Monday, March 31, 2014

The Battle of Fredericksburg

Querida Familia,

     Sorry I had so much to say to Mommy that I don't have as much time to write all of you:) Last Monday after emailing, Hermana Agurcia and I went to the battlefield visitor's center with Hermana Warren. She's a gringa widow in the branch. Her husband was from Honduras. She doesn't speak a lot of Spanish, but she attends anyway and serves in the primary. She said she's going to take us touring on P-days:) When we went to the visitors' center, my first questions was, "which side won?" And the man at the desk answered, "we did, of course!"--referring to the Confederacy...oh the South:) Here is a little history about the Battle of Fredericksburg:

     Fred is about half way between Richmond and DC. The Rappahannock River separates Fred from Stafford, and was really important for shipping supplies, etc. Because of this, it was a great stronghold for the South. In December 1862, the Union started crossing the Rappahannock and all the townspeople fled to Spotsylvania County. There was a huge battle IN the city and the Union took hold of it. The Confederates fled to Sunken Road, which is on a hill overlooking the city. The Union troops destroyed all of the property and then prepared to move up the hill. The Confederacy had better field positioning, because Sunken Road is kind of like a trench. SO, they killed like one billion Union troops. The Union General refused to back down so pretty much every soldier died on the hill. And almost no Confederates died. After the Civil War was over, the hill became a cemetery for Union soldiers and there are more than 15,000 buried there. There are also a few old houses still standing with bullet holes. I've included some pictures of Sunken Road, me, the battlefield, a house, etc. Most of the stone wall has been rebuilt, but some of it is still from the 1800's. And there was a statue of a Confederate who brought water to wounded Union soldiers.
     ANYWAY, my reason in writing about this is I've been reflecting on the battle that I'm fighting in here in Fredericksburg! I'm waging the war against sin! It's especially difficult with Hispanics. They feel the Spirit, they know the message is true, they know they need to change, but they just won't do it! Sometimes I feel like my investigators are the enemy;) In reality, it's the adversary. He wants us to take the path of least resistance. So many of our investigators are not legally married. (Probably because so many are not legally here??) They talk about how important Jesus is to them, but they don't want to follow his commandments. Change is hard, but that's why we have the Atonement!

     And then there's Eric, the 8 year old. He is so humble and in tune to the Spirit. He attended church again yesterday! We've talked with his parents, and they aren't very interested. I truly understand now why children are the greatest in the Kingdom of God! We need to be more like them. We talked with the ward mission leader about whether or not he should be baptized. I don't want to baptize a less active, but I know that Eric can feel the Spirit. The ward mission leader said, "don't deny him the privilege of being baptized if he wants it." Please pray for Eric:) I really hope he can be baptized!

     Saturday night was the General Womens' Broadcast! I pretty much bawled my eyes out the entire time. I felt so deeply and sharply how much I love my Mom and my sisters and my niece. I feel blessed to be in a family of girls! When we sang "I am a Child of God," I felt His love so strongly. He really loves His precious daughters. I loved what Pres. Eyring said about having female role models. I am blessed to have a great Mommy and wonderful Grandmas. 

     I want to share something President Wilson taught. When he was a Bishop, he said the Church Handbook said that "Sisters should not be unduly encouraged to serve missions." He took out the double negative and decided that "Sisters should be duly encouraged to serve missions." He said about 90% of the girls in his ward served missions. This past week, I hit my SIX MONTH mark. I am in awe that my mission is 1/3rd over. I can't believe how fast the time went by! In addition, I can see now how much I've changed in that time. My conversion has deepened and my capacity to love and serve has grown. I will never regret choosing to serve a mission. I want to duly encourage every Sister I know to serve a mission! Before leaving on my mission, I was reminded that marriage is a higher calling than a mission. TRUTH. It is. I fully intend on being married someday. BUT, I wanted to serve. And, if you have desires to serve God, you are called to the work!

     I love you all so much and I hope you have a great Conference weekend! Don't forget to send me your favorite talks!:)

Love, Hermana Sarah Crandall

*P.S. La Familia Moreno! They were baptized about 4 years ago and they are still on fire! Hermano Moreno doesn't have a calling, but he attends ward correlation, all the youth activities, etc. Hermana Moreno cooks for us every tuesday (YUM MEXICAN) and goes out with us to at least 2 lessons a week! Their two boys are Pablo and Santiago (Paul and James).

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fun Times in Fredericksburg!

Querida Familia,

     This scripture describes perfectly how I feel about the upcoming season:
Song of Solomon 2:12
I believe that Millie will especially enjoy that one.

     Hermana Agurcia and I have been very busy here in Fredericksburg! Here's a little bit about our investigators:

     Absalon y Natalia - Instead of giving us a weird drink this past week, Natalia made deer tacos! SO RICO. Natalia really wants to baptize her son in the Catholic church. Absalon said she could, but it wouldn't matter because he's going to have his son baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ when he turns 8! Now if we could just get them to read El Libro de Mormon...

     Claudia - Super Pentecostal. Hispanics don't Bible bash the way that Southern Baptists do, but she's the closest. Every lesson starts out that way, but then ends spiritually when Hermana Agurcia and I bear our testimonies. In our most recent lesson, her husband (American) and her daughter sat in. The husband wanted to argue too. He said that the Spirit was constraining him to teach us about the Day of Pentecost. He stressed that the Comforter didn't arrive until 50 days after the Ascension of Jesus Christ... I don't think he realized, but that only confirms the veracity of the visitation of Jesus Christ to the Americas. Oh well. The husband offered the closing prayer, petitioning God to save us and help us find the truth. Claudia mumbled throughout the prayer and then put her hands on our heads. I felt the Spirit leave the room. The feeling was so disgusting and I hope to never experience it again! Needless to say, we think that they are not ready for the Gospel at this time.

     Eric - Eric is my favorite muchacho of them all! Hna. Agurcia and I spend a lot of time in the same apartment complex. There is always the same group of muchachos, or young boys, playing outside. This group of friends ranges from 8 to 18 years old. We know most of their names by now and they give us lots of referrals! We once passed out pamphlets to them and invited them to go to church. They agreed, but we weren't sure how serious they were. Hermano Moreno, a member, went to pick them up. All four that we talked to attended! That was about a week ago for Stake Conference. Eric, who is only 8, seems to be the most interested. We've knocked on his door a few times, and his parents say we can come back, but don't seem to care all that much. Eric told me that he wanted to see a movie about Jesus Christ. He doesn't have a strong Christian background, but he's very in tune with the Spirit. 

     We went by the complex yesterday and arrived just in time to see him taking out the trash! That was a miracle in and of itself! We told him we had the movie and he needed to get his friends together and permission from his parents. (A member lives in the complex and we arranged to have the lesson at his home.) Eric and his friend Tony came to watch the movie with us! We watched Testaments. We thought they would enjoy the action, it shows a lot about the Savior's life, and it talks about the Book of Mormon. I felt the Spirit SO STRONG! Eric had lots of questions. We bore testimony that our Savior died for him, and now lives for him. We were all crying a lot, including Eric. We invited him to be baptized and he said he wants to! I had the strongest impression that I was sitting next to one of the noble and great spirits of God. Eric is one of the elect! When we walked him home, we talked about missionary life and told him that one day he could be a missionary too! I feel so honored to have met this muchacho!

     We're teaching A LOT.

     Anyway, here are some thoughts about Virtue. I hope you've enjoyed studying this attribute of Christ as much as I have!

-The most virtuous thought you could have is "I am a child of God."
-PMG - "A pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards...prerequisite to receiving the Spirit's guidance."
-Integrity - being true to who you know you are. 
-"Pray for strength to resist temptation and do what is right."
-Memorize a good hymn or scripture
-The virtuous will receive inheritance in Zion! D&C 25:2
-Virtue = holiness
-D&C 121 - virtue will give me confidence and make me a better leader (doctrine of the priesthood.)
-Seek after Virtue! (AoF13)
-2 Peter 1 - I have been called to glory and virtue!
-Virtue builds on faith
-Lehi's dream and Nephi's vision -- what is it that I most desire?
-People of Ammon - bury all temptations so I can stay "bright!"

     Now dearest family, this is what I need from you...the past few weeks have been pretty stressful and difficult. Hermana Agurcia and I did NOT receive a call for transfers, which means I'll be here for the next six weeks! (Phew!) I've been thinking a lot about what you could do to help me. I love getting mail, but the happiness I get from it isn't very lasting. This is what I came up with:

     In order to help all of us prepare for General Conference, I want you (each of you!) to print out your all time favorite General Conference talk! Read it again and mark it up. Write notes about what you like, what you learned, your testimony, etc. THEN, mail it to me so I can enjoy it too! This shouldn't take more than 15-30 minutes of your time. It would mean the world to me :) We can both enjoy your favorite talk! If you send me yours, I promise to send you mine!

     I feel so privileged to be where I am doing what I'm doing. I'm preaching the Gospel to the descendants of the Lamanites! How cool is that?:) I love and miss you all so much and I am incredibly grateful for the support that I've received so far.

I hope you have a great week! Happy reading:)  Love, Hermana Crandall

*PS Here's my address again in case you missed it:)

1002 Jefferson Davis Highway #222
Fredericksburg, VA 22401

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Una Sorpresa de eStafford!

*Sorry there was snow yesterday and all the libraries were closed!

Querida Familia,

     Surprise! Guess who's back in Stafford?  (PS Hispanics say "eStafford" because they can't say S with a consonant after it without an E at the front... eStafford, eSpotsylvania, Espanol, Espalda, etc.)

     On Monday after emailing, my companions and I met up with some other sisters at Olive Garden for lunch for Sister Brady's birthday (she's in the Chickahominy Ward). About an hour after, we were just window shopping when we received a call from President Wilson. He asked me to step outside the store for some privacy. He asked, "are you willing to go where the Lord needs you?" I answered yes. He then told me that I was going to be emergency transferred to the Stafford Spanish Rama (Branch). I asked why--not because I didn't want to or I needed a reason, but because I hoped it wasn't because we were having companionship struggles. It ends up that another Hermana went home early for medical reasons.

     The following morning, Brother and Sister Chuntz, a senior couple, picked me up to take me to my new area! I'm serving in the Stafford Rama, but my area covers Fredericksburg (yes, THE Fredericksburg!) and parts of Spotsylvania County. After Christmas, a lot of Hermanas went home. A couple of Spanish areas, including Fredericksburg, were closed. It was opened back up again right after Valentine's day. If I hadn't been switched to Spanish at the time that I was, it would have been closed again.

     My new companion is Hermana Agurcia (ahh-GUR-see-uhh). She's also a Temple Square Sister! She's from San Pedro Sula Honduras and has been out for about 7 months. She's a really hard worker, speaks perfect Spanish and English, and a great cook!

     The apartment is awesome. Look up my address on Googlemap. We basically live on Mary Washington University campus. We have beautiful French doors and a balcony. It faces a huge student housing complex that looks a lot like New Heritage. Sometimes in the mornings, we go running on campus. If you Google Mary Washington, you'll see that it has a huge bridge that crosses Jefferson Davis Hwy. We run across that:)
     Amidst all of this excitement, I am SO EXHAUSTED. In the past month I moved, was switched to Spanish, had a difficult companion, had two companions, and then I was moved again. All of this new is really stressing me out. Transfer calls are on Saturday and I REALLY hope that I can stay in Fredericksburg for the next six weeks. I saw Sister Olsen at District Meeting (she's my Sister Training Leader now!!) and we chatted for a bit. She said that she and her companion sent recommendations to President Wilson about who should be transferred, and they recommended to him that I stay in Fredericksburg. Ojala:)

     Anyway, a lot has happened since I arrived. I loved Mechanicsville, but it was a very difficult area for learning Spanish. I'm so grateful for all the help I received from Hna. Depablos! Hna. Agurcia has also been really helpful. We made a rule that between the hours of 9 and 9, we speak only in Spanish. It's difficult, and I don't talk near as much as I normally do, but it's helped me realize how much Spanish I DO know. I'm really good at formulating sentences and I'm slowly picking up more vocabulary! I finally feel like I'm at the point where I have enough Spanish to function. Now I can start studying more grammar concepts. 

     In Spanish Branches, they really do feed you SO MUCH FOOD. We showed up for dinner at one woman's home, and I couldn't believe how big my bowl of soup was. It looked like she had put the serving bowl in front of me. And then the Hispanics smile and say things like "sientense, COMA." And then you say things back like, "estoy llena, pero es muy rico!" And then they say "COMA MAS." And then you eat more. At this particular woman's home, she had a friend over...who is a Testigo de Jehova (or JW). After dinner, Hermana Agurcia styled the member's hair, to which the amiga said, "en casa de herrero, cochillo de palo." I didn't understand it when she said it, but Hna. Agurcia explained it to me in the car. The amiga said, "in the house of a blacksmith, knife of wood." This basically means: you help everyone but yourself. She also told Hna. Agurcia that she should begin with my hair. Yes, this Testigo insulted our hair :( I was depressed for weeks.

     Another funny dinner story. We were eating at a recently returning member's home who is single. She made me eat too much. In the car, I told Hna. Agurcia that my stomach hurt. She said that hers did too, and asked me how much of the grape juice I had. I don't even like grape juice, but the member poured me a glass. After I finished, she poured me a second glass. I finished both. Hna. Agurcia then explained that she checked the juice and it expired on September 27, 2000. I've never wanted so badly to throw up in my whole entire life. And it's not even like the member reused the same bottle--Hna. Agurcia said she broke the seal when she opened the bottle. When do fermented grapes become wine?

     Our next appointment was with Absalon and Natalia. They have this weird tradition where every time we come to visit with them, they make some weird juice thing for us to drink. Hna. Agurcia said that at the last appointment, the other Hna. wasn't feeling too well, and she didn't finish it. Absalon made fun of her and Natalia was offended. I was in so much pain, but I downed that entire drink thing.

     Hermana Agurcia is almost as bad as the members;) She's always cooking! She wants to make me lunch every day. She insists on dishing the food onto my plate too. I don't think she realizes how Hispanic she is;) In the mornings, she always makes some homemade drink for me. Once it was honey and lemon, yesterday it was cinnamon tea, and today she made a drink from raw oats. I don't know how she does it, but they're always super yummy. I've given into the fact that I'm going to gain weight on my mission. I'm trying to control my portions as much as possible, but I also need to understand that food is how Hispanics communicate love.

     As for the work in this area, we are finding A TON of new investigators. Because the other Hermana was sick, they only had a few, and most hadn't been seen since before Christmas. Almost every Hispanic will invite us in or to come back later, so it's hard to tell who will actually progress in the Gospel. It looks as if we're going to have a lot of first lessons. Absalon and Natalia are probably most progressing. We were talking about the Book of Mormon, and out of nowhere, Absalon started asking questions about the Plan of Salvation--explaining that he believed that there must be some sort of waiting place between death and resurrection. He's so prepared:)

     Anyway, I'm about to be kicked off early:/ The library is busy in the afternoons. I love you all so much and I'm so grateful for your prayers! I've been considerably stressed because all of the changes, but I know that God wouldn't give me a commandment (or a language change assignment) without preparing a way for me to accomplish it! Please send me mail because support at this time would be awesome:)

Love you!  Hermana Crandall

*PS- one picture of Hermana Agurcia's first time at Krispy Kremes!
Hermana Sarah Crandall
1002 Jefferson Davis Hwy #222
Fredericksburg, VA 22401

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"Mas Mejor" en Mechanicsville

Querida Familia,
     This past week I have been really stress-sick. I've still been working like normal, but my stomach is upset a lot and I have a hard time eating. I feel better now than I did a week ago, and hopefully I'll keep improving:) I feel like part of this is to help me learn virtue. Virtue is usually seen as moral purity. I think that in addition, it can mean relying on the strength of the Lord. If you've ever read Machiavelli, virtue refers to power or influence. Through this illness, I've learned that I have no power--physical, spiritual, or emotional--of my own. I need to be relying completely and wholly on the strength of our Savior. As I've done this, I've been given strength beyond my own!:)
     We've also begun waking up 30 minutes early to go to the church to exercise. I normally run some laps around the gym and then exercise as normal. This has helped me have more energy throughout the day. I love running! I'm definitely not the marathon-type, but I'm happy with 20 laps:)
     As Dad would say, I've been doing "mo bettah." Unfortunately, I've begun saying the same thing in Spanish. 5 times this past week at least, I've said "mas mejor." It's just as wrong in Spanish as it is in English;)
     The Richmond Stake (which covers the Richmond East and West Zones) is having a finding challenge! Every week for three weeks, each companionship needs to find 3 new investigators. Last week we found 5!
     Oralia was a referral from the Chickahominy Sisters. They tracted into her, and passed her on to us. She is from Guatemala and speaks no English. She isn't very educated, so we just talked about El Libro De Mormon and read a few verses with her. The Spirit was really strong, especially as we sang the opening song. At the end, we invited her to pray. She replied that she didn't know how. I had already said that opening prayer, so Hermana Pratt and Hermana Depablos each took a turn praying. Then Oralia prayed. She said the most simple and humble prayer I have ever heard! I couldn't help but bawl my way through the entire lesson. I felt like Mom when she bears her testimony;)
     Isabel is a woman that Hermana Pratt and her former companion found. It took us a while to get back and set up an appointment with her. We finally taught her last night. She's from Mexico, but moved to the states when she was 10 months, so she is more fluent in English than Spanish. She's Catholic. I didn't know this, but she said it's a sin for a Catholic to meet with missionaries from another church or to even attend another church. She seemed really apprehensive at the beginning of the lesson. We sang a hymn and prayed. After that, she slowly began to open up, and eventually told us her whole life story. She comes from a difficult family situation. She even confessed that she doesn't believe the Catholic church is true and she's never been really active. It was neat to see how her demeanor at the beginning of the lesson had changed completely by the time we finished.
     Singing hymns and praying every lesson is so important in inviting the Spirit! When the Spirit is present, the investigator will learn more from Him than from the missionaries.
     On Thursday we had Zone Conference in Henrico! Here are some memorable things I learned:
-"A wonderful thing to learn in life is how to breathe!" - Pres. Wilson (reminds me of something Dad would say.)
-Even as a missionary, I need to be praying for missionary opportunities.
-Inspired questions should help my investigators teach themselves.
-After asking an inspired questions, don't nod my head "yes" while they answer. If I do, they'll think that they've already given a satisfactory answer. If I don't show a sign of approval, they'll continue to answer the question. This is when the Spirit can really teach them!
-"The Holy Ghost can fill an empty mouth, but He can't fill an empty mind!" (This is why language study every day is SUPER important!)
-View personal study as a daily appointment with God--don't be late! If I'm just a few minutes late every day, that will accumulate over 18 months.
     Here's a picture of me at Zone Conference. It's the "thing" to get Elder tags for scriptures. Mine also has a pink sticky note addition to it that says "ucha." In Spanish, they add suffixes to the ends of words. For example, "perro" is dog, and "perrito" is little dog. My nickname is Crandallucha. Ucha is supposed to mean disorganized or crazy or something.
     On Saturday night, we had dinner with the Murrell family. Brother Murrell is the Ward Mission Leader! They had a special needs daughter who passed away last September. She was so beautiful and they had lots of pictures of her around the house! Brother Murrell also has a false left eye. When he was 12, a friend was playing around with a gun and shot him in the eye. He let us hold one of his other fake eyes!:) It was so cool! They have a really large property, and I took some pictures. They had a large uprooted tree trunk, some chickens, etc. They used to have two peacocks, but they ran away. I really love Brother and Sister Murrell!:)

     Hermana Depablos had an investigator named Aamir that she met on Temple Square that lives in Arlington (originally from India). He had a business trip in Richmond, so he wanted to meet up with us for lunch! It was a lot of fun! His 9 year old daughter, Zoya, also came. He's not very religious, but they accepted the invitation to come to church with us on Sunday! They attended the Mechanicsville Ward. I'm guessing a lot of the ward members thought he was Hispanic because he was sitting next to us;) They seemed shocked when he started speaking perfect English with a thick Indian accent. Here's a picture of us with Zoya.

     Yesterday we received permission to begin attending the Henrico Branch when we have investigators that are going to attend. Josue has been taught by missionaries for a few months now, but has only attended church a few times. He knows the Book of Mormon is true, but he's concerned that baptism will bring him new trials. We convinced him to go to church with us on Sunday and he did! We all got a ride together with Filiberto, a recent convert. This brings me to my next story...
*I've begun keeping a list of weird things that happen to me:
     When Filiberto picked us up for church, he had food in the trunk for us. Mexican mango soda, fruit cups, and granola bars. He insisted that we eat them. He also had a U2 CD playing and he said he loves rock-n-roll more than Mexican music. We had to ask him to turn it off;) hahaha.
     We were teaching a lesson to Josue and his front door was open. A squirrel ran by, and we were worried it was going to come inside. He said that he leaves his door open and squirrels come in all the time. And he's totally okay with it.....
In the Mechanicsville Ward yesterday, someone quoted Robert E. Lee during Sacrament Meeting. Only in the South.
     A Hispanic man invited us into his bedroom to teach the lesson. Needless to say, we made up an excuse and got out as fast as possible.
     A woman started feeding her baby in the middle of the lesson. Oh Hispanics.
That's all for this week:)  I love you all so much!:)
Hermana Crandalluchita

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"Be Still" in Mechanicsville

Querida Familia,
     Lo siento it snowing yesterday and we weren't able to leave the about most boring P-day ever! We were originally planning on going shopping to buy some summery clothes. Guess it's not time yet;)
     FELICIDADES to my little sister, Amelia, on her acceptance to BYU! She will be the cutest student the campus has ever seen!
     This past week has been pretty difficult, to say the least. I'm grateful for all the learning experiences that I'm having and I hope that soon enough I'll learn all that God has intended. As in, REALLY SOON;) In the mean time, I'm doing my best to "be still." We're having some companionship challenges and I'll leave it at that.
     From Wednesday night to Thursday night, Hermana Depablos and I went on an exchange with Hermana Carn to Chesterfield, which is South of Richmond. In the space of 24 hours, we taught 5 or 6 lessons! Milagros really do happen with the Sister Training Leaders:) We were so busy, that we didn't have time for lunch. But we did stop for 10 minutes to get ice cream at a Mexican ice cream shop:) Chesterfield is kind of like Little Mexico in Virginia. Hermana Carn finishes her mission in less than a month. She is super pulled together, speaks great Spanish, and truly loves her investigators. She is a perfect example of the kind of Hermana I'm working to become!
     On Friday we had Zone Meeting. One of the Sisters gave a training on hard work. She talked about how hard work is what helps us to be happy on our missions. She made a really profound comment: If there was any other way to be happy, then that's what she would be teaching. Hard work is the only thing that helps us deal with homesickness, sadness, stress, investigators incorrectly using their agency, etc. It was all very inspiring!
     Hermana Depablos has helped me apply these principles! She is very goal oriented! If you thought I was a goal oriented person, you would be blown away by her. I've become much better at setting small goals every night. For example, last night I set the goal to exercise well in the morning to feel better during the day. I focused on my exercise this morning, and now I feel like I have so much energy! It was something really small, but it has made a huge difference.
     Also, at Zone Meeting, I was asked to conduct the music. I requested that we sing #307 for the opening song. Hispanics LOVE that hymn. I suggest looking it up if you ever get the chance;)
     For the month of March, I'm studying the Christlike attribute of virtue! I've decided to read the entire Book of Mormon this month and mark it up according to that attribute. One thing that stood out to me in 1 Nephi is the word "desire." Lehi found the fruit of the tree of life to be "desirous" so he "desired" that his family would partake of it too. When the angel visited Nephi, he asked him what he most "desired," and Nephi responded that he "desired" to experience what his father had. One important aspect of virtue is keeping our desires in check.
     Sorry this is a shorter email, but I love all of you so much! Thank you for your emails, letters, prayers, and constant support! I wouldn't be able to do this without you and without the grace of our loving Heavenly Father:)
Love,  Hermana Crandall
*PS - The Zone Leaders left a nice message on our windshield this morning