Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Don Jew Lob Bicycles?

Hey everyone:

It was so much fun to talk to you guys on Christmas! I know I know, I'm weirdo goober, lilt-in-the-voice missionary now. Quit judging me sarah! haha jk. That was crazy for me! Next time, I'm not going to do so much talking. I want to know what you're all up to!

This past week marks a new chapter in the Becca-as-a-missionary experience. I got a bike! And we rode it! haha. I took the ugliest picture you've ever seen (and you'll probably never see it because my face looks fat - it's hard when you have a helmet strap cutting into your double-chin!) with my helmet and my bike and my skirt. What an experience! I can't help but laugh at us as we ride along. We've got nylons on, skirts flying up to show more than a little thigh, and fat grandma ankles pedaling wildly in our orthopedic shoes. (is orthopedic the right word? substitute the correct one, if not) I finally couldn't help myself any longer and I started humming the wicked witch of the west theme song to my companion. Something about biking in a long black skirt that brought that to mind...too bad she doesn't wear a helmet. But I actually really enjoy riding. It's good to get the blood pumping.

Christmas was really fun here in the mission field. I have so much candy in my apartment right now! Thanks so much. And Jessica/MaryJane: those headbands are the cutest things I've ever seen. I'm so spoiled!

My companion and I get along really well. We're pretty different, but both pretty easy-going so it works out. Our biggest difference is probably our life-living pace. She likes to live life at a very slow pace, and I'm pretty much living on fast forward. So that has been a huge adjustment for me and frustrating a little bit at times. But it has been good for me too. She's helping me not die of a heart-attack or something from pushing it too hard out here. And she's very complimentary all the time and positive, which I really appreciate.

The language is. . . coming. I had my first experience translating last night! The recent convert we were teaching asked us to stay and translate for him because some guy came to collect money from him. It was so weird! I was so dumb because at first I turned to the recent convert and started repeating what the store guy had said in english again! haha I felt pretty stupid but then I figured it out. I just felt so silly repeating such simple phrases. I felt like they could understand the other language and I was just being redundant. I don't think my bilinguality has hit me yet. (yes, that's a word now)

Well a mission has ups and downs and I think I had one of the most traumatic experiences of my life this week. Our investigator Martha and her daughter Amy didn't show up for church. I was pretty disappointed because I had arranged a ride for them with a member and everything (and when you're trying to do that in spanish, it's a huge effort, believe me. ) but Martha called us after church and she told me that her boyfriend had hit her and she was embarrassed because her face was ugly. Then she started bawling on the phone and saying a bunch of stuff that I couldn't understand but I got that she wanted us to come visit her so I took a Sister from the ward because I wanted to make sure we could communicate clearly. When she walked out of her bedroom I just about fell to the floor. I've never seen anything like that. Her face was black and blue and she had huge bruises going across her throat and up and down her arms, hands, and legs. Her boyfriend didn't just hit her, he just about killed her. She was hospitalized and everything. I couldn't even look at her without wanting to throw up at the thought that someone could do that to someone else. I'm so grateful for the men in my life! I'm so glad that I trust them, and that they protect me. I've never really thought about it but that is a huge blessing. And I think it was also a huge blessing that I brought the sister that I did. She was awesome and did most of the talking for us. I was pretty much at a loss for words. She told us after that she's never seen domestic violence that bad. ugh. Maybe I shouldn't write about it - I don't like thinking about it. The good thing is, she said she knew we would bring her peace. And I think we did. Hopefully with him gone she will be able to progress faster.

Anyways, Horacio is doing awesome and trying to study a lot so he'll be prepared for the Priesthood. I think he's a little overwhelmed at that thought. He'll be great. You could add Marisol to your prayers. She's all of a sudden progressing really quickly. She's single and her kids are in Honduras? or El Salvador I can't remember. But she used to be battling with depression until she started coming to church with us. She's made a lot of friends and she knows she's on the right "camino" (everyone uses that phrase here. I don't know why, but it makes me laugh. it just seems overly-dramatic to my english brain.) But I hope she realizes that this is the ONLY right camino.

I hope you are all safe and enjoying your Christmas vacation and you should all make lots of noise for me on New Years! (I told my companion we were going to stay up for it and she said not a chance and I actually agree with her. I'm so tired all the time! haha not worth it.)

I love love LOVE you all!

love Becca

p.s. nobody asked me to speak any spanish on the phone. What is this? Don jew guys lob my language or notteeng? Dis leetle guy right here. He is. . . (not appropriate for missionary e-mail). haha love you!

Pictures! (Thanksgiving 09)

Thanksgiving at Hna. Ramirez's house!

All the sisters on sister's day at the mission home,

My bedroom

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mmm menundo...

Hello hello!

Guess what, I’m teaching a piano class for anyone that wants to come (which is like everyone) and I’m teaching it in SPANISH. Tonight is the first time I’m doing it so wish me luck. Everyone is way excited about it but I’m so nervous! It should be interesting. I never realized what a privilege it is to play an instrument. I’m the only pianist like I said before. So I’m also playing for the stake Christmas program. Ahh!

A couple thoughts on Pasadena: This is a city of strange smells. Mostly a vague, rotten egg/ old garbage smell that wafts our way from the lovely refinery that belches poisonous clouds day and night into our Pasadena air. Also, we’re a city of many cats. Homeless cats. And dogs (one tried attacking me and my companion on our morning run yesterday- you laugh about it now but that was one shot of pure adrenaline I’ll tell you!) and roosters. Yes. Roosters. They walk around on people’s lawns. Another interesting Pasadena fact is that lots of the people here speak mostly Spanish, but since they live in the U.S. they pick up some English so there’s often an interesting mix and you’d think I’d be used to it but it still never fails to surprise and delight me when I’m focusing all my energy on what someone is saying and then out of nowhere I hear a word like “microwave” but it’s in a thick Spanish accent. It’s really funny. And strange the way they can move in and out like they don’t even notice they’re switching languages sometimes. I think this whole learning a new language experience is fascinating. I never realized how much I love English. I take it for granted that I can use it so easily. And I never realized that a Language Barrier is a REAL thing. In a physical way. Even when I use correct Spanish and when I understand what someone says, it doesn’t hit me the same way English does. I can read a scripture in Spanish and then in English and understand them both, but the English carries emotion with it. I think that’s why it’s so important that we teach people in their own language, even if they understand English. Communication is SO much more than mere comprehension.

ANWAYS…English major, sorry. This week, the highlight of the week (or lowlight, depending on how you look at it) was eating menudo for the first time! I’d heard the word a lot and knew it was a food but started to wonder what was up when my companion wanted to take my picture before we started eating. She said I had to have it on record. I looked down into my bowl and in a red broth I saw large grey chunks of meat that had a weird texture to them… kindof like looking at a tongue. But the other side was completely smooth. Anyone guess what it was yet? Cow Stomach. That’s right. I put another creature’s stomach into my own. And it was in BIG chunks. Like bigger than my tongue. And it was all slimy and impossible to bite through. You just had to kinda rubber it down. Probably one of the worst experiences of my life. It tasted like warm blood. And to top it off, there were bones in the soup and slices of bread that you scrape out the marrow and put on the bread. Mmmmmm. I don’t know…I’m thinking of taking back everything I said before about the food here being so great. I thought eating pig skin was bad but this was WAY WAY WAY worse. I think it’s funny now but there was a moment at the table where I experienced pure desperation. I was wondering if it would be more polite to leave food in my bowl or finish it and throw up all over her table! I ate as much as I could and then snuck to her kitchen while she wasn’t looking and threw the last bit away. But I couldn’t get that taste out of my mouth all day and I wanted to separate myself from my own stomach because the thought of it in there was grossing me out. Haha. Sick.

Okay You said you wanted to hear about investigators and I don’t know if you really do or not but I”ll tell you about Horacio. Background: my companion gets really REALLY nervous to contact people, but one day she was getting out of the car and she saw this guy coming past the car on her side and she started thinking she should contact him but then she thought “no, I’m still gathering my stuff, plus he looks way catholic…” and stuff like that. But then she just went for it anyways and it was a really awkward contact because she had to kinda chase him down but he was way interested and she ended up teaching him the first lesson right there in the street. (this was right before I got out) So we’ve been teaching him ever since. He’s about forty five, grey hair, half of one of his front teeth is missing (in a vertical way), and he is very animated. He’s so funny. He always tells these crazy stories and he asks questions about EVERYTHING. But he has been to church a bunch of times and he got mad at us last Sunday for not telling him about the Christmas Devotional, so he came to that too. Last night, we went to teach him and he told us he’s in 2nd Nephi and then he started going back and reading scriptures that he liked and basically started teaching US. Haha. But I looked over at his Book of Mormon and it was all marked up! That was really cool to see. He is nervous to get baptized because he’s a really deliberate person and it’s only been a few weeks but we set the 19th of dec. as a goal (brooke’s wedding day!) so we’ll see how it goes. He’s fun to take to church because he always makes funny comments. I like teaching him too because he talks to me a lot. Lots of people we teach kinda ignore me because hna flores is native, but he really connected with me. He teases me too- he said he wants to hear a concert because he loves classical music. Haha.

Another family I’ve really connected with is Hna. Ponce. She feeds us every Wednesday night and she’s an amazing cook. The problem is, she loves to see us eat so we always leave stuffed sick. Seriously though, I’ve never had pain like that from eating so much. I couldn’t sleep last week so tonight I’m going to try to cut back. She is a recently reactivated member and she gives great hugs. She and her daughter Issa (37 ish) are the ones we interact with the most. But they just took me in…I dunno how to explain it. She always smells good and her house is CLEAN. I just feel comfortable there, which is rare in Pasadena – so many of the houses are just…not clean.

Anways, there’s a taste of who I’m seeing every day. I’ll save the rest for some other e-mails. You didn’t send me any questions this week but hopefully that fills you in a little. Oh one other thing, I LOVE my companion but I think it’s a terrible thing to put a dying missionary with a greenie! She’s going home in a week and half and it’s so hard to hear and think about that all the time. Start praying for me though, because this next transfer is going to be a big one. We lose five of ten hermanas and we get five new!

Thanks so much for all your love and support. I love hearing from you guys. Sorry I can’t write back as much as I’d like to. But I like to think about you guys on Briarcreek Drive (and solar circle, callm down sarah) doing all your usual christmasy things. It’s a happy thought. I’m there with you in spirit! And I’m having fun here listening to mo-tab Christmas music. We’re getting Handel’s Messiah down pretty well by now. I can sing pretty high when I sacrifice quality. Haha Take care! I love you all! And in a cheesy missionary way, I’m so glad we’re going to be together longer than just this life – I’m so glad we all are fighting for that, because some people don’t care enough to fight for it. But I CARE. I love you guys! Miss you

Friday, December 4, 2009

Good food, Better People

Hello Family!

First off, I'm sorry about last week - we had a temple trip on Wed, then the library was closed thursday and friday for Thanksgiving...then Saturday and Sunday it was closed for the weekend. So I did my best to stay in contact. But I want to hear all about Thanksgiving! How did everything go? Thanks for all your letters. You guys are the best.

I'll start off by answering questions:

Things are really good with Hna. Flores. (Nelssie is her first name) She is really cute and AMAZING at soccer. All the Elders are scared of her becuase she kicks trash on p-day when we all get together to play. She's a lot like me in that she isn't really aggressive when it comes to talking to strangers, so we have to really push each other when we go tracting or contacting, but it's nice because she's really understanding when I get nervous. She grew up in Mexico with an older brother and a younger brother and went to UVU for a year or two before coming out here. She was majoring in culinary arts so she's an amazing chef, but so far we haven't had time to cook anything. She said that's probably a good thing though, because we have terrible knives and she would just get frustrated. She makes a lot of the decisions because I don't know what's going on but I feel totally comfortable putting in my two cents if I ever have any. We work until nine but we try to get appointments at night so that we're not tracting. So far I haven't ever knocked a door after dinner time. Last night we had mexican gorditas, which was a homemade corn tortilla thing (a little thicker) with cheese melted on top and salsa on top of that. And everything is always served with rice and beans and tortillas on the side. We don't use utensils. You're going to think I've become an animal when I get home. Everything is with your fingers and a rolled up tortilla. haha. OUr apartment is two rooms and a kitchen. And a bathroom I guess. It's pretty dumpy. haha. old old old furniture, dirty gray carpet. really basic. I'll send pictures next week. We have a huge board on the wall with John 3:16 on it and all the missionaries who have lived there sign it so it's cool to see Elder Flamm and Elder Matheson's names. We also have a huge whiteboard where we write the names/addresses of our investigators - color coded according to location. So we're way cool. And we have a huge map of the area which I stand and stare at every day but never get any better at finding my way around. We have a couch and an armchair and as of a couple days ago we also have a four foot tall bright pink christmas tree! Feliz Navidad. We associate with the elders in our district the most. They need rides from us a lot. hah. We have district meeting once a week and our district leader calls us every night. P day we clean, grocery shop, do laundry, e-mail at the library here in pasadena, then get together at a chapel with our zone and do sports/write letters. It ends at six but we go to dinner at Hermana Ponce's house; she feeds us until we want to throw up! But she's an amazing cook.

Here's a little taste of memorable Pasadena: we work a lot in apartment buildings, and they all have the same layout by the way so it's impossible to know where I am. haha. but we are teaching a mom named Martha and her daughter Amy. They actually have a baptismal date so if Martha can get off coffee we can get them baptized! But we were teaching one night and we heard this weird noise so we asked Marth if she was alone and she said yes then walked over into the kitchen to investigate. She looked into her garbage (in pasadena it's just a huge paper sack that the city comes and collects) and then said, oh it's just a cockroach! And pulled a four inch cockroach out of the garbage! oh my gosh. My companion just about went backwards up the wall. It was the grossest thing. And then she just dropped it by the garbage can and let it crawl around for the rest of the lesson! I ccouldn't focus at all.

So far, our baptisms keep falling through. Well, at least getting pushed back over and over. But we went to a baptism for a girl in the ward and an investigator of our district leader. The investigator had to get baptized seven times because her dress kept coming up! haha. But we had a family there who is also investigating so that was kinda crazy for us...they had some questions afterwards, haha but I think we explained things. Hopefully we will get an investigator baptized this next week. Her name is Luz and she's been investigating since June so my companion is really wanting to see her get baptized.

I had to give a testimony in sacrament meeting! I was way nervous to speak in churhc. That was crazy. Luckily, I had some time to prepare so I wrote it out. haha. cheater I know but come on that's way scary. Everyone was way nice though. They all complemented me on my accent. I'm talking more now so that's a good thing. My spanish is still so pathetic but it will come. It better. haha I'm certainly praying a lot.

okay i'm sorry I feel like this wasn't a great e-mail. I"m too rushed. I"ll finish with letting you know that Thanksgiving was way fun for me. We ate two dinners with two different member families (we canceled our third dinner because we felt too sick to stuff any more food into our poor stomachs) But the first dinner was with Hna. ramirez and her daughter Diana. They live in our complex and they invited the other elders in our district over too so it was a party. We had turkey and mashed potatoes and green beans and rolls. Then we went to Hna. Ponce's and had the same, with Mexican stuffing and peach cobbler mexican style and rice milk? I don't know what to call it - arroz con leche. it was good but it was a lot of food! haha. AMazing how these people litterally open their arms and take you in to their homes and hearts though.

I miss you and I love you and I think about you all the time!

love love love Becca

xoxoxoxox chancho...I need to borrow some...esweats!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Okay I don't have much time right now but my companion said we'll come back and do e-mails tomorrow. she just had to check something so I thought I'd let you know that I landed safely, that I am with a great companion and I loved getting to know my Mission President, that my pday is on wednesday but since yesterday was veteran's day, all the libraries were closed so they didn't get to do their e-mail, which is why we'll do it tomorrow. Yesterday was a long day but today I'm doing much better- we already taught two lessons this morning! My companion is named Hermana Flores and she's from Mexico. Okay I dont' know how much time I have but I'll start at the beginning and stop when she says we have to go so you might have a cliff-hanger but I"ll finish tomorrow.

After I got off the phone yesterday, we went and boarded the plane. Except the elder from my district, Elder Bench, didn't get on! he was still on the phone with his family i guess- so he ended up missing the flight. So that was scary/weird but he came in on the next flight. I want to talk to him and see how that happened. Anyways our Mission President was right there iwth his wife and APs to meet us! That was why I couldn't call...I"m sorry. But they gave us hugs/handshakes and seemed so excited to meet us. We got all our bags loaded up into vans and then the President had the sisters go in the van with him and we all drove to get some texas barbeque! It was so yummy. And i was SO hungry! It's about seventy or seventy five degrees here - it's so weird, it feels like spring! But it's beautiful- really green, kinda like dc. NO MOUNTAINS though! AFter the barbeque, we went to the mission home which is huge and beautiful, and we took pictures and had interviews with the president - he just told me how much he loved me and welcome home! he said you're home for the holidays- just in time. And said that if I ever needed anything he would be happy to help- he said he was the dad of the mission (then he said that the brethren tell him not to say that but he watned me to know that he loved me). As a gruop, we tlaked about keeping our apartments clean (cockroaches! ahhh) and safety driving...all the boring stuff. One elder fell asleep and he was drooling all over his tie. haha. Then they brought our companions to meet us which was way intense! I could see that only two were hermanas so that narrowed it down. Both were really pretty but one was gringa and the other native. I obviously got the native, seeing as I told you she's from mexico! Which is going to be a huge blessing for me because she'll help me with my spanish- but she speaks really good english too. and she wants to run every day! haha so we're a good match. She is a really good missinoary. It's kindof intimidating, but she has a lot of confidence in me too so that helps. We live alone in a little apartment in Pasadena! so weird. haha I can't believe I'm actually here. It's weird to have everyone leave and it's just the two of us. The church puts a lot of trust in their missionaries. But after our meeting at the mission home, we went to the mission office to pick up the new bikes (mine is still in storage but brother stelse said he can tell why dad is a bishop and he feels like he bonded with me through talking to him. he said he'll take care of me- thanks so much dad! I got the helmet and lock and everything. Love you) And then we ran to the church to drop off a book of mormon to the ward mission leader, who was baptized a year ago. he spoke really fast but it was fun to meet him. h. Flores said all the members are really excited to meet me. I think this might be her last transfer of her mission- she wouldn't say exactly but I think it is. Okay so then we finally went home and did planning for today and I couldn't believe how many lessons she had planned! Two this morning and more this afternoon. But she showed me this huge board they have on the wall that they write all the investigators names on and there were a bunch at the bottom (contacts and referrals) a few in the middle (progressing investigators) and four at the top (baptismal dates!) So that was exciting. I didn't realize how many people you teach at once. It's confusing but I think I'll figure it out. It helps to put a face to the names. Then I just unpacked and got things looking homey. It's way better than the MTC dorms. haha our apt. is pretty dingey but not too much worse than DC. okay maybe a little. haha. but I feel fine walking around in bare feet! Then I went to bed and to be honest, I was thinking "what the heck am I doing here. WHY did I want to serve a mission again?" It was really scary. My companion seemed to know so much and to love the work so much and I just felt like I was nothing like that. I"m still way nervous but this morning helped me a lot.

okay i've got to go but I"ll write more tomorrow if I can. forward this to jess, i can't remember her address. and spence!

love you


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First Week in the MTC

Okay i've got only a little time left but hola! It's so fun to finally be writing you. I was so excited for p-day but now I'm realizing it is going to be the most stressful day of all! so much to do and so little time. Mom wanted to hear about my first day and my daily schedule so that's what this email is about.

Okay first day: So you saw me walk off with the elders, who took me to a buch of sisters who cheered as I walked through (zoobie? . . . maybe a little. but it was nice. I was excited too) Then I don't really remember what happened. haah I do but it was just confusing- they had a host sister (who is a missionary who has been here a few weeks) take me to my room to drop off my bags and then they sent me to pick up my tag and get tested for language skills. The guy that tested me started out really easy. It was kinda funny. he was talking so slow and clear and simple. But then it got harder, but I understood and was able to respond to everything. After he tested me, he said you only got one question wrong... Do you cheer for BYU or UT? haha because I said UTES por supuesto. (of course) and he was a Y fan.

I"ll only be here in the MTC until the tenth of Nov! Kinda sad, but kinda nice too. After that, they took me to my classroom to meet my district and my teacher, who immediately said that he knew sarah. Okay so then they took me to get my companions. I'm in a threesome with two latinas. They speak kinda fast but it has been awesome for helping me improve my listening and understanding skills. Hermana Mogollon kept saying how glad she was to be there and how she couldn't believe we were actually here! I felt the same. We went as a district to an "orientation" meeting, which didn't orient me to anything, just gave some encouragement about being a good missionary. Everything has been so confusing just trying to get the system figured out but it's coming. I sat by an elder in my district named Basset, who is also white (one of the three!) and we get a long really well. He's a musician with a beautiful voice. He's really nice.

After that, I got to go unpack my stuff. My companions and I get a long really well. I told sarah I feel like i live in Nacho Libre land because some of the missionaries in my district ahve really strong accents. I start laughing whenever we speak english and then they say "why are jew laffin?" and it makes me laugh harder. But they make fun of my spanish too so we're even. Acutally theyr'e all really patient with me. THey always compliment me too. When they introduce me to anyone thye always say how good my sspanish is. haha. The elders are such gentlemen! They always carry our trays for us and stand up when we get to the table. The other day I kept standing up and sitting down over and over so they had to keep doing that too and it took a while but they finally caught on and all laughed pretty hard. We laugh a lot. I thinkw e need to be more serious sometimes but it is a really good thing to laugh too. That first night, after unpacking, we had a large group meeting with other missionaries where we were able to "listen in" on a meeting between an investigator and two "missionaries" and they would pause the discussion and allow us to ask questions and talk to us about teaching. It was really interesting, but also very intimidating becuase the style of teaching is so ...freestyle. They don't have set words to say or anthing, they just want us to get to know the person adn help them feel the spirit. SO HARD. I dont' know if I"ll ever get it but I want to so bad.

I have teachers that were really good missionaries and they are a good resource for me, but there just aren't direct answers to my questions sometimes. and put the spanish factor in there and i'm pretty much floundering, but I can tell that it willg et easier. I think it is one of those things that you have to learn through experience, so the first couple times you teach are just miserable and then it gets better. I can already tell i'm improving. Just a little. haha.

As far as scheduling goes, each day is a little different. We have an hour of personal study, one of companionship study, and one of language study (For me at least...for the others, they just do preach my gospel study) Then we have at least five or six hours of class time each day where a teacher is actually int he room teaching us. Brother Adams is our teacher but then we also have Hermana Ampuno and she is from Ecuador and doesn't speak english very well but speaks spanish REALLY well with an ecuadorian accent! So she's hard to follow but she's amazing as a teacher. She's what the elders call "anal" becuase she's really strict, but brother adams makes up for that. Then, we have devotionals, large group meetings, and other things where we meet with missionaries from other districts each day as well. I feel like I am always in the cafeteria because the day goes by so fast! I don't have time to breath until I sit down to eat and then I"m eating again. And then I'm falling asleep. And I'm having trouble falling asleep because it's so early and I have so many things on my mind but I'm so tired, I think that wil change soon. Today we went to the temple because it was p-day. It was so funt o be in the temple with my district. Missionary work is really. . . intimate. I know we've only been together a few days but I love these missionaries like they are my blood family. You get to know eachother on a personal level really fast. I've seen lots of people I know!

There is an elder in my district going to houston east with me named Elder Bench and he is great. He's really shy but he stood up to bear his testimony when we met witht he branch presidency and he started shaking and crying and I thought he was going to say he was homesick but he finally said "this gospel means EVERYTHING to me". I've never heard someone bear such strong testimony. I'll never forget the way "everything" sounded. Many of the missionaries in my district are converts so they have such a strong conviction of the truth of the restoration. I'm so lucky to be around that. I'll send you pictures so you can get to know them. okay i'm out of time and I don't want it to erase what I wrote so i'm going to send it but I love you all and I miss you!

love Becca