Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Week 22: Christmas in Jardines: A Hallmark Movie Special

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo!

Well, talking to you guys was pretty great. [On Christmas Day we were able to Skype with Tess for 40 minutes! She seemed SO happy!] On a scale of 1 to 10, about an 11 :) Using the ol’ Mummy scale :D But really, it was awesome. I felt kind of bad, because after talking to you guys, I realized that I knew pretty much nothing about how everything was at home...it was all me talking the whole time. But I guess I’ll learn better talking technique over the next two calls :D

I actually didn’t really feel very homesick after talking to you guys......sorry :D Like, when I first saw you, I cried, and then saying goodbye I cried, but afterwards, I just felt content. Like, I’ll see you in May! [We get to Skype again in May for Mother’s Day.] It was really nice to talk to you, though. Obviously.

We have a talent show as a zone activity this Wednesday, and I’m going to teach hna Lopez how to do balloon animals and we’ll give them to everyone :)

Everyone eats dinner here for Christmas Eve at 11 or midnight. It’s kind of weird, EVERYONE goes to bed at 2 or 3. I think Daddy would die here at Christmas. [Vance is a very early riser.]

Sunday was REALLY special, because Hno V blessed the sacrament!!!!!!! Hearing him slowly read each word (he had to do it twice) I just felt so happy. This family is the BEST. We sat with them, and when he came back, he said how his heart was pounding the whole time from nerves, but he did great! It was one of the best experiences. The only thing better will be when they’re sealed in the temple :D :D :D :D :D :D

I’m ALMOST done with the Book of Mormon! Only four more chapters! I’m trying to decide if I should bear my testimony now, or wait until I’m done, but I think I’ll just do it now :) Maybe both times....

Anyway. 

I really love the Book of Mormon. One of my favorite things now is making my own cross-references. Sometimes the cross-references are more like good vs. bad, so I write the good scripture in the margin of the bad scripture so that I can see that there’s hope in everything. For example, in Ether 8:17, it talks about the daughter of Jared, how she put in the mind of Akish that he should kill Omer, and then Akish put it in the hearts of all his family. That reminded me of DyC 18, the importance of ONE soul. And really, one soul is so important to God, because that one soul can lead to good, or lead others to bad. It really shows the importance of the example we show to others. And so, even though in this example it’s bad, if we put good things in the hearts of others, they’re going to share it, and the good is going to grow. We really are the change we want to see in the world. And that’s why Ether 12:4 is right, that we really can hope for a better world. If we follow Jesus Christ, we will change the lives of those around us.

I really know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that it shows us, with the Bible, how we should live our lives, and that we can learn from the mistakes of others so that we can avoid them in our own. I love what the Book of Mormon shares about Jesus Christ, and how it so clearly testifies and prophesies of him. Because really, it "talks of Christ, rejoices in Christ, preaches of Christ, and prophesies of Christ, so that we can know to what source we may look for a remission of our sins." (2 Nephi 25:26) And "hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good." (2 Nefi 33:10) I believe that these are my two favorite scriptures in the book of Mormon, because they so clearly show that everything in the Book of Mormon is here so we can learn of Christ, and grow in our faith in him. I love the Book of Mormon!

Keep reading it.

Love you all a lot! See you in May!!!! (I guess? I kind of forgot that not everyone’s going to be there in May.......but see you :D)

Hermana Owens

Our Christmas Tree! We decorated it with notebook paper. :)
This guy goes around with this weird bike contraption and sharpens knives....so I took a picture.
We also encountered a cobbler in the street the other day! He was repairing some boots.
I kind of love it a lot here :D 
Hno A, who made us really ridiculously delicious food. And really loves Christmas :D 
Hna M, who is the one that offered the computer of her brother in law in our moment of crisis :D
[On Christmas Day, when Tess and her companion showed up at the place
they had arranged to go to Skype with us, the family wasn’t there!
In a panic, they just dropped in on a member who introduced them
to her non-member brother-in-law who then lent them his computer
to Skype with us and Hermana Lopez’s family. Then I guess she fed them, too!]

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It's Beginning to Look Somewhat Like Christmas.... :D

Hola!

Mother said that the other day was the coldest day in Brookings for five years......I think that we may have gotten down to 70 degrees last night....maybe? Speaking of temperatures, these hermanas are moving forward in the world....we have air conditioning now! [All the missionaries were given an air conditioner.] We always put it to the lowest, and then I get under my sheet, and Hna Lopez puts on pants, socks, and two blankets, and we’re set :D

[I asked her about the picture of the giant marimba she sent last week.] The marimba is the state instrument of Chiapas, and so they have a giant marimba in Tuxtla, out of patriotism or something :) 

Christmas is pretty fun here. Pretty much every single night there’s a party happening in a different corner of Jardines, and they involve everyone in the street. I keep remembering geography classes with Mr. Schmidt, and I can really see how climate and geography affects culture. Here it’s never cold, so everyone’s always outside, talking and stuff, and so the culture is more open and social. It’s interesting.

[I asked her about the name of the volcano she mentioned last week.] The volcano is just in Mexico, but some members were testing my ability to speak with this name. The volcano really means nothing about what I wrote, I didn’t think you would focus so much on the volcano.... XD

Whenever people ask Hna Lopez if she knows English, she always says "What is your name?" and then laughs. No, she doesn’t know English. She wants to learn in the mission so she can go to BYU.

I showed Hna Lopez the pictures just now, of the house and Daddy shoveling snow, and she was just like, "What? What is THAT?" :D She has never been in snow. Ever. [Hermana Lopez is from Guatemala.]

Hermana N is doing really well, she’s enjoying church a lot, and her mother signed to give her permission to be baptized! We’re PRETTY happy about that. She’ll be baptized in the middle of January, I believe :D Hermana C is still working to have the money to get married, but we hope before the end of the year! We’re teaching this lady, Hermana M, and I love her so much! She’s probably fifty years old, and super feisty, and she just really wants to get to know the gospel. We’re really excited for her :D

I want to set goals for 2017, because I read something in PMG [her missionary training manual] this morning, a quote from Elder Ballard, that says that goals help us to reach our potential, and it was like....wow. I need to set goals. I forgot to write it down, so I guess if you want to see it, it’s in chapter 8 under the title how to set goals. So, I’ve decided that I’m going to try to develop 12 new talents this year. Unfortunately, I’m not very creative, so I only have like three things that I’ve thought of to develop. So I need ideas! Please send me ideas of talents or things that I should do throughout the year so that I can look back on 2017 as a better person! Some ideas I have right now is that I’m going to work on writing in cursive, I’m going to buy a hacky sac and be a master, etc. I also want to get a new recipe for something every week so that I can come home and wow people with my Mexican cooking, eg. chile con carne.... Also, I have other more spiritual and better-person goals :)

Love you all!

Hermana Owens

And see you next week!!!!!!!! [via Skype] AHHHHHH!!!!!!! [AHHHHH!!!!!!]

We went caroling in Soriana, the commercial center in our zone!
It was pretty fun.
We sang this song, "Con mi burrito sabanero voy camino de Belén!"
and it’s my new favorite Christmas song.
[Google Translator: With my savanna burrito I go to Bethlehem. I don’t know if that’s correct!]


Las Hnas de Tuxtla Grijalva!
We ordered pizza.
It’s funny because here you don’t put garlic butter on pizza,
 you put salsa and chili flakes.
I think Seth would really like Mexico.
 Hermana A, this really awesome girl that we met this Thursday!
She’s a reference from some elders and attended church for two months
but just got back to her home here in Jardines!
We’re really excited to teach her!
She´s already talking about serving a mission :D 



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Week 20: Volcan Parangaracutirimicuaro and other stories

[Note: Tess didn't actually go to the volcano mentioned above, she just learned how to say the name! She let me know that in a separate email.]

Hola!

It´s weird thinking that Christmas is less than two weeks away! I don´t know if it´s the lack of winter, or the mission time, but it does NOT feel like Christmas :)

And we are installing air conditioning in our house! Ourselves! They´re putting in air conditioners in all the houses of the mission before it starts getting really hot in January and February. We´re still trying to figure it out, but we will! It´s kind of funny, because the elders told us it was really easy, but then nobody gave us instructions, so we´re figuring it out :) The last couple nights it´s actually been pretty nice, I´ve even had to use my sheet, but in the future it´s going to get a lot hotter.

A new food of the week: jicama, which is like a giant water chestnut in texture and tastes like a really sweet....water chestnut. It was pretty good, but no rambutan :D

Also, I learned how to distinguish "v" and "b" this week, because in Spanish it sounds EXACTLY the same: if you want to spell something with a "v" you say "v chica," or samll v, and then people know that you want v and not b! Just a little fact for you guys.

This week was really awesome, because we went to the temple!!!!! YAY! This Thursday, we had a Christmas activity with multi-zones, and Presidente George. First, we had a talent show, and then each district planned a skit. We did the story of Genesis 24 and I was Rebekah. I just kind of held a pot and smiled, but it was all good :D We then read a bunch of scriptures, and sang hymns of Christmas, which was the actual devotional, and it was really awesome. In his letter to me, Pres George said he was very impressed by my reading! Yeah!

After that, Pres George talked about being self-sufficient, and the parable of the Good Samaritan. I´m sure I've heard this before, but we talked about how the parable is like the plan of salvation, that only Jesus Christ can heal us and carry us to heaven, that we need Him. It was pretty cool.

I also saw Elders Jones, Meyer, and Bauman, which was fun. [They are Elders from her MTC district.] Elder Bauman is a district leader and training someone right now! Wow.

And then we entered the temple! AAAAHHHHHH it was awesome. I just sat there and listened in Spanish and I understood! More or less, but I understood! It was really awesome. Also, the temple here is really similar to the Omaha temple, in size and everything, so it was like coming home :) It was REALLY nice.

There´s a new American sister from California in my zone now! She´s being trained, and I recognize the same look of "What is anyone saying?" that I´m pretty sure I had. :D It´s just kind of funny when they try to explain a word I don´t know with other words I don´t know, so then I just nod and smile.... :) So I helped her out with some words. It was kind of fun.

I was reading in Matthew 6, and in Spanish it says you can´t serve God and riches. Most people here have couches or at least chairs, but the family we baptized had a mattress pad (like for camping) that they would sit on. However, they recently bought stools! Really, I´m learning here the importance of the necessities, and not luxuries.

I love you all! Lots! And I´ll (see? talk?) to you in one email!

Hermana Owens

The giant Marimba of Tuxtla

The temple! And the angel Moroni
Us at the temple!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Week 19: Ilumina el Mundo!!!

Feliz Casi Navidad, Familia!

I have a new companion! Hermana Lopez IS a missionary that came with me from the CCM! [Tess and her new companion were in the Mexico City Missionary Training Center together, but her new companion entered the MTC three weeks after Tess and was only there three weeks because she was a native Spanish speaker. They both flew down to their Mission together!] I’m going to send before and after photos :)

CCM Hna Lopez and Hna Owens 
Jardines [their area] Hna Lopez and Hna Owens
(eating tuna and tostadas and stirring tazcalate with a spatula
because we don´t have anything else long enough) 
She’s really awesome, and we worked really hard this week. I feel like we’re really good at sharing the weight of teacher. As Hna Lopez likes to say, our senior companion is the Spirit :) I’m definitely seeing that each person has their own strengths, and I’m going to have a lot to learn from Hna Lopez :) She’s also 19, so we’re both young’ins (sp?)

Hna González is in San Cristobal now, the "coldest" part of Chiapas. I’m dying to go to San Cristobal, because I really want to know what cold actually means. When she got called there, a bunch of hermanas came to our house with boots, and blankets, and sweaters....and I kind of wonder if it actually gets down to 40....

I really want a thermometer in celsius and fahrenheit, because honestly, all I know is it’s hot :)

I don’t really remember when it happened, but it’s a LOT easier for me now, the language. There’s definitely things I don´t understand, and I still have to ask for people to repeat things a lot, but I feel like I just understand a lot more. Hna Lopez has a joke, because in Spanish your, his, and hers are all the same word, "su." So, she’ll say, "Tiene algo en sus manos," and I’ll think she means "You have something in your hands," and I’ll look down, and then she’ll point at a decorative Santa holding a cookie. So she meant, "(He) has something in (his) hands." Sometimes I really curse Spanish. This is one of those times :D

But really, I feel like the language has really come a long way. I DEFINITELY have a lot to go, but I can actually hold up a conversation. We went to the Christmas devotional, and a lady from another ward drove us home, about 10 minutes, and the whole time I chatted with her four-year-old daughter! Now that I think about it, it’s like having a conversation with Westen and Caulder [her three-year-old nephews], so maybe I shouldn’t be so proud...but oh well. I am :)

I’m so excited for this initiative of the church, to serve and light the world. I encountered a scripture in Matthew 10:42 that says if you give a cup of water to someone in the name of Christ, you’ll have your reward in heaven. I really love that, that we can give something as seemingly insignificant as a glass of water, and there are eternal blessings for it. That our small acts can mirror those grand acts of Christ is really special to me. I know that you’ve seen the video, but for other people that may not, go to mormon.org :)

This was last week, last Monday or something, but I just remembered it now, so I’m going to share it with you. It’s 3 Nephi 18:27, when Jesus is going to leave. He says, "I give you another commandment, then I must go unto my Father, that I may fulfil other commandments which he hath given me." I was feeling pretty concerned/sad/worried about Hna González leaving, because 1) I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, and 2) Hna González is awesome, and I just didn’t want her to leave. But this gave me a lot of comfort, that even though it was probably difficult for Jesus to leave the people of the Americas, he did it because it was the will of God. And in order to fulfil all that we’ve come here to do, as missionaries or as people in general, we have to listen to Him and what He wants. It was pretty cool.

Naomi has permission from her mom to be baptized! We’re looking forward to December 31 as her date! When she went to church last week, the president of the Young Women thought that she was a member visiting from another ward, so.... :)

One more thing: We had a really awesome Saturday, because we were able to go to a park in Jardines with a lady Hna González and I had contacted before, and painted the playground. The elders from our district came, but I forgot to bring my camera, so I’m going to try to ask for pictures from them or something. It was really fun, and I definitely can see the huge blessings of serving.

Love you muchly! I’m excited to talk with you guys! [We get to talk (or Skype) with her on Christmas Day.] I was also thinking of Christmas generally, and I think that next year you should leave the decorations up until I return :D [She should be getting home the end of January 2018. If I calculated correctly, it will be the day before her 21st birthday!]

Sometimes I look down and see my nametag and I just feel this rush of joy. Like, I know that I’m a missionary, but then I see "Hermana Owens" and it’s just like, "WOW. I’m a MISSIONARY." It’s pretty cool :)

This week was awesome! Love you all muchisimo!!!!

Hermana Owens