Monday, February 24, 2014

#64 [La Venta - 24] Feb. 24th, 2014

Thanks for the update!! It's cool that Riss has such a cool assignment!! How fun. :) I hope she does well.

Interesting you mentioned the skeleton, I was talking to some elders about how mom wanted me to do that, and I had the desire to do it. Maybe I'll try it when I get back. Snow sounds nice :)

Also, Jeff told me that he had planned a rafting trip in June, and he'd be gone when I was home, so if he's in China or on the river, it don't matter. I won't see him for a long time either way :( My pal...

Well, I don't feel like writing much, so I will probably keep this short.

This week was good. We cleaned and cleaned all Monday, all of our free time Tuesday, and on Wednesday, we had our cleaning checks. We caulked, painted, and scrubbed. I had dreams about cleaning. We cleaned our rats poop and soap scum and even pond scum out of places that have probably never been touched. We seriously went all out. We even borrowed paintings and art from members to spice up our house haha. And it was all done in a spirit of competition, and a desire for a clean house. But let's be real— if it weren't for he competition, we would’ve passed the broom about and called it good.

But in the end, we WON! :) we beat the elders 98% to 96%. They brought us cookies today. The victory was sweeter then the cookies. Oh yes, :) we made the hermana cry when she left our house. It may have been the musical number we performed for her (brown-nosing? I think not); we claim it to be the house. She took pictures and said they were going to print them out and take them up to the pres. So... we're famous.

That was exciting, but the week got more exciting. Ever since Tuesday night, I haven't slept well. Like, I've been super cold, tossing and turning, miserable—no sleep, which results in no energy for the day. :( This happened all up until Saturday, but those days leading up to Saturday were miserable. I had no appetite, and I wasn't hungry, and I just slept during lunches and didn't really sleep. I had Inception dreams. Dreams within dreams. One time, Jeff and my feet were in a dream within a dream within a dream together. It was funny, but awful. Point of the story, no sleep. :)

I was stoked for Saturday, cuz on Friday night, I took sleeping pills. They did absolutely nothing, sadly. I woke up on Saturday and decided to go back to sleep. I ended up sleeping until 10 on accident, but I came out, and looked awful. I told the other hermanas, and they were like, "All of those symptoms are dengue symptoms." Dengue
I was super weak, my head hurt, my eyes hurt, I had a fever, I was way dizzy (had been since Tuesday), no appetite, and this weird rash that’s all over my body. (see pics, those are from yesterday, which were better than before) I felt so exhausted, so I went back to sleep. I woke up and expected it to be about lunch time, but it was 5!!!!! Man, I slept the day away!!!—which was nice. It was bad, cuz we also had a baptism at 5. Since I felt quite better, but still looked like a greaser, we went to the baptism. That's why I look AWFUL in the pics at the baptism, :( oh well. The baptism was nice, it was long (because the Branch pres. had to get a signature of approval from a parent), but nice. In the end, he was baptized by recent convert, and it was precious. :)

Sunday, I stayed home from church to try to sleep. All I have eaten since Friday night has been a sandwich the size of my fist and 5 oreo bombs, and some Gatorade. I'll eat more sometime. :) the rama missed me a lot at church. They announced my sickness over the pulpit, and food was brought. The sacrament was brought (I was in bed and didn't get it), and visitors passed by. I am going to miss this rama :( so much.

Sadly, I don't have much energy to pass by people and say bye, so I might have to forgo that.

Rash from dengue fever (a mosquito finally got her)

We had a lesson from ___ the other day. That went well. I looked like walking death, but they didn't mind.

Well, that's all. Sorry about this lame email. I feel better, but I should be better in a few days for sure. I love you all. Too bad the USA lost the Olympics. We never lose; darn. On the bright side, we won the cleaning check, :) yahoo. :)

Well, peace and love. Have a great week, fambam! Thanks for your love and support! :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

#63 [La Venta - 23] Feb. 17th, 2014

I enjoyed the email so much. It made me laugh.

Ok, so I have some big news. Like, BIG!

We had interviews on Tuesday, right? –right. Well, I asked Pres. about my release date, out of curiosity, and he was like, "You hit 18 months in June, right? Well, there wasn't a transfer in June, it was either May 20 or July 1....but, since there is a new pres. coming, and he is coming in June, there is going to be a transfer in June – June 17th or something." So I am coming home in JUNE!! :)) I am stoked, cuz before, I was kinda sad that I wouldn't be out for my whole 18 months. I felt like I was getting gypped off, and then he told me that there is gong to be a special transfer in June, and I am going to go home in June, with the mission pres, so that is exciting. Also, the transfer from April to May will only be four weeks, and then the one from June to August will be 8; then it will go back to normal!!!
BUT YEAH! I am excited. I feel good about it. With that being said, that means I have 3 more transfers, and so I will for sure probably get transferred this next week. Bitter-sweet for sure, but hey, no one knows. 

The rest of the interview went well. Apparently Azua will become a stake soon. It's cool cuz me and Hermana Gamez were the ones that kinda started it. They hadn't had a baptism for a year, and they had 9 priesthood holders. Then, we baptized 4, who converted their friends, and now there are 30+; so it's a miracle. Pres told me all about it and kept thanking me for the work we did. It was very humbling.
So I hit 14 months on Wednesday. I feel old, but yeah, 14! The same day that A__, a convert turned 35. So we went to his house and celebrated with a few members. But we went to E__s’ before, and he was like, "I have this suit, and I think it would fit you so well. My mom wants you to have it." And so he gave me a full-on PANT SUIT! — like, from the 80's. I might never wear it, but I sure can't ever get rid of it!! I have met his mother, like once, but she really likes me. She tells E__ to tell me that I am funny. She always laughs at my jokes. It's nice to know that I am a little funny in Spanish :) haha. But yeah, that explains my suit that I am wearing. It fits PERFECTLY!, even the pants. I don't know how, but yeah. Also, I think it was worn by his sister and has been sitting in his closet for 20+ years. Oh well, a gift is a gift. I love him so much :)

I found another skill this week. Mom, remember that one skirt that is super "Dominican" and colorful, with all sorts of designs on it, like shapes? Well, it's been stained. Most of the other things I own have not been (it's a miracle!), but anyways I decided to turn the stains into art, and I decorated it with sharpie marker. Now, I really like it. I thought about chucking it away, but now I really like it, haha. I also got platano on my white skirt, and I got that killer stain out. It's great, so far I haven’t thrown any of my clothes away; garments aside.
Good news, E__ GOT BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY!! :) and it was the BEST baptism I have ever been to. The spirit was so strong. Everything was perfect. She came, and was super nervous, and then we talked to her after, and she felt so great. I am so proud of her. I was nervous that she wouldn't go thru with it, but she did, and it felt so great to be one of the missionaries that helped her out. I love her so much, too. It's a crazy type of love that I feel for my converts. They have a special place in my heart. :)

It was cool, cuz we had a temple trip on Saturday too, and we took our converts and that was special. Then, all of the people from the trip went to the baptism, so a lot of people turned up. It was great! And to make it more of a party, the other hermanas had a baptism, too. :)

A__ didn’t end up getting dunked this last week, but he will on Saturday, “Si Dios Quiere,” which is what all Dominicans say here. I think all will go well with that. :) He's great. I am excited for him. It'll be a great experience :)

Oh gosh... so on Sunday, they asked me and my comp to teach primary. We thought it would be fine. NOPE! The WORST thing in my life. I am never having kids, at least not 20 at once, cuz that was hectic!!! We walk into the class, and there are like, 7 kids. We start singing and such, trying to keep their attention, and once it was lost, all “hell” broke loose; pardon my French :) But wow, I don't know what happened. And then, the hour was over, and I was excited, until they opened the door and put in 10 more kids, and were like, "Don't let them leave." And they shut the door!!!! ah!! And then, there were girls all around my head, trying to do my hair, children crawling all over us, and kids yelling, leaving, and going crazy. It was one of the craziest experience in my life. It was awful. So I took a picture, and that explains the pic I sent :) Kinda funny now, but living it was terrible. :/

So M__ is doing alright. She told us she would be baptized within 2 years. Darn. I think she'll change her mind. We told her to pray about a date, and let us know. She also wanted me and Hermana Peck to be there, so... she was wanting to wait until December, cuz me and Peck are returning for the sealing, but whatever. She's doing well. Her neighbor put a curse on her, and so she is having all sorts of financial trouble. Witchcraft is very real here, and it's scary. Speaking of scary things, to scare you, mom, a few ladies in our rama were mugged, and people keep telling us to be super careful at night, because people are getting kidnapped. Cool huh?

Well, that sums up the week. It was a good one. We're just excited about Wednesday, since we have cleaning checks, and we went all out to clean. (We are deep deep cleaning the house, and it's great. We're like, half way done. I just spent 2.5 hours on our tiny bathroom. We have cleaning checks on Wednesday, and an elder issued a challenge, so we're gonna dominate him.) :) I love you all, and I hope you have a great day. Remember to pray and read your scriptures!!! I love you and this gospel, so much!!! It has blessed my life in many, many ways. I love being a missionary :)

Well, that's all!! I love you so much!!!

Peace and blessings!!

-Hermana Erickson #1

Monday, February 10, 2014

#62 [La Venta - 22] Feb. 10th, 2014

Who knew?

Man, I am super happy today. I am usually happy, but today I am extra happy and hyper. I just got back from playing soccer, and that sport makes me giddy with excitement, and full of energy – energy to be used in this email. So get excited, or prepare yourself, this could get interesting.

This week was full of weird things, as in good things. I am going to tell you a little about my experiences, :) out of order, cuz this isn't school, and I can do that.

We had intercambios this last Tuesday, and I loved it so much. I went out with a hermana that leaves this transfer, and it was great. She mostly took over, and I liked that; hahah slacker, right? No, it was just nice.

Our numbers in this area are quite low, in all areas except recent converts. I firmly believe that if our converts are weak, they will turn into less actives really soon, and they'll kinda get angry with the church and become harder to get back, just like the Nephites in the Book of Mormon :) hehe Missionary Moment :) relating real life to the Book of Mormon :) BUT yeah, numbers don't mean anything. They are people, and we're doing our job, which is to help La Venta to be a missionary branch, so they can do the work on their own, and they are pretty close to accomplishing that meta. We're pretty much training them for the work :) I love it. :)

One of the recent converts paints pottery. She has let us help her, and it's service! I love it. It is the funnest service I have done, probably ever. I really like painting. You learn a lot about yourself on the mission. In all ways. For instance, I feel like my letters home are full of temporal things, and you hear about my adventures. Like I am only having fun. But believe me, I have had my share of fasting and praying and stressing out. But when I come to internet, those hard things don't really stick out in my brain. I think of the fun, happy moments, so that is the story you get. So I apologize that my emails are pretty... not missionary-like. Plus, I have a difficulty expressing spiritual things, so I just don't. I feel kinda bad reading letters from other missionaries, cuz they sound like the whole mission is spiritual, and it is, but I just figure you know that, so I tell you other stuff. Ugh, it's bugging me, but whatever!!! Sometimes I feel totally judged for not being super spiritual in my letters. But I am having fun, and I am so happy. I love being a missionary. It is so fun. Dad, is that a sacrilege? — If it's not, gophers in the cemetery definitely is!! haha

Speaking of other missionaries, I enjoyed getting Elder Farleys' letters in the Dear Elders. It was fun to read about how they are doing. Good guys. Make me proud. But, Spencer mentioned something about China, and how if it were to open, all of the 80,000 plus missionaries would have to go there. Which was an interesting comment, cuz they other day, like 3 weeks ago, I was having that EXACT conversation with my comp. We probably were talking about it at the same time!!! FARLEY CONNECTION! :)

Ok, now for some random things, and then I will talk about the work :) like investigators :) hehe

•    I bought a turban the other day it's just a headpiece that looks lie a turban. Almost got purple, but purple is the urple,,,, hahah and is the color of professor Quirrell's turban, and he was hiding Volde— I mean, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named underneath. So I got red. :) Cool, huh?

•    I got gripe (a cold) the other day cuz the temps dropped pretty drastically. As in, it went from like, 82 degrees to 78. And not only did I get the chills, but I got a cold! Lame, huh?! I have become so accustomed to the hot weather, that 78 feels chilly. I even wore a jacket outside and slept with a sheet! brrr....

•    So I have been trying to be happier lately. So I decided to walk around with a slight smile on my face, so I don't look like I am going to kill someone all the times. I thought I was doing something good, but then I checked in a reflection, and I looked like a chubby Asian! So I stopped that and decided to just smile for reals and say hi to everyone. That really helps, because people think we don't know Spanish and that we’re stuck-up, so when we say hello, they are more willing to talk to us and listen to the message we have. :) So story is, SAY HI TO EVERYONE!! :)

•    OH! our kitchen sink had a pretty gross clog for the past 2 weeks, and we tried putting drain unclogger in it. It was the cheap kind, so it didn't really work, which was sad. But on Saturday, I decided to use my plumbing skills, aka Super Mario Brothers, and I unscrewed one of the pipes and drained the water. GENIUS! But then, it gets better. I felt adventurous, and took the pipes apart! Out gushed old food, some brown goopy stuff, and some awful smells! :) BUT it turns out that all of those days playing Nintendo helped me out. The sink is now beautifully flowing. I reassembled it perfectly, all by myself, and bleached the parts :) SUCCESS! .....oh the things you do on the mission. I also convinced everyone in the house that I did plumbery before the mission... hehe :) I like new things like that. Being a plumber for a day made me want to be a lot of things for a day. Like, take a lot of classes and develop all of these cool skills.

The sink, before the love...
•    There is a super great bread here. It's called "0water bread" or Pan de Agua and I love it!!! I crave it all the time–like a prego lady! But I don't know why cuz it’s hard and tastes like cardboard, but I like it :) YUM!

Okay, now for investigators.

We have E__ this week, and she is getting baptized. I am stoked for her. She's a 13 year old girl, and shy, but I think it will be good. :)

M__ once again didn't come to church.

Mainly cuz her mom left and M__ didn't have a diaper to put her child in during church. He usually runs around naked, and just pees on the floor; not acceptable for church, so she didn't come. She's kinda losing animo for the church cuz of her financial problems, but it should get better. :)

The family we are teaching still didn’t come to church, darn.

A__ MIGHT get baptized this Saturday, too. He lives with J__, and is like, his gypsy brother. There is a Mormon gypsy gang in our ward, and it's great. Anyways, he is a part of that, and has been to church 5 times. Pres. wants him dunked this Saturday. We have yet to teach him, but he is ready. We have a cita tomorrow, and we'll teach him it all and see how we feel. He will be baptized either this Saturday, or the next :)

And... that is all of our progressing investigators. We need to find more. It's the pits, but God'll help us for sure :)

As you can see, this week was great. I love being a missionary. It's so rewarding and I love the people I get to meet :) I love my investigators. I love this rama. I love my converts. I love life, so much. I just have so much love :) I really am having the time of my life. It's so fun to be a representative of Christ. I love preaching and yeah, I cherish all of the moments. :)

OH! I go to teach RS on Sunday, and it went FANTASTICALLY! :) Turns out that I can do more in RS than decorate tables! Good to know... :)

Well, I love you all!!! I hope you have a great Valentines day! AND a big happy birthday to my cousin, Kasha Shaneequa Farley! on Saturday. I will be thinking of her at the baptism :) and to Louie, in France, on the 12th :)

Well, I love you all, and I hope you are all well!!! Thanks for your love and support. I can feel it through the hard times! Keep reading your scriptures and praying!!! I love you!!!!!

OX OX OX!!! (Princess Diaries inside joke)


Monday, February 3, 2014

#61 [La Venta - 21] Feb. 3rd, 2014

HELLO!!! :) FROM THE DR! I love this country so much. It is so great.

This week was not super hot in any way. It rained a few times, and I even felt cold a few times!!! It was probably 75 degrees, but I used my jackets and drank hot chocolate :) brrr. I think I will die at home - even in the summer!

But CONGRATS on the temple names!!! That is so great!!! If you want to tell me a few of them, I could do some here, with the converts!! That would be cool. I have looked for a few every once in a while here, but have had no luck. I am proud of you for helping with the work of salvation :)

So the RS pres. asked me to teach RS next week. I am pretty excited. It will be my biggest responsibility in RS since I was the RS DECORATOR!! :) This is a big step up! :) hahahah... what a.... calling. :/

On Saturday, we painted a house. We do a service every once in a while, and it always ends up being painting. People just paint their houses so much!!! I’m pretty much a pro at it, in case you were wondering. :) That is the pic I sent.

I might buy scripture cases, I have been wanting to for a bit, but I might actually do it. I will probably also buy a machete. :) or two. I just really like them.

Um... this week has been long!! Nothing has really happened! :/ We've had a lot of lessons with recent converts and we're trying to get them to work more with the missionary work. The branch pres. expects a lot from them. I am kind of surprised that we still have members. It's amazing what the people do here. :)

We have a baptism in a few weeks, she is a 14 year old girl, and she's great. I really like her. I am kinda worried about her, but I have faith that she'll be fine. I like her. E__ is her name.

M__ is doing well. I love her. We had a "tarde de helado" or an ice cream afternoon, with a member, and that went well. I think she'll get baptized soon. She still has to fix her temporal needs.

Hermana Olsen writes home about our investigators and the ward members, so if you want the lo down with them, you can read her blog – sisterkaitlinolsen, I believe. She is also sending my link to her mom, so ... :)

Some more news about my life is that we once again have mice, so that's too bad. I have a whole month of showering, so that's good. My piano skills are actually getting better-hymn wise, so that's also good. We are healthy here, and that's good. :)

Yep, that was my week. We are looking for more people to teach and just loving paradise. I love being a missionary; it is so rewarding. Sometimes, the days are terrible, but then we get home, exhausted, and feel like it was a great day. Like, the other day, we had no lessons. They all fell through, and it was super rough. But we had the thought to go Y__'s house. She's a member and her hubby is not. She doesn't have her endowment, but we talked about it, and she said that she randomly thought about it earlier, and that she's been feeling empty and not strong, and we talked to her and she cried and now wants to get her endowment. :) It was super spiritual. God works through us, and it's so fun to see that. It's really humbling. :)

Oh, today is a slow p-day, as in we have nothing to do. So I laid in bed and listened to Saturday's warrior. Reminds me of mom and dad's wedding video, and the family. I love that movie. It'll probably be one of the first movies I watch. :) haha

Anyways, sorry for this lame letter. I seem to be sending lame letters lately. I apologize. life is just... sometimes blah, oh well. I love you all and hope you are well and happy and healthy and doing well in school and life and work!!!! Be happy and remember, I LOVE YOU!...yes, I was quoting Barney!!! :) YAY!!

Peace and blessings,

Hermana Erickson #1