Wednesday, July 27, 2011

First Week in the Field

Querida Familia,

Pues, I have completed my first week in the field! Its been really great. Hermana Summers is awesome and I'm really glad to have her as my trainer. La Rama (the branch) appears to be good here. I haven't really gotten to know the members yet, but I think we're trying to build better relationships with them, so I'm sure I'll have a better idea of how it is later. Apparently there were some elders here before that weren't doing what they were supposed to and lost a lot of the respect that the members have for the missionaries, so we're working on changing that. There are four other companionships in our district, three of which our elders and there are two districts in our zone. There are only two other Spanish missionaries here so they have the west half of the area and we have the east.

The weather has been super interesting. Thunder and lightening nearly every day, but still pretty hot and humid. Two nights in a row we didn't get any sleep the thunder was so bad. It was setting off car alarms. It was also a little nerve wracking because a little before I got here one of the apartment buildings next to us actually got hit by lightning, so its burned skeleton is still standing there to remind me that I could die because of lightning. Something I have never worried about before, that has been added to my list of anxieties. :)

Speaking of lightning. GUESS WHAT WE HAVE IN ILLINOIS?!?!!? LIGHTNING BUGS!!!!! Yeah. I'm excited.

Spanish is improving pretty rapidly. The first two days I really understood almost nothing, but now I usually understand at least enough that I can actually participate in the conversation. We still run into people that I just smile and nod the whole time though, for sure. Yesterday I talked a ton more while we were knocking doors and during our lessons, so I'm feeling pretty good right now.

Sweet stories from this week:

You know that lesson I told you I had last Wednesday night? My very first lesson with a real investigator? Yeah? Well that was the first visit for Hermana Summers with him as well, and we set a baptismal date during that lesson. So, probably the best first lesson ever. The investigators name is Sergio, and he has met with the missionaries before, so we can't take all of the credit, but it was still awesome. He has actually had a couple of dates set, but they never worked out. But he referred himself online, and he told us he wants to be baptized for sure- he knows he needs it and he knows that he belongs in this church. So we are just reviewing the lessons for him. He is so fun to teach. He is really interested and really wants to know. He even takes notes!!

We are teaching a really young couple named Maria y Luis, and they have a super adorable baby who's less than a year named Luis Ernesto. Apparently the first time that Hermana Summers and her companion before talked to them they were super excited, but then they talked to Luis's brother, who is very involved in his church, and they got a little nervous. Hermana Summers tells me that Maria seemed afraid of the Book of Mormon. But they invited Hermana Summers and her other companion to come to their house and meet their "religious guide," and the other companion accepted. Then I got moved in. So we were super nervous, because we don't want to Bible Bash and we don't want to have any contention involved in our lessons at all. But when we showed up, it turned out to be a Bible study. It was actually really enjoyable. They were talking about baptism and they had everything spot on from why infants don't need to be baptized, to that we need to be baptized by immersion to why we need to be baptized at all. They were only missing one thing: the authority to baptize. After it was almost over they asked us if we had any questions and Hermana Summers asked them, "Where does the authority come from to baptize people?" and they all knew that was a good question, and they all acknowledged that we need authority from God to perform sacred ordinances like baptism, but they couldn't answer the question. And yesterday when we went back to visit with Maria y Luis, Maria said she wants to read the Book of Mormon!! I'm super excited. Luis still seems to be thinking about whatever his brother told him, and doesn't seem to like us very much, but at least he lets us in the house. and lets Maria listen. and lets Maria give us agua de sandia or watermelon water, which is the best drink ever.

Last story. We were knocking doors and NO ONE was answering. We were really hot and tired and were just about to give up, but decided to knock the last two houses on the street. We knocked one and an old lady answered the door wearing oxygen and standing in her underwear. She saw us and said, in an out of breath old lady voice, "Oh! Oh! Come in, come in!!" We were kind of worried, considering she was in her underwear, but we went in. Her house was a mess. Like off of the television show hoarders. So, she asked us if we could help her, and we thought she meant with her mess. Of course we said yes, we'd love to. And then she told us that she had been trying to get her top off, but she just couldn't and she didn't want to taker her oxygen off to try harder and she was about to call 911 when we knocked. And then she nearly passed out. So we got her to calm down and sit and take some deep breaths. Then we helped her take her shirt off. So this 72 year old lady stood there in front of us in her underwear and started to cry, telling us she knew that God sent us to her. Despite the comical circumstances, it was kind of neat. She then went and put another shirt on (but still no pants) and we just chatted. Her husband died in 2003, and the man who she'd been living with (her best friend) had just been put in the hospital with 6 months left to live. Her daughter is also having health problems. So we just listened and let her cry, and then we shared the best comfort we could, about how God knows us and cares for us and really does hear and answer our prayers. I think she took comfort in that reminder. We asked if we could send the English missionaries over to talk to her more, but she said she was really busy going to visit her friend in the hospital. But she did take our phone number, and actually let us borrow a recipe book that we are returning to her this week. So maybe we'll talk to her again. She was a super sweet old lady.

So yeah. Things are going awesome. We've got some great people that we're teaching and this last week while knocking doors we found some more who seem really interested. We have a couple of investigators who really want to get baptized, but two of them are living together, and can't get married until a divorce goes through in Mexico, which is really difficult, so we're waiting on that. And then one woman we're teaching is living with her boyfriend, but she says he keeps saying he's going back to Mexico, so she just wants to wait for him to leave on his own before she gets baptized. It sounds like these are some pretty common problems that we are going to run into.

I love you. Send me letters and pictures and other exciting things. Keep me posted on whats going on at home! Tell Ada and Luis and crew, HOLA! I wish I could be there to see them, they're the best.

Okay. I think thats about all for now. I'm sure I'll think of more later.

Les quiero mucho.

Hermana Moreno

First Day in Chicago



Hola! Today is my first day out in the field, but also Wednesdays are preparation days, so my first day you get to hear all about getting here without me forgetting more details!

So, since the last time I talked to you (which was yesterday morning if you don't remember :) ) I have been on an airplane, met the mission president and his wife, been on a train, talked to complete strangers about Jesus Christ, eaten Chicago pizza, walked around downtown Chicago, talked to more strangers about Jesus Christ, been more exhausted than probably ever before in my life, been hotter than ever before in my life, met my new companion, and moved to my new area. I know. Its insane.

So to break it down for you. After I talked to you, I got on the tiniest and most uncomfortable airplane ever and tried to sleep for three hours, but it didn't really work. After we arrived in O'Hare we were going down the escalator to to baggage claim when we were bombarded by people wearing name tags and taking pictures of us. These were the assistants to the president and President and Sister Doll were there as well. (Also- one of the assistants is from Grantsville and says he knows Gabby. His name is Jake Roberts, if that name is familiar to anyone.) We got our baggage, and then the president and his wife left and we got on the train with the assistants and were told to split up and talk to people. We were each given a Spanish and an English Book of Mormon and cards. I was terrified. But I sat by a really nice girl from Arizona who is on vacation with her family, and we had a really good talk. She didn't take the Book of Mormon, but that was okay, she was interested just didn't want to completely change. Maybe when she checks out (which she said she would) she'll realize that she doesn't have to change for the worst! She said she didn't want to leave Christ! Maybe she'll realize that thats the LAST thing we want. Once we got into the city we met the president and his wife at pizza, and the we left again for a tour of the city. While we were out and about we actually talked to someone who I did end up giving a Book of Mormon. It was really cool to see her really thinking about what I was saying and she really asked questions and was actually interested. It was amazing. She gave us her phone number, and took one of the Elder's contact information as well. After that ridiculously hot hot hot walk about the city we rode the train out to Downers Grove where the mission office and home is. We got instructions (and you package, but I haven't really had a chance to go through it.) We then went back to the mission home where we ate dinner, had interviews and went to bed. This morning we got up and went over to the stake center where we had more training and then met our trainers and found out where we're serving. My trainer is Hermana Summers from Bountiful. And I'm serving out in the sticks, Mom! Its actually a huge area, and we live in Rockford. Its something like 2 hours out of the city, and it includes a little bit of Wisconsin. Rockford is the area where my teacher Hermano Brown served for most of his mission. He is actually the one that started the Spanish branch out here and I'm super excited to meet all of the people he's been telling us about for the past two months. He is a celebrity out here. It sounds like he was the best missionary in the world and people fully expect him to become a general authority within a few years :). So I'm super lucky to be out here. Its still really surreal. And I don't feel like a missionary yet, because today all we've done is go to lunch with a member who was EXTREMELY chatty and a little bit of a gossip. :) And then we just went to the apartment and unloaded my luggage and headed to the community college where I'm emailing you. And tonight we have an appointment with an investigator! WOW!

I think that is the longest paragraph ever. But its how I feel like I would talk if could. Actually it would probably be one long run on sentence and I wouldn't breathe.

Also, I cannot express how hot it is out here. My hair has decided that it doesn't want to be straight anymore, but frizzy. And I don't think I will ever be dry again because of how sticky and sweaty I am. Like really. This is ridiculous. I am so glad I'm not in a bike area right now. Someone told me that the heat index is 110 degrees, and I'm pretty sure that I would probably die. Our apartment has air conditioning, which is the biggest blessing ever. Also, I have my own bathroom. As the member who we ate lunch with described it, we live in the Barbie Mansion. Its pretty nice. And I'm probably going to get spoiled and then moved to a dumpy old apartment. But I'll be here for at least the next 12 weeks for training!

Okay. Mail: send it to the mission office, which is the address you have. Packages: nothing perishable, as there is no guarantee how soon I'll get it because of how far out my area is, whenever the zone leaders go in they'll pick it up and bring it by for me.
Could you send me a copy of my call? Also, any and all conversion stories you have for our family. How did we become members? Both sides of the family, por favor.

So thats about all I've got for you now. I'll send you some pictures once I get them developed and buy more stamps. It was awesome talking to you yesterday! I wish we could have talked longer and I could have heard you better.

I'll let you know next week if I can actually speak Spanish or not, we've yet to see. :S


Hermana Shaelyn Brown

You can write to Shaelyn at the Mission home address:

Sister Shaelyn Brown
Illinois Chicago Mission
1319 Butterfield Rd, Suite 522
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Friday, July 15, 2011

Last Email from the MTC!!!


Querida Familia,

Last email from the MTC!!! I was basically terrified until last Sunday, but now I am just excited. I am so ready to go. My travel plans came last Friday night, and we are leaving the MTC bright and early Tuesday morning at 4 am and our flight leaves the SLC airport at 7:10. This means that I will most likely be calling around 6 am, so you better be ready. :) I hope this means that daddy can be there too though, but since I don't have a specific time that I know I will be calling don't have him wait for me. If he's not there I will try his cell and leave a message if he doesn't answer. :) The MTC president right now used to be a mission president in Chicago and we talked to him as well as our teacher who served in Chicago to try and get an idea of what might happen when we arrive. They both said that most likely on the train ride into the city (about 30 minutes) we'll contact and hand out a Book of Mormon, then we get REAL food, PIZZA, and a tour of the city. We'll go back to the mission home for training and interviews and such and in the morning meet our new companions! But since President Doll wasn't the president when my teacher first got there, it might be a little different. I'll let you know how it goes though, whenever my next p-day is.

Today we have in field orientation, but they gave those of us with p-days usually scheduled on fridays time to email, so today is all workshops basically. Its different, which is kind of nice. We get a p-day tomorrow to do laundry, and I'm probably going to do most of my packing then. That is also when I'll get any of my hand written letters out.

This past week has been pretty good. Like I said in my last email, we cleaned the temple last Friday. The elders had to scrub the kitchens but the sisters got to take apart, clean, and put back together the chandeliers in the big sealing rooms. It was really neat. I was actually a little disappointed when we got asked to clean the temple because it took up an extra hour of our p-day that I could have used to write letters or relax, but I'm really glad that we did get to, it was a great experience.

One down side to this past week is that one of the elders in our district ended up going home. He told us (my companionship) about a half hour before he left, and it turned into a really emotional night. After 8 weeks of being with someone almost all day every day, you either are going to hate them or really love them, and he was probably one of the elders that I felt like was one of my closest friends. He was also supposed to be going to Chicago, so its rough that he won't be going out with us. Hopefully he'll be able to make it back, he will be an awesome missionary if he does.

I got your package with the brownies in it yesterday! Thank you they are delicious! My roommates, companions, and the elders in our district also thank you. :) I'm glad everyone had a good time at girls camp! The picture I got looks like you guys were nice and grungy!! Also, the cook out up green canyon sounds awesome. I'm jealous, I wish I could do something like that. Or just eat food that wasn't here. SOON!!! And a trip to Mexico when I get back sounds pretty much like the best thing ever. Yes, Please.

Hailey: I met a couple of Elders this week who said they knew you. Elder Luke Patterson and Elder Justin Harris. I know you said not to embarrass you if I met anyone you know, but not to worry, when I found out they were from Logan and your age all I asked was if they knew you and they both went on about how awesome you were. Elder Patterson said you were friends in middle school and that you are awesome painter and really cool. Elder Harris said he did Colony with you and that were awesome. So yeah. My sister is famous, its whatevs. :P

I love you all!!! I'll talk to you Tuesday morning bright and early!!!

Les Quiero,

Hermana Brown

Sunday, July 10, 2011

El Districto Viejo


Buenos Días!

The early email today is due the a unique opportunity my district gets to clean the temple today. It will take a good 4 hours out of my p-day, so we got up early to do laundry, thus you are receiving a special early email as I wait for my clothes.

As usual, nothing is super exciting happened here this week. We did actually get to do an activity for the Fourth which was kind of fun. We had a special devotional Saturday night where we sang patriotic songs and had a speaker who has been an assistant to three US presidents (I don't know which ones.) After the devotional we watched the fireworks from the stadium of fire, Hermana Allred loved it, but I don't really care for fireworks and would have rather been able to go to bed on time. That weekend we did have a hot air balloon crash land on one of the buildings here at the MTC, which was pretty much the most exciting thing ever here.

Our district also got to be hosts this past week for the new missionaries. We were excited, but it wasn't really all we were hoping it to be. Mostly it was really hot outside and we were carrying luggage. Sisters don't do the curb, they just stand by one of the buildings and wait for elders to bring the new sisters to them. I am glad I didn't have to watch everyone say goodbye to their family, I think that would have been rough. We are supposed to be hosts again next week, but I'd really rather be in class. We only have one more week of class, and we're going to miss a lot of it. Our teacher recommended my companionship to participate in one of the activities for the new missionaries. On Wednesday when everyone comes in they have "investigators" that we will start teaching in front of the new missionaries, and then let them try to take over. Its a nice confidence boost that our teacher recommended us, but I'm not so sure how I feel about teaching in front of a bunch of people, and in English.

On the language front: things seem to be slowly progressing. One of our roommates told me that the other night I was sleep talking in Spanish, which is exciting, even if I probably wasn't making any sense. I am pretty resigned to the idea however, that despite how much I feel like I know now, I'm not going to be able to understand a single thing when I'm talking to native speakers going at normal speed.

My ankle is doing pretty well. I think you're thinking its worse than it is, Mom, no worries I can walk just fine. I just have a lot of scar tissue that is hindering my mobility and making it painful to move it beyond a certain point. It is also still weak, so it just gets tired and sore easily. I do have to still wear a brace. When I go to the physical therapist they put me in a whirlpool (which is basically the best place to study language ever,) I do exercises, and then the Physical Therapist works at breaking up the scar tissue. The breaking up of the scar tissue is ridiculously painful, I have scar tissue all the way up into the top of my calf, and today, the day after an appointment, my calf is nice and bruised. I probably will only have two more appointments though before I leave, so hopefully everthing will be good in Chicago. It is fun to go to the physical therapist though because it reminds us that there is actually a world outside of the MTC. We get to talk to REAL people! (Not that we're not real, we're just not. . . real.)

ELIZA!!! thank you for your letter, I loved the pictures. I just wish you had sent me a piece of that cake!! :P Because my P-day is cut short today I'm not sure if I'll be able to write you back today, but I'll try and if I don't get the chance I will try again next week.

So yeah. I leave really soon. The district just older than us left for Argentina this week, so we're el districto viejo. We were expecting our travel plans yesterday, but didn't get them. I was really hoping to have them before I emailed you, but I guess you'll just have to wait until next week for the details. I was wondering if you could send me a calling card for the airport though, you know, so I can call you or whatever. :D

I love you! I'm running out of time, but I hope everything is going well at home! Keep the letters coming, the long weekend was so sad without letters!

Les quiero much! besos y abrazos

Hermana Brown

Still smiling after 8 weeks in the MTC

Enjoying a Sunday afternoon


Provo Temple roses

Spanish is Coming Along

Everything is good here. Nothing too exciting. Last Friday's devotional was great. Elder Bednar spoke to us about being "Preach My Gospel" missionaries. He always gives such good talks.

Other news. . . Our roommates left for Indiana on Tuesday, and we got new ones on Wednesday. Another trio, all going to Chile. They seem nice enough. We also got a new district this week. All elders. One of the elders is from Logan. He says he knows Hailey. His name is Brad Summers. The only district that has been here longer than us is leaving Monday, so we'll be the "old" district, which is bizarre. We're going to miss all of the elders in the district thats leaving, they are great.

One of the elders in our district tore his ACL a couple of weeks ago, and he has to get surgery this next week. He is from Tahiti, so right now they've decided not to send him home for recovery, they are just going to keep him here at the MTC for an extra 6 weeks. I feel really bad for him, I think I'd go crazy if I had to stay here that long. I'm in danger of going crazy staying here for only 9 weeks.

Thank you for the package! It made my life. We had a mini fiesta in el cuarto de las otras hermanas last night with the snacks you sent.
No, I’m not forgetting English and throwing in random Spanish words, don’t worry. Las otras hermanas is what we call other hermanas in our zone. We are just hermanas. Not only have I love my first name, but pretty much my last name and identity as an individual as well. :P
So yeah, Everything is going well here. Spanish is coming along. I can usually understand what people are saying as long as they slow down for me, and sometimes it takes little bit to understand different accents. I know that as soon as I get out to Chicago I am just not going to be able to understand anything, but I don’t know how much more Spanish I’m going to learn here. I think I really just need to be thrown into it now.  Also, my grammar is just awful. So I’m pretty excited to get made fun of a lot.
Sorry life at the MTC so boring and I don’t have anything more to tell you (ar the time to do so.)
Les quiero,
Hermana Brown
PS sorry if this email is a jumbled mess. I didn’t have time to organize my thoughts.