Monday, April 29, 2013

Week #9 - .... Squirrel!!!

Hello all! I've got a whole slew of things to email about today, so I might as well jump right into it!!

Fun facts of the week:

1) There is a RIDICULOUS amount of squirrels in Tennessee. Those things scamper all over the place, and freak me out when they go all suicidal on me and run in front of our car. And our feet. And dogs. And run backwards. They're strange creatures.

2) I can't remember if I've mentioned this already or not, but there is an unknown group of people in Tennessee who are all from Guarrero Mexico, and who all speak this different language called Mixteco (pronounced Mys-techo). If you want to know more than that, ask Carissa - I'm sure she's already Googling it :) Anyway, it's a struggle sometimes, because we'll actually run into people here in Tennessee who speak only Mixteco - not even Spanish or English as well. You can imagine that fun language barrier, especially since there is literally no overlap between Spanish and Mixteco - it sounds completely different. Makes me wonder where this language came from... Book of Mormon!! (Hm. This is starting to ring a bell. I think I did write about this last week. Hopefully I didn't make the same joke then, as well :)

3) "You might be in Tennessee if" moment of the week - was we went through a trailer park, where Hispanics predominately lived, and 95% of the houses still had their Christmas decorations up, and they were all duct taped to their doors, windows, etc. Sister Smith made some remark about how "stereotypically Tennessean" that is, which made me laugh, since I seem to remember my family's Christmas lights being up for quite a while last year... :)

4) I have recently developed a serious love for pistachios! I never really tried them before I entered the MTC, and then the Barnes Family sent me some yummy spoils (thanks again :), including a bag of pistachios! That's the first time I tried them (well, that I remember at least - I'm sure someone is thinking "wait a minute, you tried them with me once!" Sorry :) and LOVED THEM! So, on that note, if anyone has an unloved bag of pistachios laying around, feel free to send that goodness my way. They'll definitely be appreciated :)

Miracles of the week:

1) Bonnie New was able to come to church! She is an AMAZING convert who hasn't been able to go to church much, because she cares for her sick Mom, her autistic grandson, and Carl (a renter who is slightly mentally handicap). That's a full load for ANYONE, let alone a 70 yr old woman. However, she has an amazing testimony, and dearly misses going to church. So, last week, we talked to her about prayer, and promised her that if she prayed out loud and with faith, God will perform miracles to get her to church. Sure enough, a few days later, she showed up to Sacrament meeting, BEAMING, with news that her daughter's work schedule had been changed, so she could stay home and watch the motley crew. Blessing indeed :) 

2) We were teaching Chris the first lesson, concerning the doctrine of Christ - Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. While we were talking about Baptism, Chris pipes up and asks "Actually, I wanted to ask you about that. Do you guys do that? The baptism thing?" We said yes, and asked why. He said "Well, I just really want to get baptized. I feel like something is missing in my life, and I think this is it. Would I be allowed to do that?" I was fairly blown away, and looked at his Mom Sarah, who is an inactive member of the church, and was probably just starting to realize what she has been holding from her kids for their whole life. She said yes, and we set a date for Chris to get baptized on May 11th - it's going to take a lot of work to get there, but with the Lord, all is possible! 

After that lesson, we had to walk home in the pouring rain, and loved every moment of it. When you have that joy of missionary work, it takes a lot more than rain to put a dent in it :) We were practically skipping the whole way home! 

3) We were teaching a Hispanic family this last week- Joel and Adelina. As we were wrapping up and getting ready to go, Joel mentioned "Oh, we actually have a Mormon movie". We were confused, he jabbered in Spanish for a while, and then finally got out a DVD - it was the Restoration movie of the Prophet Joseph Smith! Turns out, one of their neighbors was looting an abandoned trailer and found this movie among all the junk (which in itself, is a miracle, since there haven't been missionaries in this area for years, and we have no idea how they got it in the first place). He decided he didn't want it, and thought to give it to Joel and Adelina - they said they watched the movie, and loved the story. They want to know more :)  

4) We took Imelda to the Nashville Tribute Band concert this last week, and were talking as we were driving up there. We have been teaching her almost every day for the past week, and have come to LOVE this humble girl. She shyly told us as we were driving up "you know, my sister and I were talking, and we both feel like since you have been coming to our house every day, whenever you are here, I feel like I've known you my whole life. Someone asked me the other day how many sisters I had, and I accidentally said 2 more - it feels like you belong in my life". Then, once we got to the concert, I pulled out my scriptures, and showed her the picture of my family in the front. She stared really intently at my family, and finally asked - "who is that?" Pointing to my younger brother, Eli. I told her it was my brother, who is actually her same age. She asked if he had ever come to visit TN before, and I told her no, and that he was actually all the way back in WA. She shook her head and said "I have seen this boy before. I don't know where, but I know him". I then taught her about the pre-mortal existence, and how we all lived with God before coming to earth, and are all Brothers and Sisters. She nodded her head and said "that is how I know him. I know it." So Eli, I've got someone to re-introduce you to someday :)

Phew. That was quite a list. Sorry for the numbers - for some reason, organizing things into lists like that helps me remember it all, and get it on an email. Anyway, it's been a wonderful week. I LOVE being a missionary! There is so much to life that I never realized or saw before I truly lost myself serving others. 

I'll close with a powerful lesson the spirit taught me this last week. For background, I have been praying, studying and working on trying to become a powerful missionary. On trying to be bold, and say just the right thing to cut to the core of those whom I teach. I have seen wonderful examples of this in the lives of ancient missionaries - Alma, Ammon, etc. - and our modern missionaries as well - Elder Holland, etc. - and in my own family! As I have been striving to become this, and to purify myself enough to become that tool in the Lord's hand, the spirit taught me a lesson. I was reading with Chris in 1 Ne 7, specifically in vs. 17 and 18  - 17 But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me astrength that I may bburst these bands with which I am bound. 18 And it came to pass that when I had said these words, behold, the bands were loosed from off my hands and feet, and I stood before my brethren, and I spake unto them again. 
After I read that, I realized what had happened here - Nephi was stuck in a spot, and prayed in faith for the power of God to burst his bounds. God heard his prayer, and blessed him according to his faith to overcome the situation - but He didn't bless him with what he asked for. He blessed him with power to "loose the bindings". I was struck in this moment, and the Spirit taught me what I really needed to strive for - the power of God is not the power to chasten or rebuke to repentance. The power of God is the power to love, and this love results in a desire to change. Since then, I have reworded my prayers and studies, and found myself already receiving an added measure of power to testify. How grateful I am for a Heavenly Father who teaches us patiently, and helps us progress :) I know He wishes the same for you! Learn from this experience, and pray yourself - perhaps pray to understand deeper something you yourself have been pleading for, and to recognize the blessing that He is giving you - for it is often different than what you ask for. The blessings sent may be different than what was requested, but they always come from Him. Always.

I love you all! Sorry for the lack of pictures - I'll get that going sometime soon!!  

Love, Hna Lake 

P.S. Shout out to ELI! I totally forgot to wish you happy birthday last week - sorry little man :) I hope you had an AWESOME day, and I'm super jealous I didn't get the yummy Thai food and Huckleberry cheesecake :) However, I'm also sure you ate my share (and then some :) Love you!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Week #8 - Flying south for the summer.. or atleast the Spring!

Dear All, 

Hola!! Being in the south for not even one week has convinced me that by the time I come home, I will have the CRAZIEST Spanish speaking accent ya'll ever did saw - bit o' Castellano/Spanish with a sprinkle of southern -watch out world!!  :) 

If you haven't heard about me being reassigned to Nashville Tennessee, you'd better catch up fast, because I have a million things to update on :) For starters, I got to Nashville with a group of four - Hna Ihler (MTC buddy), Elder Lindeman (from my MTC district), and Elder Hill (new found buddy). It was a good flight/stay in the SLC airport, especially because I got to talk to my parents for a good while, and have some Cafe Rio before we boarded. That itself was a huge blessing - as Hna Ilher and I were in line for Rio (we hadn't eaten before we left and were scheduled to land at 6:00 pm). We were hungry!!  A kind man leaned over the wooden divider, and started asking "the mission questions" (what are your names, where are you from, where are you going, what language do you speak, are you afraid of bugs - the works :). We were happy to talk to him, but surprised when we got a question that deviated from "the missionary questions". He asked what we were ordering - a little surprised; we told him, and he told us to not worry about paying, because he would cover it. We were surprised and tried to protest, but gave in once we noticed everyone else in the line looking at us like ungrateful swine for not accepting. So, we said a sincere thank you, and proceeded to eat our Cafe Rio like the starving missionaries that we were. It was a huge blessing, and made me feel encouraged - we've got the support of our God, AND the church members on our side! If that's not invincible, I don't know what is :)  

We finally made it to Nashville and met with our President McKee - amazing man! We were running from the get go, and once President directed us to pick up our luggage, he told us to get to work contacting people. Ten minutes later, Sis Ihler and I were all proud of ourselves because we had mustered up enough courage to talk to an Australian family (so cute), only to be deflated when we realized that Sister McKee had placed 3 Book of Mormons in the time it took us to have one conversation. That woman is amazing :) Proof that the Lord loves willing missionaries, but He especially needs efficient ones! 

We had some training, and I was sent off with my new companion - Hermana Courtney Smith. She's wonderful, and we got to work on our new area. We were sent to open a new area (this is the 2nd transfer it's been open since Sis Smith opened it 6 weeks ago) in Manchester, TN, with the goal of organizing a Spanish branch out here. Phew. It's a challenge, but we've buckled down, and seen miracles already. On our first day here, we sat down and defined what it meant to be "exactly obedient" - we committed to such things as "lights out at exactly 10:30", "ready and gathering materials by 10:55", etc. Once we defined our obedience, we set to work sticking to it, and have been blessed immensely so far! We've already started to see miracles happening in Manchester, and it blows me away :) 

1) Sarah Moore, inactive for 15+ yrs - we visited with her, called her out on the fact that she has a testimony and knows she needs to be living differently, and she finally accepted our commitment to come to church this last week. She stepped foot in the same building that she was afraid of for the past 15 years, and nearly broke down. However, she did it, stayed for all 3 hours, and accepted our invitation to re-teach her and her children the discussions :)

2) We stumbled upon Imelda, 14 yrs old and the third oldest in a family of 9 children. We gave her a B of M, returned the next day and finished reading the section of the Introduction that she hadn't read (she read about half) and asked her opinion of this sacred book. She was quiet and finally said "this book is special. I already know that, and I feel like I want to read the whole entire thing right now!" It took all my self control to not jump up and down :) 

The Lord has plans for Manchester, and allowing us to be instruments in bringing it about :) We're working hard, and the blessings are flowing. Stay updated for next week - it's going to be a whole rush of miracles, I know. The Lord's just barely getting started!  

Okay. We've got to talk about Tennessee some, because this place is CRAZY! I've never been anywhere southern really, and Nashville was just as foreign to me as is Argentina! For starters, it looks nothing like I thought it would - green, trees EVERYWHERE! Couple fun facts about Manchester, TN so far:

1) Hands down, I've seen more roadkill in my past week here than in my whole life combined. Ranking right up there in the "frequent flattened club" are toads. Sick. I've developed this irrational fear of anything that's on the road now, because at first glance, I think it's something dead. Sigh. The things TN does to me.

2) Again, I have eaten more pizza in this past week than the previous couple years combined! Actually, let me rephrase that - people have GIVEN us that much pizza, I won't eat it anymore. We had 3 boxes in the fridge that were given to us when I got here, and have received 3 more since. Sheesh. Either people have a fetish with Pizza Hut around here, or they think we do.  

3) I don't know if this will change once I get into the actual city of downtown Nashville, but Manchester at least, isn't the "southern stereotype" I thought it would be. Yes, there are occasional hillbillies who drive by in tank tops and cowboys hats, but mostly people are (fairly) normal. If I had to say one thing that was different: people are flat out frank around here. Its hilarious :)  

4) Interesting characters I've met this week:
- Wildman - the huge dog owned by a massive black man. Whenever he starts barking at us when we walk by, this huge black man whacks the cage with his cane and yells "quiet down Wildman!"

- The nameless older lady who is outside of her house everyday, for multiple hours, mowing her lawn. With scissors. By hand. Everyday!

- Joel y Adelina, the amazing Hispanic couple, who told us stories about how many times they've been robbed, laughing through each story. They think it's hilarious, and that white people are crazy. They're kind of right.

- Jeremy, the 1/4 Native American son of a less active, who is a professional cook, hasn't cut his hair in 6 years, and carves AMAZING wood carving for a hobby. He also owns a pregnant chihuahua that was severely ticked off that I had the audacity to sit on her couch. Let me tell you, few things from this week have made me laugh more than this pregnant chihuahua, barking so fiercely that it practically fell over, waddling after me with its giant belly swinging around. Got that mental image? Pretty funny, right? :)

Needless to say, it's been an interesting week :) I love the south though!! Like I said before, the Lord has plans for the people here! I truly feel privileged that I was temporarily assigned here - I wouldn't choose anywhere different for the world! True to the Southern stereotype, everyone goes to church here, and it's amazing! Everyone has a belief and faith in their Savior, and no one is ashamed to talk about Christ. Despite their craziness (everyone here has it - it just depends on the severity :), these people are so prepared and receptive, it's amazing! In fact, one of my first days here, Elder Andrew (one of the Assistants to the President) shared this quote with me, a prophecy by President Spencer W. Kimball: 

"Make no small plans: they have no magic to stir men's souls" This is the vision I have for the South. I believe that one day the South will baptize more people into the church than all other English-speaking missions in the world together. There are great hosts of marvelous Baptists, members of the Church of Christ, Methodists, and Catholics who are honorable people, and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and love him. As they see their church veering off to the right or to the left of those basic teachings, they will begin to search for truth; and as pivotal teachers come into the church and have influence, we will see the time when we will baptize hundreds and thousands, tens of thousands, in your day you will see a million members of the church in the South. There will be temples plural in the South States. What a great call you have to serve with these marvelous people. They missionaries love the South. We are making great strides and expect to continue" 

Amazing, right? Well, I'm holding the Lord true to His promise! Hna Smith is a hard worker, has a strong testimony, and just needed someone with the "greenie fire" to kick things into a higher gear. Like I said, stay posted - this next week's going to be a week of miracles :) 

I love you all!! This gospel is SO true - for those who many not understand the gravity of that statement, I invite you to visit and see what Christ's restored church has to say about eternal families, hope, chastity, and life after death. This is a marvelous work, and nothing will stop it from progressing!! 

Hna Hillbilly :) (Now I've got my southern nickname too!)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Week #7 I am off to Nashville, ya'all!!

Hermana Lake's is being temporarily reassigned to the Nashville, Tennessee Mission!!  We got to speak briefly with her on the phone last Friday, just long enough to hear the exciting news!  She departs this Monday morning and it appears that she will be learning another foreign language, ya'all ... she is beyond excited! 

Here is a modified version of Brent Bennett's song, Nashville, Here I Come! 

Got all my things together
Sittin' waiting on the bus
Climbed aboard with my companion
Now it's just the two of us
I have learned so much at the MTC
But I have somewhere new to be
I am bringing my faith and so much more
To Nashville, Tennessee

Everyone's a waitin'
To hear the gospel true
I can feel it in my heart and soul,
I have so much there to do!
Don't know how long I'll serve there
But I will serve with all of me
So, for now, I am off to Nashville
Beautiful, Nashville, Tennessee!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I love Brittany Rigby

Look who I ran into in the MTC bookstore today! She just got in with her companion a few hours ago. It was so fun to see her! Sister Rigby is going to be an AWESOME missionary! In our district, we have already seen miracles happening in the families of those who have chosen to sacrifice and go on a mission. For Hma Goodrich, her brother moved home and started speaking to their mom for the first time in years, and her Grandpa just got baptized last week. He has received the discussions numerous times before, and was finally baptized a month into Hma G´s mission at the age of 93. For Hma Bateman, her aunt decided to be married in the temple (a first in their family in a long time), and her cousin decided to take a Book of Mormon to drug rehab with him and has been attending church weekly. Truly, the Lord takes care of the families of those who serve him! It´s a blessing, and I have no doubt these miracles will extend into Brittany Rigby´s family. So excited!!
Love you all!!
Hma Lake

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Week #6 - Where's Hermana Waldo?

Good news: I had so many emails today, and got to hear from almost everyone I love!!

Bad news: I was so excited about it, I only have a few minutes left on my email... and by a "few" I mean five. So... a short email it is!!  

Highlights of the week:

1) WATCHING GENERAL CONFERENCE! For those who didn't see the "Might Band of Youth" special between the Sunday morning and afternoon session, we were on it! Only briefly though- we were featured in the MTC choir in the opening. (Attached is a photo compliments of the amazing Carissa!)

2) Yesterday, we went to SLC for a meeting with the Argentine consulate and it was really good! He told us more about our specific missions (Rosario is the second biggest city in Argentina and the weather sounds mild.  It is much smaller than Buenos Aires (still, exciting!) He taught us about the Argentine customs in general (including warning us to not freak out when Italian men try to kiss us on the cheek. Thanks for the heads up - I'll only mildly freak out now). The consulate only comes to SLC once every 2 months, so we were lucky to be here at the same time. Blessing! We did more paperwork for our visas; although it was only step 1 of the 2 parts needed to be assigned. SO! We should find out where/when we will temporarily serve in another mission until our visa arrives. We will likely leave the MTC this week -- probably Mon or Tues, as that is when scheduled flights usually leave the MTC). We could leave sooner or later though- we won't know for certain until we get our plans :) It is all up to the Lord. The good news is that I get to call my family once I receive my reassignment! So, expect a call from me sometime tomorrow to update you on the where/when and I will try to catch you later in the evening, and hopefully the kids/Dad will also be around :)

My district and I in front of the SLC temple!  It is weird to recall that the last time I was in that exact spot was with my Mom and Sister Lake Sr. 
3) Going to SLC for our visa meeting -more specifically, temple square and more specifically, the Church Office Building. IT WAS TORTURE!!  I knew that Sister Lake Sr. was within 2 minutes of me, and I was DYING! When it wasn't my turn to be up front, I chilled by the window and tried to look productive while memorizing the First Vision and trying to see if I could find her. The 4 hours we were there were probably the longest 4 hours of my life!  I really hoped to see Sister Lake, Sr. I was almost relieved when we finally got on the bus to go back to the MTC. Sister Lake Sr, just know that I thought about you, missed you, and blew you lots of imaginary kisses!!! :)  
As for me, I'm doing AWESOME! It's been a really good week, and I love the progress! Kind of strange that we're actually leaving soon - not having a where/when makes it a lot less real. But! that should change tomorrow! So exciting!! :)
Okay. Times up. LOVE YOU ALL!!! Sorry!!

Hermana Lake

Me eating the AMAZING Baneezy Breezy that Riss sent me :) We found a rejected jar of Nutella on the altar of sacrifice (the table where missionaries put received but unwanted/unable to eat food sent to them in the MTC)  the Nutella was lovingly adopted into our district... and then we ate it... on baneezy breezy. It was AMAZING!! The sunshine was, too!

P.S. Riss, I totally ate Coco dino bites for breakfast this morning. With almond milk. It was amazing :)

P.P.S. Grandma and Grandpa, thank you for your sweet email! I'm so sorry I didn't have time to say anything back, but just know that I felt your love!

P.P.P.S. Heather Burns, sorry I never responded to the Dear Elder you sent to me a while ago. I've been meaning to, and simply haven't had the time. I know you weren't necessarily expecting me to write back, but I was trying to. Just know that I LOVED hearing about your family, and having a bit of you with me. It made my day! (and you probably don't even remember what you said, it was so long ago, haha :)

Hna G and I with Amy - our new friend who works in the MTC cafeteria. We see her every day and she gives us an update on her mission papers (she submitted them last week!) She also provides us with random Book of Mormon jokes that she makes up. (My personal favorite is "why were the Lamanites late for dinner? Because the Nephites buried the plates" haha.. ha.. ha :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Week #5 - Spring has sprung!

Dear All,  

Good morning! Spring has sprung in Utah, and I LOVE seeing all the flowers. Not entirely sure if they sprout naturally, or if the sneaky grounds crew comes and does it at night because I  never really notice from one day to the next. Then again, I'm starting to realize how exceptionally unobservant I can be sometimes, so maybe that's the answer :)  

This week has been full of ups and downs! Our district is slated to depart to our respective missions on April 8th, but I don't know if that's going to happen or not because of our Argentine visas. Yesterday, we met with a government panel to sign some paperwork and to complete the last steps.  Next Tuesday, we're going to SLC to meet with the consulate and we'll go from there! We'll likely be reassigned, though no one has a definite answer for us. I wouldn't mind serving stateside for a time, especially considering my wonderful experience on Temple Square with Sister Lake, Sr! The uncertainty bugs me - no one know where, when, or what is going on. I suppose that's where faith comes in, and we'll find out eventually!!  

Couple fun facts for this week:

1) Carissa, I totally ate a bowl of  Cocoa Dino Bites in honor of you the other day. They had them in the cafeteria, and I couldn't resist - despite the chocolately overload; I was giggling the whole way through :)
2) Spring is here! This really isn't a fun fact; however, it makes me happy so it's worth including :)

3) Sheri Dew came and spoke to us this last Sunday - it was wonderful to hear from her!

4) Sister Bridget Lewis left this past week to fly to Chicago! As did Sister Elayne Johnson, and Hermana Rachel Ford is supposed to leave in about 2 weeks. It's fun to see some of the girls that I know, and I'm excited for them to go to their respective missions!

This week, our district was by the humility train - we recognized that we all will be leaving soon, and desperately need to focus, buckle down, and WORK harder! It's been hard to do, but I know that we will get through this and be grateful for the lessons we've learned in the end. For me in particular, I was hit by the significance of a scripture that another Hma shared with me a few days ago - in Jacob 2 and the Lord is speaking about His vineyard. More or less, he states "What more could I have done for my vineyard?" as he is surveying the damage done by sin and pride. However,  this scripture was especially significant to me because it speaks of the need we all have of recognizing our own faults instead of blaming others. For me personally, I realized that I am at times too prideful to recognize that I have blame in a given situation. And yet, in this passage our perfect Heavenly Father would ask Himself, "What more could I have done?" This speaks to me of the humility needed to recognize my own faults - for truly, the greatest of all faults is to recognize none within yourself.  

On a happy note, Hma Goodrich and I had a fun picnic the other day! We got a sack lunch, some chips/salsa from the bookstore (Karis - it was Tostito salsa. Be jealous :) and had a picnic in our room. It was super fun, and I loved the chance to just sit and enjoy her as a person. It's fun to make the transition from "companion" to "friend". So great!!  

The first is from the picnic is of my and Hma G's picnic! We talked a lot about our family traditions, and it was a blast :)
The second is a picture of pound cake and Nutella - Elder Creer's Mom sends boxes of goodies all the time. I'm fairly sure she's trying to kill us all with sugar overload :) He shared some of the pound cake with us, and we found a jar of Nutella to put on it! Problem was we didn't have a knife or spoon to spread the Nutella - so, we bought some bagels from the vending machine to use the tiny plastic applicators that they come with :) It was super yummy!
 Love to all!
Hermana Lake