Monday, November 30, 2009

email of 30 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, I'm going to try to get the pictures to work, but I may not be able to "due to restrictions on this computer"....

Anyways, My week has been GREAT! How about yours?

Thanksgiving on the mission is a little different...still good, just not quite the same. And actually, this Thanksgiving was really great; Wednesday, we got to go down to the Santa Monica Civic Center to help set up for their "2009 Thanksgiving Feast!", which is one of the most awesome things I've ever seen or done as far as service projects go. What it is, is a HUGE Thanksgiving feast, primarily for the homeless and those in need, but also just for anyone who needs a place on Thanksgiving. It's amazing though--besides the TONS of donated food, they also have lots of really awesome free services that people come together to offer. They set up a fairly big clothing "store" full of great donated clothing that people can go shopping in (all clothing is free), there are free haircuts and makeup, several jumpers (moon bounce things...they're really popular out here), free pony rides for the kids, a photo booth, free medical, eye and dental screening, hygiene kits, extra food and blankets to take home, etc. It was awesome. So we helped to set things up on Wednesday, and then on Thursday we came back and helped to serve. As we were helping on Wednesday, we were unloading a bunch of stuff from the back of a big semi that was full of donated items, and as we were doing so, someone in the truck dropped a jar of turkey gravy, which hit the edge of the truck and pretty much exploded on my companion and I. Yep, turkey gravy. A-L-L O-V-E-R. It was great.

It was actually a very spiritual experience for me to be there and serve and to see all the love and care from the thousands of volunteers who donate time, food, clothing, money, etc, and then to see the people who came in that we were able to serve, some of whom literally carried their entire lives in a book bag. It really brought back memories of the soup kitchen for me too :) Thanks for that, by the way. That little service that we did each month for so long has really made a difference and an impact on my life, and I just want you to know that for as many of those days that I whined about it, now I'm really grateful for the experience.

As for our actual Thanksgiving dinner, we just went over to the Bishop's house and ate with them; it was a nice little dinner.

The rest of our week was good too. Actually, on Friday we ran into a guy named Alex who basically invited himself to church...AND HE ACTUALLY CAME!!!!!!!!! And then our Gospel Principles lesson was on the Law of Chastity...oh boy. We were sure praying the whole way through the lesson! Turns out though, that he really enjoyed it! Said it was good to see/hear that "there are still girls out there with real morals, ya know?" The Spirit pointed out to me later as I was pondering that I need to have more faith...

Then, in the single's ward, who should I run into but Jessica Gunson, who was out here for the holiday! Wow! I don't think I'd seen her in about 5 years! It was crazy, but really fun too!

Mom, as for music, I would LOVE some David Tolk/Paul Cardall (as long as it's all hymns or primary songs), any other Mo-Tab, etc. Just as long as it's hymns, primary songs, or classical (100+ years old); any arrangements. Oh, and I LOVE the Lex deAzevedo cd's that Sam had/listened to on his mission! Please no single's ward though...thanks :)

Ok, that's about all my time...sorry this is a bit scattered and not super spiritual, but just know that I AM having great spiritual experiences, and that my testimony grows every day here!!!

I Love Being a Missionary!!!

I Love YOU!!!!!


Your Hermana Sallie


ps I'll try to send pictures next week...I couldn't get it to work on the comp here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

email of 23 November 2009

This one will be shorter than usual...I spent most of my time writing a few personal emails, so I've only got about 10 minutes.

This week has been great! Sister Dickson and I are really loving the work here! We're really working and praying for more inverstigators to teach, and are specifically working an having greater faith, both individually and as a companionship. We're really excited to have found the "Spanish area" of our area; Hispanic apartment buildings are the best for tracting and finding, so we're excited to know where those are around here! There are a lot of relatively wealthy white people around here, and, sadly, for the most part, they aren't generally very interested in hearing about the Gospel. SOME of them are though, which is why we're here! The work just keeps moving forward!

How are all the Thanksgiving plans coming? We're probably going to go over to the Bishop's for our Thanksgiving dinner, though nothing's set in stone yet. It WAS pretty funny to hear him say that they'd have two pumpkin pies, "and that should be plenty"...TWO PUMPKIN PIES?!? I guess I'm just accustomed to Thanksgiving on a slightly larger in 15 or 20 pies...and then some :)

I'm coming to realize just how important and key faith is as the basis of our testimonies. And not just faith, but faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Without that, whithout Him, nothing else really matters, and all this great "gospel knowledge" and understanding that we have really doesn't mean anything. He IS the Rock of our salvation, and the very focus of our faith.

Also, something that I really like from sacrament meeting yesterday is this: It's through simple acts of obedience and submission that we come to know the Lord and to have our hearts and very natures changed. Change and transformation IS possible. Just look at Saul/Paul.

The Church is true, the Savior lives, He loves us!

I Love you, and I love being a missionary!


Hermana Sallie


Monday, November 16, 2009

email of 16 November 2009

Hello My Dear Family!!!

WELL! What a week it has been!
Brand new companion, brand new area, brand new everything, almost!

I LOVE it though!

My new companion is Sister Dickson, from Virginia (the D.C. area), and she's WONDERFUL! I'm pretty sure I ended up with one of the easiest missionaries to train ever...she pretty much came trained. She really is great -- she loves the work and is super excited for it, she's a great teacher, she works hard, and just loves being here! The very first day, when we take the brand new missionaries out tracting for a few hours, I actually got to go with her (this was before they decided who was training who...they just pair the new missionaries up with whatever trainer and then send us out), and I was just amazed. She was really excited to go out and work, and at the first door, she just opened up her mouth and went for it! I was scared to death that first day!!! Anyways, she's great. Her spanish is really good too, and she loves to speak it at any chance. We're really enjoying working together here, and as challenging as it is to "flush"/"whitewash" an area, it's been fun and I wrote last week: refreshing, yet stretching. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have Sister Dickson for a companion though; I don't think I could have asked for a better "goldie" (that's what we call greenies here in the CLAM), or even a better companion for this adventure!!!

Speaking of my new area, Marina del Rey is BEAUTIFUL!!! ESPECIALLY down by the marina...all the boats, and the smell of the salt's great! The demographic and just overall feel of this area is completely different than Downey, but I love it! It's much more laid-back, and yet much more professional and high-tech at the same time (the overall population here is quite a bit wealthier than in Downey). It's been challenging to figure out what to do and how to work here, especially since neither one of us knows the area, but I feel like we're finally starting to get it, and are finally getting more things into our schedule than just tracting/contacting. It took a little while those first few days to kinda get a feel for the area, and to figure out what works well, but we decided to just work as hard as we can, keep all the rules, follow the Standards of Excellence, and pray pray pray!!! We're both feeling really good about this upcoming week, especially after church yesterday. We're covering 3 different wards here: Westdale 2nd (a family/mid-singles ward), Santa Monica 3rd (a young singles ward), and La Cienega (a spanish ward). So far, we really love them; there's just so much life in these wards! This week, we decided to be bold and really use being brand-new to our advantage. So during ward council, we asked the bishops if we could have a couple of minutes during sacrament meeting to stand up and introduce ourselves and maybe bear our testimonies. They, of course, were happy to let us; so during sacrament meeting we stood up, introduced ourselves, and took just a few minutes to let the whole ward know that we are SO excited to be here in their ward, and that we're looking forward to visting and getting to know them, and that we're ready to work hard in this area of the Lord's vineyard. And then the bold part...we told them that our purpose as missionaries here in Marina del Rey is to BAPTIZE, and we're here to do it! Yep, straight from the pulpit. We read a few verses from the BofM that talk about that, and then just said it straight out: we're here to baptize! The thing is, we KNOW that the field here really is white, and here we are, ready to harvest! That means baptism, and THAT means that we need their help!

Anyways, it was pretty exciting, and we were able to meet a lot of great members; These wards are great, and we really ARE excited to be here, to work, and to baptize! The great thing about being flushed into an area, especially with a goldie, is that neither one of you really knows WHAT to expect (as far as stereotypes, etc), so you just go for it with all you've got! PLUS, with Sis. Dickson, I've got the extra bit of "greenie-fire" that comes out of the MTC. LOVE IT!!!

Alrighty, I'm about done, but just a few more quick things:

If somebody could maybe facebook Jessica Gunson for me, I just wanted to let her know that I'm now serving in her old singles ward -- Santa Monica 3rd -- and she's still remembered and loved :)

We're going to head over to Target today because I need to buy another sweater or's chillier here than in Downey.

Oh! I don't think that I ever said thank you for my favorite part of that package that you sent me -- the homemade GRANOLA!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!! I have been thoroughly enjoying it!

Ok, well, that's about it for this week. I love and miss you all tons, but I am LOVING being a missionary here in California, and I'm safe and happy and well!

I Love You!!!

I Love Being a Missionary!!!

Hermana Sallie


pps We met an old jewish woman from Romania this week who thinks that Jesus was just a chiropractor...yeah...

Monday, November 9, 2009

email of November 9 2009

I’m going to have a baby!

...In mission lingo, that means that I'm going to be TRAINING.


That's And not just training, but FLUSH training. THAT means that I'm going to an entirely new area, and will be getting an entirely and brand new companion to work with there.

It's kind of a big deal. And I'm kind of scared to death. But also kind of excited. In the words of Elder Gold (one of our APs), it will be a refreshing and also stretching experience for me. So tomorrow I will, once again, be taking my beloved companion up to the mission home, and leaving her there for her final day with the President and his wife (and all the other departing missionaries). Then I'll come back and work with another sister whose companion is going home for the day. Wednesday morning, Sister Tavares, my incredible companion, will fly home to Argentina to start her life all over again. She's really nervous. A little bit LATER on Wednesday morning, I will be going up to the mission home, taking my stuff up to the temple apartments (right behind the mission home and temple), where I'll be living and training for at least the next 6 weeks, then heading over to the Westwood chapel (right behind the temple apartments) to do our little 1st day/Trainer's training dealy-o. Wednesday night I'll go home to a new home, with a brand-new, fresh-from-the-MTC companion. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOH dear, I only hope that I'm up to the task. Well, actually, I know that the Lord will make me up to the task, and that makes everything ok. But I'm still nervous. I feel very inadequate, but also very excited. I know that this really will be a growing experience for me!

My new area will be Marina del Rey -- close to the ocean! I'll also get to come home to the sight of the L.A. temple all lit up every night! AND, all the Christmas lights are going up and should be turned on sometime right after Thanksgiving, so that will be wonderful! However, I'm leaving my dear, beloved Downey, with all of my amazing investigators and recent converts, which makes me sad. It's how the mission goes though, and I know the sister (who will also be training) who will be coming in, and I'm SO grateful that she's the one taking over. She'll be great!

I DID finally get the Halloween package -- THANK YOU!!!!! We thoroughly enjoyed it, and yes, I most definitely shared with the elders in my district and zone!

I have some semi-bad news...You know that cute little Halloween card I sent you? Well, just minutes after that picture was taken, we were taking another picture, and my camera was dropped. on the floor of CVS. and then it wouldn't work anymore.
Our Bishop here knows someone who does camera stuff, and took it to get looked at, but the guy said that with the part (something with the lense) and labor, it would probably be easier, and possibly cheaper, to just buy a new camera. I was really sad because I LOVED that camera!

THANKFULLY, all of my pictures are fine; it's just that my camera is completely out of commission at the moment :( I haven't really decided what to do about it yet, but just so that you know, I won't be emailing any pictures anytime real soon.
My companion was actually the one who dropped the camera, and she has felt SO BAD about it. She may or may not be trying to replace it once she gets home, but I told her not to worry too much about it - it was an accident, and I'd feel bad having her pay to replace it. I don't know....

ANYWAYS, on to happier news!

We had a baptism yesterday!!! Vilma was baptized, and it was wonderful! Something that I've learned about baptisms though, at least as a missionary, it seems that things ALWAYS come up/happen right up until the very last minute to interfere with the baptism! Darn satan...always trying to ruin our plans!!! Thankfully, the Lord always steps in too, and things usually go off just fine.

Today, as it's Sister Tavares's last day, and P-day, we've gotten to go to a few of her old areas and see a few of her recent converts. It's been so fun! We had breakfast in Marina del Rey (her first area, where I'm headed!), then went over to Westwood, where we had lunch with some of the funniest people I've ever met! They're two old Jewish women who were baptized in their 60's, I believe (both of them had to wait until their parents died before getting baptized), and they're just hysterical! They also had a good friend there, who is a Muslim from Kuwait. It was SO interesting to talk to him!

So far on my mission, I've met LOTS of Hispanics (Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Chile, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Mexico, Mexico), a few people from Spain, a Japanese couple, two Egyptians, a German, and now a Kurd (I think that's how you say it...from Kuwait)!
Anyways, we're about to have 2 dinners...uuuuuuuuugh...and THEN we're going to stop by Ron's (one of our favorite investigators), who is cooking us fresh lobster that he caught last week. He also gave us an aloe vera plant, so now we can be like everyone else in California (it seems like EVERYONE has aloe plants here!).

Anyways, things here are going amazing for me! It was great hearing from all of you again this week! Have fun with Samuel and Jacob :) and keep keeping the commandments!!!



Hermana Sallie


Monday, November 2, 2009

email of 2 November 2009

Querido familia mia,
(Keh-ree-doh fah-mee-lee-ah mee-ah....means dear family of mine)

Thank you so so much for all the email last week and this week! I DO love getting on and having lots to read, but if something happens, no worries - I'm not on a mission just for the mail ;) In fact it's something I've really had to work on - not living from mail day to mail day. I do love getting mail, it just isn't the ONLY thing I love :)

So this week the questions were from Dad!

P-day schedule:
P-day is usually about as follows (except for temple pdays or night pdays, or "something else weird happened" pdays) :

Up at 615, start laundry at member's house, exercise, home, prepare (shower/breakfast, etc), personal study at 8, companionship study at 9, district or zone activity from 1030-12, and then from 12-6 to do everything else we need to do; email, groceries, wash the car (every week), clean the apartment (home-blessing:), write snail mail letters, etc. At 6 we go back to work, and work as normal. For email, we come to the library, and have 60 minutes (timed) to use the computer. I usually get on, read/skim my emails, send them to the printer and then write. When I send my little "I'm on! 54 minutes" email, that just means that I'll be only for the next however many minutes, so if you have anything else you'd like to write for me to get before the following monday, that's your time frame. We're allowed however much time we can squeeze out of the rest of the pday to write regular letters, but with everything we have to get done, it tends to go by really fast, and I'm lucky to get one or two letters written.

And that's about it. :) Sometimes we have "free pday," which means no district/zone activity, so that's some good extra time for us to do stuff. Temple pday just moves our pday to Wednesday, and night pday means that we work until 1pm, then have pday as normal, but until 9 instead of 6, usually with a district/zone activity in the evening. That's actually what's happening today.

As far as the other super-secret-ninja address, sorry Charley, but all mail's gotta go through the mission home. That's fine though - it's all part of the deal.
I AM realy excited to get the halloween package though! I should probably get it on Friday. For Halloween, we had to be in at 6pm instead of 9, and had the time to do pretty much whatever we liked (within mission rules, of course). I made soup and wrote letters (oh, AND did monthly numbers...).

I will certainly continue to send lots of prayers your way! Don't worry though, as long as you're all keeping the commandments, God's gonna prosper you - He has too; He promised. :) I just read about that this week in my personal study. And no, there's no way that I'll make it through the entire BofM this was just a little much. I DID make it all the way through the small plates of Nephi and Words of Mormon though! And guess what? The Book of Mormon's amazing! Of course :)

We had an amazing zone conference this last week! Our President and his wife spoke, the AP's trained (we have some excellent APs -- I always really thoroughly enjoy and learn great things from their training.), two sets of zone leaders trained, and we also had a guest speaker. Brother Preston Jay Waite, who's actually the former US Census Director, came and spoke to us. He's a good friend of President Blackburn's from back when thye were both living and working in D.C. His talk was so good! He talked a lot about obedience and integrity, and the blessings that come from them. President Blackburn is one who truly has an obedient spirit, and as such is very firm about us being exactingly obedient as well. He's no tyrant or anything -- quite the contrary! He simply understands well the blessings that come from being obedient (D/C 130:20-21), and wants that for each of us individually, and for our mission as a whole. I'm coming to understand better the blessings that come from that as well, especially when we're obedient because we WANT to be, and because we love the Lord, and not because "we're 'post to" (Thank you brother bytheway).

We also have a new mission challenge to work toward that we're all really excited about! We're going to have a "White Christmas" in L.A.! We've been promised that with our obedience and sacrifice, each companionship in the entire mission CAN and WILL baptize in the month of December! That's about 180 baptisms! :) With the challenge, each district/zone will be taking pictures of all the missionaries in white, to be put up in the mission office, and with each baptism, we'll be taking pictures of our recent converts in white at their baptism, also to be posted in the mission office. It's going to be so good, and I'm really excited!

We've been seeing some really great miracles lately -- Ron is continuing to progress; he came to church again on Sunday, and is praying about a Dec. 5th baptismal date! He's doing so good, and we're so happy for him! Vilma will be getting baptized this coming Sunday, which we're also thrilled about. We took her to a baptism yesterday, and she really loved it. She's wonderful. We're just starting to teach a few different people and families who really get and understand what we're teaching, and I can't tell you how awesome that is!!! AHHHH I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!!

I do, as always, send my love and prayers. I love and miss you more than you know, but it really is an awesome thing to be about the Lord's business in this way. I'm so grateful for the opportunity.

I Love You!
I Love Being a Missionary!

Hermana Sallie