified me, but I have faith that it will happen! The English Sisters went by to teach her last week, and they said that she accepted a baptismal date within 15 minutes!!! I'm so excited!!!!!!!:) 

     I've come to realize that as a missionary, I have to talk to everyone! God puts people in my path, Hispanic and American, who are prepared to receive the Gospel! For this reason, I've come to love street contacting more than tracting. Tracting is a little less natural. Yes, God can lead us to inspired doors, but it's much more natural to just put them in our paths. Usually the people are more receptive to street contacts than to knocking on their doors. There have been so many times where I've wanted to skip someone because we were in a hurry or they didn't look interested or it felt awkward.  When I feel this way I seek for a little burst of courage to talk to them and it always works out:) God really loves His children.

     We're still teaching Juan, and he has started reading a ton from the Book of Mormon! He said that he can for sure come to church next week! He's already in 2 Nefi!!! He really likes it, and wants to know if it's true.

     We taught Kelly and her brother Herlim the Word of Wisdom. It was so cute. "No coffee???" Then when we committed them to live it for a week, Herlim said, "I'm going to stop for the rest of my life!" Yay!:)

     We're teaching Elvira and her 5 kids. (The older 4 are boys and it's so cute to watch them take care of their little sister!) We talked about Lehi's dream and tied a ribbon from their porch to a tree in the back yard. They had to close their eyes and make it to the tree where their mom was waiting with candy. One of the boys, the youngest, didn't want to do it. We talked with Elvira afterwards about how bad God feels when we don't want to be with Him. It was a really great lesson! I love teaching kids:)

     One of the reasons why this week was slow was probably because it was transfer week...that seems to slow down everything, even when I'm not being transferred. Hermana Powell is staying here and she's training Hermana Payne from Utah! (la fabrica--Spanish for the factory because all they do in Utah is produce missionaries, according to all the members here.) Hermana Powell's only been out 2 transfers, so her Spanish isn't super great/fluent yet. She's been pretty nervous, so we're going to do a part day exchange on Wednesday as well as do a combined language study. I think she's a great trainer and Hermana Payne seems really nice:) And surprise! A new set of Elders showed up! Somehow that didn't get communicated to us missionaries in the Branch nor the Zone Leaders. They got a car (which we didn't when we arrived...) but for a couple days they didn't have a phone and they still don't have an apartment. (They're living with the English Elders in Innsbrook.) The Branch is super hyped because now we have 2 sets of Elderes y 2 sets of Hermanas!!! 8 missionaries! I'm not sure how this little Ramita is going to feed all of us and supply member presents! 

     The Branch also had a sealing on Saturday:) The Vindiola Familia was sealed in the temple! We got to go to the reception and it was very nice. And crazy and Hispanic. 

     And Hermana Sprunt's birthday was yesterday, so that was fun. She got some music from her family, including FROZEN in Spanish! We have to skip all of the love songs, but we're trying to memorize "Libre Soy" ("I am Free," and in English, "Let it Go"). That makes car rides a little less boring;) 

Okay that's all for todayyy....

Love you all so much! Have a happy week!:)

Love, Hermanita Crandall

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Henrrrrrico!

Sister Crandall's Polynesian Display
Querida familia,

     Sometimes I share about investigators, other times I share more about experiences I'm having, and then sometimes I have just learned so much stuff in one week that I have to focus on that! So here's a quick update on my investigators and then I'll move on to what I've been learning!:)

     Juan (Cuban) is great and has begun reading the LdM! He loves it! He needs to get a wrist surgery which is really scary for him because he'll be out of work for a while. It was a work-related accident so he's hoping they'll help him out.

     We had to drop Maria, the one with the BYU sticker. And with the daughter that just adored us. It was really hard, but they "friend-zoned" us. They started attending church with their roommates. They said that they wanted us to keep coming back so we could have Gospel discussions where they could also share what they're learning in their church. It sounds nice and all, but we're full time missionaries and that won't help us accomplish our purpose. Hermana Sprunt and I were super nervous, but they seemed to accept it okay. This was the first time I've ever had to drop an investigator like that. Normally they start avoiding us or miss appointments or tell us they don't want us back.

     Kelly is still coming to church, and we had the baptism talk with her mom. She said no for right now, but that we can keep teaching her. We helped her understand that we'll teach Kelly and prepare her so that she can make her own choice. The mom seemed to like that and then fed us delicious coconut chicken. (That's how you can tell if a Hispanic woman likes you!)

     Osmin is new-ish. He doesn't say much and we weren't sure how much he was understanding. He's unemployed, doesn't have a car, doesn't have a phone, and lives with a few friends. We told him to meet us at McDonalds (within walking distance) at noon on Saturday. It was kind of like a test to see if he really was interested. And he came!:) We taught him the Word of Wisdom. He needs a lot of help, but he seems genuinely interested in changing! And because he doesn't work, we see him about 4 or 5 times a week!

*Okay so here's what I've been learning. And it's kind of tied into an experience:

     President Wilson told me in August that I would be Hermana Training Leader soon. I was really expecting and hoping for it to happen this upcoming transfer, since after this next transfer all of the Hermanas older than me will go home. But I also knew that I was in the middle of training Hermana Sprunt. But I thought that last transfer too when I was with Hermana Quinones. Anyway, I had a dream that I wouldn't get the call, but another Hermana serving in Henrico would. I was very nervous all day Saturday because I knew it was going to happen that way and I didn't want to feel disappointed. And it happened exactly like my dream. 

     I felt very disappointed in myself. I really don't trust my emotions. In my head I knew that it was perfectly okay because I love love love Hermana Sprunt and I made a two transfer commitment to train her. That and it's just another assignment, being HTL wouldn't make me any different than who I am now. And I know I'll have opportunities to serve in the future. But I still just felt bad.

     The next morning I read in 2 Nefi 31, which is my favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon. I love at the very beginning where it explains that God speaks to us in a way that we can understand. He has always given me revelation through thoughts, not through feelings. I think it's partially because of my depression, because I can't always trust my feelings. In my head, I know that everything's okay, but yet I still feel icky. 

     Anyway, I read on about repentance and baptism. Then I started to question my worthiness. Satan was trying to manipulate my feelings. 

     I was an ornery and annoying teenage girl. I didn't have great friends, I didn't make all of the right choices, but I think I turned out alright. However, for so long I've felt that somehow I couldn't be as great as others because of mistakes I've made in the past. I've felt like my Patriarchal Blessing was only so-so because I was a so-so person. I've felt that I could never reach perfection because I had further to go than everyone else. I have always compared myself to my three sisters in this regard. All three of them were very obedient to my parents, always did what was right, and never made any serious mistakes. I felt like everyone would always think of me as the misfit, imperfect, out-of-line Crandall daughter and I would spend the rest of my life trying to live up to them and everyone else around me. (Or at least that's how I saw/see the world.) 

     To be completely honest, I felt like I wasn't chosen to be HTL because I'm not a good enough missionary. I really struggled with companions during my 4th and 5th transfer, so I thought maybe President Wilson could only remember that.

     I felt prompted to read a BYU devotional talk by Elder Holland called "Remember Lot's Wife."

     It says, "When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is NOT right to go back and open up some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died trying to heal."

     I definitely feel like a lot of wonderfully good things have happened on my mission. It wouldn't have been possible if I wasn't worthy to be here. 

     He also said, "Dismiss the destructive and keep dismissing it until the beauty of the Atonement of Christ has revealed to you your bright future and the bright future of your family and your friends and your neighbors. God doesn't care nearly as much about where you have been as He does about where you are and, with His help, where you are willing to go."

     "Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ truly is the high priest of good things to come."

     After reading this talk I felt so much comfort and peace that my Heavenly Father loves me. He has already forgotten and I need to move on and let it go. It might seem silly to all of you, but I just needed a simple reminder that God needs me here for a reason:) I really love Henrico and my companion and I'm really excited to keep working with the investigators here. I just need lots of reminders that He loves me because I think I forget that way too often. I feel a lot better because I feel like I know now what it is that makes me feel depressed. I feel like I understand myself a whole lot better. 

     Anyway, sorry that was super dramatic I promise I'm normally very level headed and everything is just fine;) 

Sister Brunt's Peruvian Display
     Attached are some pics from our branch "Noche de Las Naciones!" It was basically a contest between Guatemala and Ecuador. Hermana Sprunt made some yummy papa a la huancaina! (Her mom is Peruvian.) And I made a little "Islas" table... see above!:)

     Love you all soooo much! Thank you for letting me share my deepest feelings with you;)

Hermanita Crandall