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Monday, August 31, 2015

State Fair!

Good morning!

We are going to the state fair this morning, so I don't have a ton of time to write but I have some stories this week. This week was the first week that I really felt like a missionary, because I finally have crazy door-knocking stories. 

The beginning of the week started out pretty average, we had a zone p-day talent show, and then hung out for a bit afterwards. I love my zone, especially the sisters. It's amazing to see how different Hna Scholl and I are in a group, I would just naturally gravitate towards the other sisters, because we could relate. Sis Checketts came out the same day I did, Sis Matagi and Sis Parke are our Sis training leaders, and I love them all so much. Tuesday, average. Elder Aquino, our district leader, gave an excellent training on convincing vs persuading people to hear the message of the Restoration. We need to understand our investigators' desires and abilities to accomplish the things we commit them to. Wednesday, crazy. We had new missionary training, which was really good also. The part that stuck out the most was about how as companions we need to have unity and love each other, because we can't love our investigators if we don't have love for our companion. The crazy part started after dinner. We were at an apartment complex that a number of our investigators and members live at, looking for Janeth, a recent convert who is 14. her mom told us she was at the park, so we went over there. As we were walking two Kenyan guys called us over and asked what we were doing. One of them was asked if the missionaries helped pay for people to come to America and learn about the church, because he still has family in California. It was really hard to understand him because he had a heavy accent and we were by a busy road. The other guy was relatively interested in our message. So Hna Scholl taught him while I "distracted" the other guy, because literally every time I opened my mouth he would start talking. They started to ask us things like "how old are you?" "do you want kids?" "can you marry outside of your tribe?" hahaha the one I was talking to offered to by me a nice ring, so basically we were proposed to by some Kenyans in the park. The night gets better. After that, we went to Hna Yaya's, a sassy Costa Rican lady's, and she feeds us which I love. I think I've talked about her before actually. But she started telling us about her old boyfriends, and one in particular who she would tell that she loves "con todo su higado" which means all her liver, because he broke her heart. And then she told a story about when she worked in a casino and a guy started flirting with her so she poured hot coffee down his shirt. Crazy.

Thursday was normal, but Friday we had service. I love it! i also learned about the difference between Orthodox and Catholic, because apparently they're not the same thing. All of the volunteers we work with are Orthodox. Friday afternoon I went on exchanges with Sis Matagi in the English area. It was absolutely mind blowing to me how comfortable English work was. We had dinner with a member, ate pancakes, knocked on normal houses, not apartment buildings, like it was SO comfortable. Everything about it. Sister Matagi and I are the exact same person. She is awesome. I really loved it... Hopefully I get there with my Spanish.

One more cool experience: we have been working with a semi less active member, Hno Benjamin (ben-ha-meen). He loves the Gospel, but is lazy, and doesn't like to make the effort to come to church. So Saturday we went over and were talking about faith and obedience and when we're obedient we can have the desire to be more obedient. For the first time on my mission, I felt actually inspired. I asked him if he had ever fasted before, and he said no. I invited him to come to church, and think about fasting for fast Sunday next week. Guess what. He came to church. And there were two talks about fasting, and one of them was the third hour fifth Sunday discussion that Bishop Volz led. It was so good. Boom. Spirit. 

Bishop Volz is great, he learned Spanish by studying in college and going on a study abroad in Spain. And now he's a bishop of a Spanish ward. 

Dad, Bishop Volz is guerro (white), our ward mission leader is white, and there are like two or three others. They're usually married to a hispanic. Our area is kind of sketch occasionally. There hasn't been a time where I felt completely unsafe. We usually are in our car after dark. We spend a lot of time in apartment buildings. We don't use our bikes hardly at all, we're using them to get to the fair today! There is a designated driver in each area, and we're not allowed to drive in our first six weeks.

It's been a good week. I am soooooooooo excited for the fair. 
I am also really jealous of your weekend. But really glad you had fun. 

Love you!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Time, Tornados and teaching

Thanks for your emails this week, the combination of Mom, Dad, and Lauren's emails and a letter from Josh really made my week. Mom, I haven't gotten the skirt yet, but I am sure it's waiting for me at the mission office. We're going over there a little later today for a zone talent show haha. So I'll get it then probably, and if it's not there, we have new missionary training (that's me) on Wednesday. This week has been cooler, the high today is like 65. So anytime you want to send that box of winter stuff it probably can't come too soon. 

Ok, what is it with the roads here?! The on ramp off ramp thing is insane!

Last Monday, I forgot a story I wanted to tell you. We ended up taking to a couple of Muslims in the park last week, and I really enjoyed learning more about them and answering their questions too. They weren't really interested in changing, just curious mostly, but the thing that made me laugh was the lady who would look at me with the "you poor child, your soul is lost" face. We actually get that face relatively often.

This last week, we spent half of Tuesday, all of Wednesday, and half of Saturday at home because Hna Scholl was sick. Who knew that Hna Wynne at the MTC was good practice for the field! I tend to go to hyperdrive when I've been stuck inside for multiple days. One of the days, I cleaned basically the whole apartment, caught up on my journal writing, did a couple other random things, got so much done. It was great for about the first three hours. It's all good though, we are healthy again. I was only sick on Sunday. We didn't do a ton this week because of that, and so this week feels like it didn't even exist. 

On the days we did go out, we did some cool stuff. On Monday, we went and played soccer as a district for p day and checked out one of the little Hispanic malls on Lake Street in Minneapolis. They are just a bunch of random tiendas, the culture shock is still settling in for me. On Tuesday morning we had zone conference, and it was exactly what I needed after last week. Sister Forbes talked about how we can be completely obedient if we choose one thing to work on at a time, and like I said last week, I was feeling overwhelmed because being a missionary is hard (who knew). The whole conference was about finding people to teach and the things we can use to help us. It really refueled my fire to teach and meet people. This week I have been a lot better about talking during lessons, talking to people at church, talking in general. It was amazing how much more I could understand at church yesterday than my first Sunday here. At zone conference, Elder and Sister Graff (Grandma and Grandpa Andrus' neighbors) talked to us about food and gaining weight. Let me just say that a food reformation is in order. 

Thursday, we had a zone service activity at Minnehaha park, we also went to the falls, aka the one man made water fall because there are no mountains here therefore waterfalls don't exist, but it was still fun. I think service is my favorite part of being a missionary so far. After service we went to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch, obviously the Elders' idea, but the burger was good. 

Friday we had dinner with Roger, a recent convert of almost a year. Let me tell you about Roger. He's only one of the coolest people ever. English was his first language, and then he moved to Puerto Rico where his parents are from. Grew up there, worked in Buenos Aires for a while, moved back here, retired because he saw that money wasn't getting him anywhere, (basically he was thinking about being a monk for a while) and now he basically just helps out the church as much as he can. He loves missionaries, so he takes one of the sets of missionaries out probably three or four times a week. And is always doing nice stuff for us, like bringing us soup and medicine when we're sick. Like four tubs of soup, a box of breadsticks, and two things of NyQuil. Amazing. 
Roger came with us to both our lessons that night. In one of the lessons, I had probably my best teaching moment since I've been out. We were talking about grace and how we don't need to be perfect, and Roger turned to me and asked something about how we develop more faith. I actually gave a fairly eloquent response about the cycle of obedience and faith and the spirit was there and everything. Both Hna Scholl and Roger mentioned it afterward about how perfect it was. It was neat to feel comfortable for a second. 

Saturday morning, we had breakfast with Hna Yaya, she's from Costa Rica, and my goodness it was good. Bread and sausage and potatoes, and juice and hot chocolate, and wait for it.... fried eggs. I ate them. And I actually kind of enjoyed it. I know your minds are exploding. She also told me that I look like a Barbie. Saturday night we had a lesson, and during the lesson it was storming sooooo hard! There was a tornado warning and everything! What do you even do during a tornado? I don't even know. 

Ok I'm almost done. Sunday, yesterday, like I said, I understood waaay more and I even initiated a couple of conversations. The members are nice to me and talk slowly and are cool to repeat things if I need them to. I really appreciate it. Church is so funny though. Like hilarious. First of all, singing hymns is so different. There is definitely like a mariachi almost yelling thing that happens. So funny. And less funny, it surprises me how few of the members are endowed. The vast majority have not been to the temple. It just creates a different atmosphere and calls for a different dress code at church, especially for the women. Also, Mexican stereotypes are real. When we go out to knock doors, we look specifically for Christmas lights in August, any holiday decoration that doesn't fit the time of year, cases of  bottled water, shoes left outside, etc. It's real. 

Last thing, This week Hna Scholl and I have gotten to know each other a little better, and I wanted to share, just so you can understand how different we are. Also to prove that you don't have to like the same things to get along. Hna Scholl was homeschooled up until college, she took five years of Latin, when I saw her run, I'll be real, I almost laughed out loud, she loves folk dance with a passion, and went to a concert almost every week at BYU. We graduated high school the same year. We have very different lifestyles, and different ideas of what a good lesson looks like. 

This week has been a lot better. Thanks for your support, this would be impossible without an awesome family. I took lots of notes this week, how do you feel about the longer email? 
Besos gorditos!

Love, Emily

Monday, August 10, 2015


Hi fam, So as you can imagine, this week has been crazy. I've never been so tired in my life. My trainer's name is Hna. Scholl, she is from AZ, is the oldest of seven, has been on her mission for nine months, and has been in this area for six of them. We are in the Richfield/Bloomington Spanish area. Sister Cupke told you Roseville, which is wrong. Our area covers all of Richfield, Edina, Bloomington, Chaska, Eden Prairie, and the south part of Minneapolis, it also goes further west about two hours, but we don't have the miles to go that far. You can send my mail directly to my apartment, packages still go to the mission home.

8080 12th Ave S #111 
Bloomington, MN 55425

If you send me mail I can get a library card. I don't know why I need one, but you should send me a card or something.

My first night here, we taught a lesson in Spanish to three people. My second day, we started knocking doors a little bit. First door we knocked invited us back. A little bit of a shock to my brain, but it was good. We had a baptism on Saturday, so that was a neat way to start here. The Hispanic/Latino culture is one of my new favorite
things. It's so fun. I get told/asked how tall I am all the time. (Que alta hermanita!) Haha so cute. I love being called Hermana/Hermanita. Besitos (the greeting kisses) are adorable, church was an interesting and new experience. I've met so many awesome people in the past week. I think my favorite thing we did this week was service with an organization called FOCUS, which collects necessities like hygiene kits, clothes, and shoes for people that need it for free or really cheap. We go to help translate a little bit. You meet fascinating people at places like that. It's in this basement with 6'6" ceilings in Minneapolis. One of the volunteers Chris and I started talking. He's an older guy, with MS, so he doesn't walk very well, but he has two masters degrees and a doctorate degree in composition, piano performance, and like Greek or something like that. I love talking to people. Most of the volunteers there are from different denominations, so it's fun to talk to them. Chris is staunch Eastern Orthodox. Seriously, people are so fascinating.

My embarrassing/funny story of the week of course happened because I'm a gringa. Hna Perez is a fantastic member of the church, a single mom, and an RM, asked us if we wanted to go out to eat, and I said I wasn't
really hungry, but we could go if she wanted, etc etc, I don't really know what happened, I don't understand most of what anyone says to me. But fun fact, declining food is really rude. "Super offensive" I think is the phrase Hna Scholl used. Awesome. Hna Perez was cool about it though (I think?!) and we ended up going to this hole-in-the-wall Chinese buffet, and Hna Perez didn't even get anything! She just watched us eat. She said "coma con confianza" more than once and kept asking if I was full and to eat more and more. I felt bad about declining food earlier, so I ate probably three plates more than I would have (I only had three plates.) sketch. They had whole octopi there. So anyway. Funny, sort of. Hopefully I made up for it. I realllly dig Hispanic food though. Soooo good. One of our less active members made us mole (moh-leh) verde and it was probably the
best thing I've ever eaten. 

I love Minnesota. It's absolutely gorgeous. My favorite thing though is seen all the different types of people. So many different cultures. It really is awesome. My Spanish is coming along. It's harder than I though it would be, but even in a week I have gotten better. It's so fun. Basically the whole mission thing is great except for being so tired all the time. It's also been hard because even though Hna Scholl works hard and we teach a lot, I feel like we could be so much more productive and I don't know how to bring it up. She's been here for six months and obviously has a groove, but the groove isn't as productive as I want it to be. Things like spending twice as long at
lessons as we should be, or playing futbol every other Friday, just little things. I am going to bring up Thursday at the latest because that's when we have comp inventory. I want to be as obedient and productive as possible, and I don't know how to do that with another person haha. But it's inspired to have companion ships, so we'll see. All in all, I love it. The hardest thing is being tired, because it zaps motivation so quickly. Hopefully you've enjoyed my adventures this week!

Love, Emily

P.S. Also we have iPads. So send me pictures so I can save them. Will you also send me exercise ideas? I have done nothing this last week because Hna Scholl likes to stretch. The pictures I'm sending are of my desk and bed. I just bought the camo sheets today. I'm a cool kid. I actually love them. And then also my iPad selfie with Hna Scholl being productive bakering in the background.