Monday, February 24, 2014

The Mechanicsville Manzana

Querida Familia!
     Last week on P-day, I wrote that I was terribly sick. I ended up losing about 5 pounds (#morefitforthekingdom) and we weren't able to go out that night. BUT, I received an amazing priesthood blessing from my new ward mission leader, Brother Murrell. He told me that God knows everything I'm thinking and feeling. I feel as if the blessing applied more to my mission situation than it did to my illness.
     On Tuesday night, Hermana Pratt and I went Hispanic Hunting--grocery store style. I call it "Store Stalking." We walked around Walmart trying to find Hispanics to talk to. It was about 8 pm and there was only one Hispanic couple in the entire store! And we circled it five times! Anyway, I used the lame "I'm trying to learn Spanish" excuse to talk to them. We then invited them to attend our free English class! (The Church has produced a program called "Daily Dose" that is great for teaching English.)
     On Wednesday, we had Sisters Meeting for all of the Sisters in the mission. It was weird seeing Sister Olsen again, especially because she's with Sister Stephens now. And I'm not with her anymore. And we're not together. And we're no longer companions.
     The theme was "My Psalm" and we focused on the Psalms and things we do to show praise for God (how we dress, unity, happiness, and fulfilling our purpose). In the happiness class, the member teaching went on about how she goes to the temple to feel happy. I'm pretty sure every missionary in the room was ready to weep and wail and gnash their teeth. In case I've never mentioned it before, I MISS THE TEMPLE SO MUCH. Anyway, I love something that President Wilson taught: How can I tell that I'm doing my best? I'm comfortable with failure. If I'm uncomfortable with failure, that means I could be doing more.

     Thursday was District Meeting, which is held in downtown Richmond. If you get the chance, look up the church on 300 W Grace St. in Richmond. It's right in the middle of the city! And while Hermana Pratt and I were there, our new companion showed up!! Her name is Hermana Daniela Depablos, and she is from Caracas, Venezuela. This is her Temple Square outbound mission. If you haven't heard of that, every Temple Square Sister gets to spend two transfers in a stateside mission. She's been out for 9 months, but she still has the same fire and excitement of a brand new missionary! She's 22 (almost 23) and is also a business student, except she's pre-law. Her English is really cute. She always says, "This is so sad/terrible/happy/good/bad/etc." for everything.
     La Manzana del Templo is how you say Temple Square in Spanish. Manzana also means apple. So....that's where the subject line comes from:)
     After District Meeting finished, we decided that we'd all go to Subway to pick up lunch. It's on Broad St., which is also where VCU is located. It was super busy and we all took a few cards with us and street contacted like crazy! Two black guys (who had already talked to the Elders) asked me for my number;) I told them that if they were baptized, we could discuss it further. The Elders started talking to one older man, and he told them that he'd prefer to talk to the pretty ladies....hahaha:) Fun times. Look up Broad St. on Googlemaps, too. It's right behind the church and it's really neat!
     I feel somewhat responsible for the experience that Hermana Depablos has, because she only gets 12 weeks here. I want to make sure that she has as many missionary experiences as possible. I can tell that she has the same disappointments with the area that I do--we can't attend church with our investigators. In Temple Square, she teaches investigators around the world over the phone and she's unable to attend church with them or go to their baptisms. She was expecting to be able to do that here. ( fact...Temple Square is one of the highest baptizing missions!)
     Being in a threesome companionship is pretty challenging. I only teach about 1/15th of each lesson, if even that much. I don't know the language well enough to be able to insert myself during a lesson. If I want to say something I have to wait for a long enough pause to be able to pull my thoughts together. And by then, someone's already said what I wanted to say. Or the subject has changed. I have to remember that I'm supposed to be teaching by the Spirit...It's the Spirit that speaks, not me. My Spanish is frustrating because I can talk about a lot of things, but I don't know all of the correct vocabulary for Gospel topics.
     On Saturday, we went to contact a referral named Sara. She wasn't very interested, but on the drive there, we saw a huge flea market. We stopped by afterwards and did some contacting for about an hour or two. We mostly invited people to come to our English class! Hermana Depablos and I also taught the message of the Restoration under someone's tent. It was a really neat experience! The woman said she had a Book of Mormon, but she couldn't remember who Joseph Smith was. Hermana Depablos jumped right in and I was able to recite the first vision in Spanish. I've attached a picture of the flea market:)
     Lastly, we had the opportunity to attend Sacrament Meeting in the Henrico Rama (Branch) on Sunday! I think Hermana Pratt said this was her first time actually being able to go. It took us 5 days to get permission:P But, Filiberto, a convert of one month, was speaking! He gave a beautiful talk on charity and the Atonement:) I was able to understand most of the service! I wish that we could attend every week!
     Now I'm going to write some notes I've taken about patience. They are scattered, but hopefully you can pull something out of it! I feel like I've had ample opportunities to learn about this attribute so far this month.
*D&C 101:38 - "In patience ye may possess your souls." Patience is self control!
*Romans 5:3 - tribulation worketh patience, which helps us gain experience! It's not "experience" if it didn't take patience.
*"Continue in patience until ye are perfected" D&C 67:13 (GRACE!)
*D&C 123:17 - Standing STILL, being STILL, and trusting God.
*Still small voice = a patient voice.
*Mark 4:39 - Only Christ can calm the sea (or us!)
*Fasting will help us develop more patience
*Enduring to the end CHEERFULLY
*Patience is more than just waiting - it's preparing!
*"Capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious.... Hold up under pressure and face adversity calmly and hopefully." PMG
*"We count them happy which endure" James 5:11
*"Be STILL and know that I am God" (TG: Silence)

     I love you all! And I'm so grateful for the patience you have for me:)
Love, Hermana Crandall
*PS - Please write me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In case you didn't catch my address last week, here it is again:
7168 Hunter Circle
Mechanicsville, VA 23111

Monday, February 17, 2014

La Misionera en Mechanicsville

Hermana Sarah Crandall
7168 Hunter Circle
Mechanicsville, VA  23111
Querida Familia,

     It has been a CRAZY week. Transfers were supposed to be on Thursday, but there was a "huge snow storm" in Virginia so it was postponed to Saturday. The incoming missionaries had to spend two extra days in the MTC because their flight was delayed! I was grateful for the extra time in the 'Keek to pack and say goodbye.

     Tonya was not happy about me leaving. I hope she loves the new sister just as much! The Fishers took it really well, but of course they've been investigating since July and they've gone through multiple sets of Elders. Mommy Fisher said she finally wants to be baptized!:) Hopefully she and Daddy will be baptized together in March:) We stopped by to see the boys on Valentine's day and made Valentines with them. Jordy, the 6 year old, made me 5 Valentines. He only made Sister Olsen 1. I think he has a little crush on me;)

     I'm so grateful for Accokeek and everything that I was able to learn and experience there!

     My new area is Mechanicsville, in Hanover County. I'm about 15 minutes NE of Richmond. I was able to drive by Richmond for the first time, and the city is really cool looking! My new companion, Hermana Emily Pratt, is from Orem. She went to Timpanogos High School and we graduated the same year! She's planning on attending BYU-I after her mission. (She's about half-way finished...she came out with Sister Olsen.)

      This is the weird thing about the area: We are attending an English ward. We're still teaching in Spanish, but our investigators attend the Henrico (hen-RYE-co) Spanish Branch which is in the county next to us. So we never go to church with our investigators. We're fed and taken care of by the Mechanicsville Ward, but they already have an English set of Elders and Sisters that work with less actives. The Henrico Branch also has two sets of Spanish missionaries, and they help support the less actives and other needs of the branch.

     We cover the Spanish needs of four English wards: Mechanicsville, Chickahominy, Tappahannock, and Scotchtown. (We live in the boundaries of Chickahominy.) And we cover the towns of Mechanicsville, Sandston, Ashland, and Tappahannock, and maybe more. Basically we have no idea where our boundaries are, and it's difficult to get member present lessons and referrals. (There's almost no communication between us and the Presidente of the Branch.) We don't have a map of the area yet, but I'm going to talk to the Zone Leaders about it. Hermana Pratt has only been in this area for 6 weeks, so she's still trying to figure it out. And of course, I'm super lost;)

     Also, Mechanicsville kind of reminds me of Nephi, except with more townhomes. The houses are spaced and sized similarly. It's not as affluent as Stafford, and it feels more like a southern town than Stafford did.

     Oh, and exciting news! In two weeks we're going to become a trio! An Hermana from Temple Square will be joining us! Apparently she's a native speaker. I hope I have things a little more under control before she gets here:)

*Cool story from Sister Olsen:
     Her grandpa was a mission president in San Diego. He had an interview with a missionary one day, and the Elder said that he wanted to be switched to a foreign language. (In San Diego, they have missionaries for English, Spanish, Hmong, Mandarin, Vietnamese, etc.) The Elder said that his Patriarchal Blessing promised him that he would learn a foreign language for his mission. He insisted that he could learn it while in the field. Her grandpa reviewed his records--he had never taken a foreign language class and he received average grades in school. He turned the Elder down. Just because something is promised to us in our Patriarchal Blessing doesn't mean that it's going to happen. We have to qualify and prepare for it. This applies to lots of things--missionary service, marriage, having children, etc.

     I used to feel frustrated when people were called to Spanish speaking missions and I was not. I took three semesters of it, and I felt like I was pretty good at it. After reading more about spiritual gifts in the scriptures, I learned that it is literally a GIFT given to us to be given the opportunity to learn a language! If there are gifts that we want that aren't given to us, there are things we can do to qualify for it. I feel like that's something that I've done.

     The reason why I said all of that is that I feel pretty frustrated with my new area.

     I LOVE MECHANICSVILLE. I remember seeing it on the mission map, and thinking it sounded cool. I wanted the opportunity to serve here. But it's going to be difficult to learn Spanish while attending an English ward. I asked Hermana Pratt how she learned Spanish...she said that the things that helped most were attending a Spanish branch, having meals with families in Spanish, and the resources she received at the MTC. I don't have any of those right now:/

     My frustration right now is that I feel like I was given the gift to learn Spanish, but then it was wrapped up in 50 billion layers of wrapping paper.

     Last night I was praying about why I was here--there must be a really good reason. I'm pretty sure this is the only Spanish area in the mission where the missionaries attend an English ward. I remembered a scripture in Alma (chapter 13, I believe) that says "be it sooner or later, in it I will rejoice." Whether or not I learn Spanish in this area or the next, I'm really happy! When President extended this assignment to me, he asked if I would be willing to serve as an Hermana for the remainder of my mission. I know that I will have other areas and other opportunities to learn the language. For now, I'll do the best that I can to learn here!

     Anyway, I also received a pretty big prompting as to why I'm here. Which is super comforting:) It's kind of personal, but I have a good idea of what talents and gifts I can use to accomplish my purpose. (And I'm not talking about hula dancing...)

     I haven't been here for very long, but I've already been through two lessons in Spanish! The first was with Veronica, who has been investigating for a long time. (Most Hispanics investigate for forever. They love to talk about God, so all of them let us in.) Her friend Emma was present, so we have a new investigator! We also taught a recent convert lesson to Filiberto, who was baptized a month ago. He's preparing to speak next Sunday about caridad y la expiacion (charity and the Atonement).

     I can understand pretty much everything that goes on during the lesson. I can understand Spanish really well, especially if they're Mexican. (My 102 teacher was Mexican, and my 105 teacher was white, but served a mission in Texas speaking Spanish Mexicano.) It's more difficult to say what I want to say. I can bear my testimony, and Hermana Pratt says my Spanish is better than hers was when she left the MTC. Hopefully I'll pick up on it soon!

     On Sunday afternoon, we went "Hispanic Hunting." It's sort of like tracting, except a lot more racist. We target homes that look Hispanic. I would tell you what indications we look for, but it's incredibly stereotypical. Unfortunately, we found two white families and a black family to refer to the Mechanicsville Sisters. What??? It's going to be hard to find new investigators;)

     My final story is about the Word of Wisdom. My Patriarchal Blessing specifically states that I need to be living the WOW in order to receive certain blessings. So of course, it's an important commandment to me. Sister Olsen and I ate and exercised very similarly, but Hermana Pratt has different eating habits from me.

     Yesterday I ate three cookies and I spent the whole night sick. I threw up in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep for two hours. Then during personal study this morning, I spent half of it on the floor of the bathroom waiting for my stomach to make up its mind. When I wasn't doing that, I was reading D&C 89 to repent. I hurt still, but at least I was able to make it out of the house. Yay. I had a lot of Hispanic food in Stafford, so I feel like I'll adjust to that well. It's just sugar. Sugar KILLS me. I have a really weak stomach.

     Anyway.........that was a super long email.

     I'm happy to be here:) I love being close to Richmond! I love Hermana Pratt! And I love Filiberto. And the members here are amazing, and so willing to help! I love my new home and the trees, etc. And the library here is less busy;)

     Don't forget to send me mail!:)  Con amor,  Hermana Crandall

*PS - Soy feliz!:)
*PPS - There's a poster of Aqua Man in our apartment. Apparently the Zone Leaders put it up there when the area was opened (August 2013) and no one has taken it down yet.

Adios, Accokeek!

Good-bye Sister Olsen
     Hey!! Sorry I forgot to send this last week;) hahahahah. So for all of you studying patience for this month, I've given you a great opportunity to practice!:) Here is my email from last Monday, February 10, 2014:

Querida Familia,

     You read that right! This little sister is leaving the 'Keek AND becoming a little Hermana! 

     About 2.5 weeks ago, I had an interview with President Wilson. I had previously mentioned to him that I was interested in switching to Spanish. During the interview, I brought it up again. I told him that I would feel comfortable switching as early as April, or possibly during the Summer. President Wilson said that he'd been thinking and praying about it a lot, and that he wanted to switch me this next transfer! I accepted. He said he had a favor to ask of me...he wanted to give me a blessing! It was definitely one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. I was promised the gift of tongues as I continue to study Spanish spiritually. Last night I received the call to confirm my changing assignment. I will spend the rest of my mission as an Hermana! (Pronounced air-MAW-nuhh:) Sister Olsen will remain in Accokeek, and she will also begin serving as a Sister Training Leader (female Zone Leader).

     As part of my preparation, President Wilson had me attend a special Spanish training in Richmond on Tuesday. Sister Olsen spent the day with the Sister Training Leaders and I went with the Hermanas from Stafford and Woodbridge. It was a lot of fun and the food was amazing! Most of the training was in English, but I was able to understand the testimonies, prayers, and songs, which were in Spanish.

     The switch will officially take place on Thursday this week! Prayers are super appreciated:)

*Other cool things that happened this past week:

     Sister Olsen and I went to Goodwill on P-day! I found four skirts for $20. An older woman/widow in the ward, Sister Embrey, enjoys feeding us lunch every other week or so. I love spending time with her and talking about genealogy! We had a ward party Saturday night. Two investigators and two less actives that we've been working with attended. It was an adult social and we played minute-to-win-it games. We had a 24 hour exchange with the Sister Training Leaders, and I stayed in Accokeek with Sister French. It was great to see how my investigators responded to a new missionary. It's the same Gospel, no matter who the messenger! We went to Fredericksburg today so Sister Olsen could be finger printed for a background check for her visa. (Can you believe she's been out for 8 months and still no visa???)

*Here's an update on my lovely investigators:

     The Fishers are still progressing. I love this family so dearly, and it will break my heart to leave them! I hope I'll be able to go to the temple with them at the end of my mission!

     Wendy is able to go up and down the stairs now. She's going to be so heart broken when I disappear, but hopefully she'll love the new sister:) She plans on attending church when her knee heals more fully. She wants to bring her family!!!

     Sister Olsen and I are probably going to drop Tonya. My heart hurts so much, but I feel it's the right thing. She hasn't been progressing in weeks now, she's missed two baptismal dates, and she just won't keep commitments. Even though she wants to continue meeting with us, that doesn't mean it's the best thing for her spiritual progression.

     Alex is home! We've passed him over to the Elders, and they've already taught him twice. He said he met missionaries in Honduras, but we're not sure how much contact they had with him.

     Brenda is a new investigator! I'm not sure if I've mentioned her before or not. Sister Olsen found her tracting while on an exchange. She's golden! She's looking for a church to attend, and she accepted everything we taught in the Restoration. She's unsure about baptism, but that's a matter of understanding priesthood authority. I fully believe she'll be baptized some day in the future:)

     I don't talk about Steve and Sheila very much, but Sheila is incredibly regular about coming to church. In fact, she wants everyone to think that she's a member. Steve has begun to attend with her and said we can teach him the lessons! They won't be getting married until next fall, but shortly thereafter I hope that both will be baptized!!


     As excited as I am for my new assignment, I'm sad to leave behind Accokeek. After church on Sunday, Sister Olsen and I stopped by the Bishop's office to get candy. We had a long chat with Bishop Carver and Brother Jenkins (counselor). Bishop Carver said there's a huge distinction between "great girls" and "great Sisters," and that we are "great Sisters!" I'm so happy for the opportunity I had to serve in this ward.

     About a year ago, I submitted my mission papers for the first time. On March 31st, Easter Sunday, I was told that I needed to wait to serve a mission. The Accokeek Ward was formed on the very same day. Sister Olsen and I "pink-washed" the area--meaning that we were the first Sisters here. If I had come on my mission any time earlier than I did, I might not have had the opportunity to be here. 

     When I submitted my papers the second time, I felt very strongly that I was going to be called Spanish speaking because of all the work I put into learning and loving Spanish. My Patriarchal Blessing also specifically mentions the use of my gifts of communication on my mission. I also felt that I was ready to serve a mission and I needed to enter the field as soon as possible. When I received my call, I only had six weeks before entering the MTC. If I had been assigned Spanish speaking, I would have had to wait another six weeks or so in order to go to the CCM in Mexico. 

     In all of my prayer and reflection, I have learned that I was supposed to serve in Accokeek and I am supposed to become an Hermana. It just feels right!

     Siento bendecida por la oportunidad que tenia servir en el barrio Accokeek! Estoy agradecida for la oportunidad ahora de llegar a ser una hermana! Estoy nerviosa, pero yo se que mi Padre Celestial me conoce y me ama. Voy a hacer todas las cosas en mi poder de aprender y usar espanol para bendecer las vidas de los hispanos en Virginia. Yo se que la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias es la Iglesia unicamente verdadera en el mundo! Yo se que El Libro de Mormon es la palabra de Dios y fue translado por Jose Smith por el Espiritu Santo porque lo he leido. Estoy feliz porque yo se que soy una hija de Dios:)

I love you all super much!!!!!  Hermana Crandall

*PS - I have no idea where I'm going, but you will get a new address from me next week!
*PPS - Happy Valentine's Day!:)
*PPPS - Virginia is for lovers. <3

Monday, February 3, 2014


Dear Family,

I hope you all had a great week!

     Sister Olsen and I were finally able to teach a lesson that I've been looking forward to for a long time. Every Wednesday afternoon, we teach three boys: Steven, Jordy, and David. Their mom is a less active member in the Spanish Branch, and their dad (divorced) is Catholic. They all want to be baptized, but dad won't let them. And mom works on Sundays, so they can't go to church. This past week we taught them about missionary work! We made them little name tags and taught them to sing "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission!" We asked where they wanted to serve missions; two want to go to Brazil, and one to El Salvador. It was the cutest thing in the entire world and I wanted to bawl my eyes out:) I attached a picture of us with the boys! (Sorry my camera doesn't take great pictures.)

     Besides that, most of our investigators are right about where they were last week. Tonya is teaching me patience, as we strive to get her to come to church. She knows what she wants to do, but she just won't do it!

     This past week we had Zone Meeting, and I was asked to give a training on computer usage. In the Richmond Mission, we use computers for 1.5 hours on Monday to email and for 1 hour on Friday to compile teaching records and surf-the-web on LDS sites (LDS Newsroom, Mormons and Gays, LDS Youth, etc.). I talked about the rules in the white handbook, and then asked about things we can do during our 1 hour on Friday. The time can either be wasted, or it can be used to print conference talks for investigators, print the church logo for children's missionary tags, or what have you. Sister Olsen and I looked up the profiles of our Zone Leaders (Elders Hitesman and Jensen) and printed them out so I could show them off during the training. It was pretty funny:)

Here is a long story short--Sister Olsen and I pulled over on a back road and got stuck in mud. It has been raining a lot and it didn't even cross our minds that we could get stuck. The road isn't very busy, and as we tried to get out, not many people passed us. Sister Olsen felt impressed to wave down the next person to pass us. Fortunately for us, he works for the commonwealth! He turned around and parked behind us. At first, he told us that we would need to get the car towed. We were both very embarrassed and we worried about how we would pay for it. However, he said we could try a few more times. Sister Olsen got a lot of mud on her boots and skirt, but we made it out! I'm so grateful that God sent this man at the perfect time to help us out of a bad situation!

This is an update from More Fit For the Kingdom! I can do 20 girl push-ups now:) I know it's not a lot to be impressed about, but it's difficult to do with my sticky arms. I've also lost almost 2 pounds! Sister Olsen and I are getting a lot better at turning down sweets and treats. We eat smaller portion sizes and we snack on veggies and fruits. I used to wake up a lot during the night. Now I sleep through almost every night and I wake up a few minutes before the alarm each morning! I have more energy, too! My Patriarchal Blessings specifically mentions the importance of living the Word of Wisdom. What a powerful principle with promise!:) I encourage all of you to read it again and evaluate how you can better apply it to your life!

I also highly encourage reading the newest Ensign. And the Old Testament.

     Sorry, not a lot to tell happened this week. Sister Olsen and I are teaching a lot and we're working hard!:)

Love,  Sister Crandall

*PS - Transfer calls are next Sunday. Transfers are around Feb. 13th. If you're going to send any mail, make sure you send it by this Tuesday or Wednesday in case I leave Stafford! Also...just going to throw this out there...I haven't received mail in two weeks;)