Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fish Heads (and other food related stories) in Harrisonburg!

Waynesboro Zone Conference Meal 1/20/15
Querida Familia,

     Hi, lots has been going on.

     Lunes was absolutely crazy trying to get the apartment all fixed up for the senior couple! We bought them some groceries and home-like-things and washed all of the dishes. We ended up having to go back on Wednesday to finish up cleaning and putting away the dishes. They came in Thursday night and we got to meet them on Sunday! They are named Elder and Sister Edstrom and are from Rexburg. This is their second mission (first was in Nauvoo). Having them here is kind of like having grandparents on the mission :) They're taking my companion and me out for dinner next week!

     On Tuesday we had Zone Conference in Charlottesville, which is about an hour or so drive away. (My Zone is Waynesboro West and we were combined with the Waynesboro East Zone.) To get there we took the 33 through the mountains which passes through Shenandoah National Park:) It's really beautiful and I hope to see it someday in the Spring or Summer!

     I got to speak in Zone Conference about gratitude. I talked about how gratitude, like a pair of glasses, determines the way that we see the world. Heavenly Father has perfect vision because He's all knowing, so we have to rely on Him to better understand His plan. I also read some scriptures in D&C 78 and 88 about how we need to receive all things with thankfulness. If we don't receive what God has to give us, then He can't force us to take it. If we don't learn to receive all things with thankfulness in this life (including trials/ learning opportunities) then we won't be willing to receive Celestial Glory in the life to come.

     President Uchtdorf said that gratitude is the catalyst to all Christlike attributes. I was studying how they relate and this is what I came up with:

-GRATITUDE without works is dead.

-Let GRATITUDE garnish thy thoughts unceasingly. 

-And GRATITUDE suffereth long and is kind and envieth not.

-Pretty much you can replace the word "gratitude" with any Christlike attribute in the scriptures. Pretty cool, right?:) 

     Anyway, it was a really nice Conference and I learned a ton! Sister Wilson talked about how we can start preparing ourselves for iPad and social media use. I really don't think we'll get either of those things before I finish my mission. At the beginning of my mission, I was told that we'd have iPads by the end of 2014. It hasn't happened yet and I don't think it would be worth it to buy an iPad now. But, I've learned a lot about using my time wisely and using social media intentionally to share the Gospel, not just to "surf."

     So I just want to share the love that I've gained for the Iraqi people. There is a HUGE Iraqi population here in Harrisonburg. Almost every time that we knock an Iraqi door, they let us in and give us something to drink. (Usually Sunny D...I don't know why.) We met one family that came to the States because the father was a reporter in Iraq and was helping US reporters obtain information. The US Government helped him come to the States to protect his life. We also knocked into a Catholic family from Iraq that moved because of persecution. The English Sisters are now teaching them:) Did you know that the Book of Mormon is available in Arabic online?? Another Iraqi family also gave us some delicious Middle Eastern bread which looks like a giant, fat tortilla. Yum:)

     Also...I want to share my love for tracting. We did a 24 hour exchange with the other Hermanas and also "blitzed" their area with the Spanish Elders. Hermana Stice and I got into the very first door we knocked! Another woman also fed us pupusas, which was nice. I really got fed a lot this week! Which was nice since we don't really get regular member dinners. Then Hermana McRae and I also did power exchanges with the Broadway and YSA Sisters to knock in their areas. YSA work seems pretty tough. We knocked in a student complex and all of them said they were busy studying or doing homework. Seriously??? I've been a student and I know how it is;) I loved excuses to be distracted;) However we did meet one really neat girl who's working towards her Ed Specialist degree like Mommy. Her bff is a member and served a mission. He's studying at BYU right now. She was willing to set up an appointment and let us in for a few minutes! 

And speaking of getting fed a lot, a Cuban Sister offered to feed us on Thursday! And so of course Maria (the recent convert) surprise fed us that day too and we got two dinners. In Harrisonburg, when it rains it pours;) at least when it comes to food. And on Friday Hermana Cerritos (another recent convert) called and said she needed help.......eating pinon and donuts. So we went and read and ate with her:) Pinon is this delicious flour de maiz drink. It's like horchata except warm and with corn flour instead of rice flour.

     Ana's still doing really well, but just won't accept a date!! She's come to church with her son Fabian four times and likes it. She's read a ton of the Book of Mormon and she's made friends with some of the members. This past week, we brought a baptismal calendar to her house. It's like a countdown calendar to help investigators prepare for baptism. We put all of the lessons we still need to teach on there as well as reminders to read, pray, and come to church. We put her baptism on February 7th. She said she still won't agree to it, but she'll start preparing for it. At first she absolutely would not commit to living the Word of Wisdom! But when we went by this past week, she said that she's been off coffee for a few days. Fabian gave it up completely! We're trying to help her see that keeping the commandments is evidence of her faith in the restauracion.

     Also Fabian is the cutest kid in the whole world. I can't remember what we were talking about, but we mentioned the second coming and his face lit up. And he asked us, "Jesus is going to come again???" He got SO EXCITED! It was the cutest thing ever:)

     Anyway, if you look at the pictures I sent (of the fish head ordeal) you can see the baptismal calendar in the background on her fridge. It's the blue one with a picture of John baptizing Jesus.

     Saturday night, we stopped by just to remind Ana about church and to see if she needed a ride. (It's super important to make daily contact with investigators!!!) Her husband let us in and she was in the kitchen gutting fish like Hapa and Grandpa Crandall used to do. It was pretty disgusting. She was all like..."are you sure you can't stay? Please! Sit down! Here's some pinon!" And you all know that I like pinon. (I'm not even sure if that's how you spell it?) So she gave us some pinon and we watched her gut fish. 

     And then things really escalated from there. Because then she put some muffins in front of us so we ate those. And then she was making tortillas and she brought us each a plate of tortillas with queso, seco y crema. And then, the next thing you know, she's bringing us a plate of fried fish that we just watched her gut. She gave Hermana McRae the head, but I of course had to try it;) And of course, a lemon. And if that wasn't enough, she also got us each a glass of apple juice:) hahaha. I love Ana so much:) And this whole time, we're just chilling in her kitchen listening to Spanish love songs. In Honduras, and much of central america, they eat their food with their fingers. It was a lot of fun! And yes, she came to church the next day! (And we left her home stuffed.)

     As for the rest of our investigators...we're looking to drop a lot more people this week. We didn't do a lot of finding in our own area because we spent a lot of time tracting in everyone else's area. So hopefully this week between MLC and Zone Mtg we'll be able to find some new people:) I would rather have a small, but progressing, pool of investigators than a pool of 20 investigators that we see once a week.

     La Familia Rivera is kind of promising. Except mom and dad are both married but separated from people in other countries. That kind of makes things hard. Their son Victor seems great, and he's 14 and willing to read and learn. We're also teaching a cute family with 4 boys and the mom committed to come to church next week!

     Okay well I think you've heard enough from me for today. I love you all a lot:)

     Birthday shout out to Lindsay and Amelia:) Lindsay turned one year older last week (sorry I can't remember how old you are...it must be too high to count??;) and Millie will be 19 this week!! Which is just blowing my mind. I love you both so much! And happy birthday to Sally the Cowgirl for all you people who know who that is.

Con amor, Hermanita Crandall

Zone "Oompa" Team!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Hermanananas in Harrisonburg

Querida Familia,

     I want to begin by responding to a question that Hapa sent me--what are my responsibilities as an Hermana Training Leader and what kind of problems we run in to.

     Every transfer we do a regular 24 hour exchange with each set of Sisters. There are three other sets of Sisters here-- Sisters in Broadway, YSA Sisters in Harrisonburg (for James Madison University), and another set of Hermanas in our Branch. (The Sisters area in Waynesboro was closed because the mission is seeing a decrease in Sisters...over the next transfer or two, many more areas for Sisters will be closed.) We also try to do a "power exchange," where we spend a few hours tracting in their area with them and discussing key indicators.

     We have Mission Leadership Council (MLC) at the end of every month, normally on a Wednesday (and in Richmond). The following Friday we have Zone Meeting, where the Zone Leaders and the Sister Training Leaders each give a training. 

     We also have Zone Conference (which is two or more zones combined) every other transfer. (During the opposite transfer we have an interview with President Wilson.) President will pick from among the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders to give trainings. I was asked to speak at Zone Conference in Charlottesville tomorrow. It's also my last Zone Conference in the mission :(

     We have Zone P-Day once a transfer, and we plan the activity with the Zone Leaders. We also have a Sisters' P-Day that we plan once a transfer. We had Zone P-Day last week and it was a lot of fun! We played on-the-altar, some minute-to-win-it games, and OOMPA. Oompa is the greatest sport ever invented. It's like ultimate frisbee played with a football and you have to get the football into the basketball hoop. As missionaries we're not allowed to play full court basketball, so I think someone created oompa to get around the rules a little. Last week my team went undefeated :) It's more fun when the Elders actually pass the ball to the Sisters. In my last zone, they didn't really let us play. This zone is a lot better! 

     Every Thursday and Sunday night (9:45 pm) we have a conference call with President Wilson and all of the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders. On Thursdays, the Zone Leaders report mid-week numbers for the zone as well as who's on date to be baptized the upcoming weekend. Then President selects someone to pray for all of the names. On Sunday the end-of-week numbers/key indicators are reported and then President Wilson talks about anything going on in the upcoming week. We normally just put the phone on mute and chill in our room during the call :) 

     I'll be very brief about the difficulties I've seen in other missionaries throughout my mission: Finding excuses to sleep in, stay in the apartment, or be disobedient.

     So I guess what I want Millie to understand is...WORK HARD. The time on the mission is not your own. Be exactly obedient. Get up every single morning no matter what you feel like! Your back will hurt and probably your feet and your neck and you'll get a lot of headaches. But get up anyway!  LEAVE THE APARTMENT. That's always the hardest thing every day, but once you get out, the Spirit will help you. Make sure to do all of your studies every morning, but then get out the door and be effective. Don't plan just to fill time. When you're in a lesson, make sure you're there for a selfless reason, and not a selfish reason. It would be really easy to spend all day visiting members and less-actives, but that won't help you fulfill your purpose. If your investigator isn't progressing or doesn't want to be baptized, drop them. It seems hard at first because visiting them will add another lesson to your key indicators, or it will fill the time. However, there are other people out there who are already prepared! I remember a mission prep teacher saying to my class that trying to justify ourselves will lead us to hell. Millie, don't sleep through your mission. Missions are physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually demanding. But if you do your very best, God will bless you immensely. I can't describe how blessed I feel to have been given the opportunity to serve a mission. My life is so different than what it would have been. Just serve hard and really ENJOY your mission:) I'm so exhausted that I could take a 5 hour nap and I am just loving life:) I really understand what Elder Moreno was saying in that one episode of the District 2. I am worn out beyond belief and I am the happiest I have ever been:) You are going to be an excellent missionary.

     Well I don't have a ton of time left, but we had a pretty nice week of dropping and finding. We had transfers on Tuesday and two new Sisters came in! Both of them, as well as their companions, are going home at the end of this transfer. So that means 4 Sisters will be out in 5 weeks! Both of our Hermanas stayed. Elder Steiner (District Leader) is training again (Elder VanMaren) which is fun because there's always something great about new missionaries:)

     Elder Steiner took our car down to Richmond to trade it for a new one, so we got to use their car for a day....which is a Jeep!!! Hermana McRae and I had a ball driving that Jeep. It originally belonged to the Elders in Franklin, WV, and they do more driving on back roads. The Elders left their music behind too so we felt awesome driving to Tarzan in a Jeep. It made me miss my Blazer.

     We get an hour every week to update our mormon.org profiles/ do family history. They have this new app where you can look at all of your pioneer ancestors. I tried it and it came up with 37 names! So I've been reading lots of their stories and really enjoying that:)

*We got a new Chevy Cruze...2016. It is SO NICE!!!!!!

     Ana's doing okay except she doesn't want to live the Palabra de Sabiduria because she likes her coffee. We took hot chocolate by her house the next day and then she showed us all of her family pictures from back home in Honduras:) I really hope I get the opportunity to travel to Central America some day! She and her husband got married, had Fabian, and then Nino came to the States. They were separated for over 8 years! Then he was finally able to bring them over last spring and now they're together again. She showed us all the love letters they used to write because there wasn't a telephone line in her pueblo for many years. It was really sweet:)

     Well I love you all lots. Things are going really great here! This week we have Zone Conference, a few exchanges, and then MLC and Zone Meeting the following week. Time just flies. 

Con amor,  Hermanita Crandall

*PS - Today my companion and I get to set up a new apartment for a new senior couple that should be arriving today or tomorrow! I guess that's another one of our responsibilities:) The mission office gave us some money to buy food and housing supplies. We're really excited to help our new "grandparents" feel at home! :)

*PPS - I love you Mom and I will try to be better about taking more pictures.

Monday, January 12, 2015

air ee sen boorg

Querida Familia,

     Sorry me di cuenta that I sent two emails with almost the same title "burg de harrison." It's just hard to come up with creative names every week. So today's title is how people say "Harrisonburg" in Spanish. Anyway...

*We had a good week in the valley :)

     After emailing last P-day I tried to donate blood again. The first time I ever tried, they told me I was underweight. The second time, they told me my blood pressure was too low. And this time, they said that the needle is thicker than my veins. She said that if I ever want to donate blood, I have to eat like it's Thanksgiving 3 days in a  row and drink like 5 or 6 water bottles the morning of. I was a little disappointed because I've always wanted to donate blood but I'll probably never be able to. I don't know why it made me sad but it kind of did, haha;)

     Anyway...on Monday night there were some happenstances so we ended up doing a two-night exchange with some other Sisters in the Zone. I stayed in Harrisonburg! We did a lot of finding and found a new apartment complex to knock in! It's mostly American, but there are some Hispanic pockets hiding within.

     Later I went back with Hermana McRae and it was SO COLD! And here, the cold is different than the cold in Utah. The cold here just penetrates you to your bones. It was only about 28 degrees, but my feet were so cold (even with boots) that it hurt to walk. It was about 4:50and I was thinking we should head home for dinner because I was freezing and wanted to put another pair of tights on. (I normally wear sweater tights with thermals on top and 2 pairs of socks.) BUT I have a really great companion who said we should finish the stairwell. On the very last door, a Puerto Rican woman named Vanessa opened the door, invited us in, and fed us soup!!! She's a former investigator and really likes the church's focus on family. Her husband isn't very religious but she's hoping we can help him. It was a huge miracle and I'm so grateful we knocked a few more doors! We got fed, we got warm, and we got a new investigators!:)

     We also went to follow up on a potential last night. He wasn't home, but his mom Rosa let us in. She shared with us lots of crazy stories about her life in Puerto Rico and how she was a single mom to 9 kids. She also got shot three times and lived! She liked the restoration a lot. We invited her to be baptized on February 7th and she said "Maybe. I'll call you and let you know." Hahaha:) But we're actually going to go beWednesday so we'll ask her then.

*So I'm feeling pretty hopeful about this new apartment complex.

     We taught the Nieves family twice this week and they still won't come to church! They commit to it and everything, but never show up! We talked about temples and the Plan of Salvation and they really liked it. They said that they want to go to the temple together! They just need to come to church so they can get baptized so they can go to the temple in a year...

     Ana is doing really really well. She and Fabian came to church again. We have Sacrament Mtg, then RS/EQ, and end with Sunday School. We moved the Sunday School class to a different room, so Fabian got a little lost in the church trying to find his mom after Primary. She then explained to him that from here on out, he needs to come to this new classroom to find her. So that pretty much implies that she's planning on attending church regularly in the near future:) Ana's now come 3 times which means she could get baptized as soon as we finish the lessons. She still won't set a date, but we've been praying for the 24th.

     We're teaching a lot of Puerto Riquenos. We're teaching these two sisters and they are crazy and have lots of crazy parties. We felt like they weren't taking us seriously and didn't have a lot of respect for our message. They let us in, loved us a lot, but it was a very difficult environment to teach. We brought Hermano Larsen with us, from the Branch Presidency. He's a professor at James Madison University (located here in the Burg) and he's a lay-down-the-law kind of guy. We brought him with us and the lesson was SO much better! Every time he spoke, they listened. It was a really great lesson too and we were able to answer some of their questions. One hard thing with investigators is making sure that they know that they're investigating!! "How to Begin Teaching" from Chapter 10 in PMG is key in making sure that they understand the purpose of our visits and what we expect them to do between our visits.

     We also did three "power exchanges" with our Sisters this week. We met with each companionship, talked about their key indicators/goals for their area, and then went tracting. I LOVED going tracting with the Hermanas because they took us to the neatest trailer park I've ever seen. I dare say that this trailer park is even better than Foxwood Trailers in Stafford. It was like a middle-of-nowhere, country bumpkin trailer park that was all Hispanic. We chatted with one guy from Mexico on his front porch for 20 minutes and he basically told us his entire life story about being Orthodox Christian, wanting to be a monk, getting married instead, coming to the states, and now working in a bakery. The people here are so cool:)

     I'm not sure if you remember this or not...but our Branch made Christmas baskets to pass out to their non-member friends. The past week or two we've been working to receive and contact all of the member referrals. (The Branch as a whole passed out about 120 baskets!) We received one referral from Hermano Chavez for his work friend Victor. We went by last night and he let us in. He lives there with his wife, son, and cousin. His sister and nephew, who are neighbors, were also there. The cousin wasn't very involved in the lesson, but we counted the other 5 as new investigators! They loved the message of the restoration, went on and on about how great we are, and committed to pray and read! I was just so filled with joy that I burst into tears when we left their apartment. This is why I love missionary work:) We've had a few hard weeks with trying to find new investigators between exchanges, meetings, and holidays. We were finally blessed with 5 new (and Rosa, 6!) in one night!! I love love love my mission so much:) We called Hermano Chavez after the lesson to let him know and he was really excited too! The Christmas baskets have been really successful in finding new investigators and helping the Branch members get excited about missionary work.

     So things are going really well here in the valley:) Two of our Sisters are going home! Including Sister Robertson, who's mom lives in Lindsay's ward! She said she's going to hold Claire before I get to :P But it's okay. Then we have two Sisters being transferred, including Sister Lampinen, our T-Square Sister from Finland who is also my roommate:( But asi es la vida de una misionera! Hermana McRae and I are both staying and I think I'll be here til the end. I love Harrisonburg, I love my calling, I love Spanish, I love all of you.

Love, Hermanita Crandall

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Burg de Harrison :)

Querida Familia,

     I'm really sorry but writing home isn't my favorite thing to do. It's nice to read your emails every week and all, but........I don't love emailing back, haha;)  But for Mom's sake, this is what happened:

     The Branch home teaching statistics are at about 8%. So we got together with all of the missionaries and the Elders' Quorum President for an hour or so to make new assignments. The new assignments were passed out on Sunday and then Presidente Lagos made a promise that if the Branch works toward 100% home teaching, church attendance will double! I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before or not, but our Branch is REALLY SMALL. We get about 20-30 people to church each week, and apparently last year it was closer to 10-15. The Branch is getting really excited about missionary work!:)

     We live really far from Richmond, about a 2+ hour drive. We had MLC (Missionary Leadership Council for Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders) on Wednesday in Richmond and we decided to drive ourselves because we've received member complaints about us asking for rides too much... So I got to drive us down, which I really enjoyed! Shenandoah is so beautiful, and probably even better in the springtime! 

     In MLC, President Wilson and the AP's give trainings. Then we meet together with the Zone Leaders from our Zone (Waynesboro West) to discuss what we want to share in Zone Meeting. Then we have until Friday to prepare a training (based on what President and the AP's said) for Zone Meeting! We also played lightning (basketball) during lunch and I stayed in for a few rounds! That was a lot of fun:) 

     I was able to give a training on setting goals for the new year. I shared some of the things I learned last year when Elder and Sister Ritchie of the DC South Mission visited the Fredericksburg Stake. I talked about making personal constitutions and using "I am" statements. My personal constitution starts with my vision: "I am Celestial material!" I picked this because I love my family! I have the best parents and sisters ever. I know for sure that all of you are going to make it to the Celestial Kingdom. So my greatest goal in life is to be "Celestial material" so I can be with all of you there!

     Another training I enjoyed was about spiritual creation. President Wilson talks about this one a lot, haha:) In Moses 3:5 it talks about how our Heavenly Father created all things spiritually before they were naturally created on the earth. We learn more about this in the temple. In the premortal life, we had the opportunity to spiritually created some of the experiences we have here. D&C 130 states that intelligence gained in this life will give us an advantage in the next life. I think that's true from our premortal life too. That's why certain people were preordained to live in specific dispensations. (Like this one!)

     After MLC on Wednesday, we had to stop in Charlottesville to drop off the Rapidan Sisters so we took the back way to get home to Harrisonburg. It was 7:00 and we were starving so we stopped for a quick dinner at Subway to celebrate the new year! We then visited with Hermana Maria, a recent convert and she fed us too. I thought about setting an alarm for 11:59 but decided against it because I was exhausted!

     Oh, and on our drive back, I saw a church sign that said, "Happy New Year! Is it your last?" The signs here just kill me:) I have a list in my journal somewhere of all the funny signs I've seen.

     Zone Meeting was on Friday which I already mentioned, and then on Saturday the Elders had a baptism! His name is Steven--his parents are recently returning and he's 9 or 10. Ana and Fabian came, and Fabian is always telling us about como quiere hacerse Crisitano, or how he wants to make himself a Christian. It's so cute:) I hope Ana accepts a date soon! They came to church on Sunday too. We're having a hard time getting a fellowshipper for Ana and I think that's what's going to make a difference.

     Afterwards we did a quick power exchange with the Sisters in Waynesboro because one of them was really sick. Waynesboro is 40 minutes away. By the end of the week, I was just exhausted!

     On Sunday I didn't feel very well. I guess the state of VA is at a "red level" for the flu. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but LOTS of people here have the flu. I was vaccinated for it, but I haven't been feeling great. That and my back has been hurting a lot. When I woke upSunday, it felt like there someone was gripping my spine in their hand. I felt like I needed to ask Hermano Julian to give me a blessing. He was baptized last May (former Testigo de Jehova!!) and is now in the Branch Presidency. It was his first time giving a blessing, and the first blessing I've received in Spanish. He blessed me that I'd be healed of all illnesses I have. While he said that, it felt like there was something physically leaving my back--as if their was someone gripping my spine but then they let go. He also said that the angel (singular) that is with me will protect me if I happen to fall again or feel sick again. That really hit me. Over the past two years I have felt a really strong connection to one of my ancestors. (Mommy will probably remember who.) That's why I wanted to be endowed in the Manti Temple--because I knew that she had received her endowment there. It was a really sacred experience! And many of the things he said I've heard in other blessings I've received. I know I felt inspired to ask Hermano Julian for the blessing because I knew that he would be very careful to listen to the Spirit!

     Ana and Fabian came to church. Leo didn't :( We're worried he might have been "antied" by his mom. But we'll keep working with him! We're teaching a new woman named Petronila! I'm pretty sure I have an ancestor by this name. We were really busy this week with leadership stuff, so hopefully this upcoming week we can spend more time working in our own area:)

     Right now I've been working through the Doctrine and Covenants. If you'd like to have your mind blown, reread Section 88. I don't know if I like it as much as 76, but it is full of golden nuggets!:)

Anyway, that's all for today! Happy New Year!:)

Love, Hermanita Crandall