Saturday, September 12, 2009

End of week 2 already?!

These weeks have flown by! I feel like I don't have anything new to write about. That's why I need good questions when you send me emails and letters so that I can respond to those. Luckily I do keep a list in my planner of things that I think of during the week that I want to write about.

First of all, even though I love my mission and my mission call and my area and everything, that doesn't stop Arizona from being one of the ugliest places I've been! There is literally no grass, except for in parks and at the temple. Everyone's yards are made of rocks. And even worse, guess what I saw yesterday - rocks painted green! There were even some "yards" where all the rocks were glued down and painted green. There are some areas of Mesa where I feel like I'm in the middle of Mexico, and there are others (the ones with the astrorock yards) that make me feel like I'm back in the 50s. But I still love it. I am already used to the heat, and it really isn't near as hot as I thought it would be, but maybe that's because it isn't humid. In fact, some of the natives were complaining about how humid it had been last week, and I didn't even feel it. But there have been thunderstorms 5 times since I've gotten here. I tell all our members that I must have brought them from Georgia with me when they comment on how it hasn't rained in a long time.
I have another small world story for you all. The former VC directors came in last week to visit and see some of the changes that have been made and they too lived in DC and was in the stake under Grandpa Ladd, and therefore knew the Ladds and the Coltons. His name is Elder Peterson, and I didn't get his first name.

I don't feel like I have very many stories this week. Everything that was happening last week is still happening. We are still waiting to see if the Mestre's can get married and Eliseo is still in the hospital and we haven't been able to get a hold of Mirna to ask how he is doing. One of our investigators, an 11 year old, decided that I look like Bella from Twilight which of course is her favorite movie, so I am her new favorite person. Now if only she would understand that she needs to go to church more... Speaking of favorites, we have a member from El Salvador and when we went to go visit her on Friday I told her how I used to live in Honduras and that papusas were my very favorite Hispanic food so when we went over for lunch yesterday she made us some. Yep, still my very favorite Hispanic food. But just goes to show again and again how kind all of the members are. I feel like I've found my niche in the branch now, so I'm glad that happened quickly. Hna. Mestre was saying on Sunday that she had gotten in touch with the sister that had just left over the internet and told her that even though she missed them a lot they didn't miss her nearly as much because they had a new sister missionary in the branch. I thought that was really nice. I am Hna. Blades' first gringa companion, which is good for both of us, because she speaks the language really well which helps me, and when we are in lessons if I don't understand something she has to answer, when previously she had had natives that always understood so she could take a back seat on some of the harder questions, so we are both learning from each other.

We had our first zone conference yesterday which was amazing! Pres. Bassett knows the scriptures so well and finds some of the most obsure stories that seem like they were written purely so that he could use them to teach certain points. Our mission is really accelerating the work, which is great but means that we have to keep working even harder. Elders Bednar, Perry, and Ballard have all come and told us things to do specific to the mission. Elder Ballard said we need to be teaching 20 lessons a week, and I think Elder Perry was the one that said we need to be talking to at least 140 people "by the way." That is the hardest one for most of the missionaries, because it is really hard to just go up and talk to random people. And in a car it is even harder, because whenever we see someone we stop the car, get out, and go talk to them. But it is amazing that if you are obedient in talking to everyone you see then the Lord will place a lot of people in your path. The English speakers are the hardest. Some of them are so mean! I don't see the need for being rude even if you don't want to listen. We had a really condescending one the other day, calling us kids and saying we just didn't understand the world today. It is really hard for me to keep my mouth closed and be polite rather than explaining that I probably had a higher education than he did and had a far better understanding of the world, even though I was a "kid". But I did, because we don't want to lower ourselves to their level, but bring them up to ours. Hna. Blades was getting really frustrated too, because he told us he belonged to a church but siad that he didn't go that often, because he put more important things first, like work. She kindly shared that Jesus taught to put the kingdom of God first but that's when he got into the "you kids just don't understand." I thought (but kept in my head) "you must not have ever learned anything those few times you made it to church. We get a lot like that, but even that one had some good things. The day before we were talking to some high school kids down the street and one of them had made the comment "they must be paying you a lot to do this." We explained that we weren't paid but that we and our families had to pay for us to do this. He was impressed by that. Well the next day when we were talking to the other man it was raining and the high schooler drove by and said "what are you girls doing out here, it's raining!" We just told him "so what, we work in the rain too." He was really impressed by that and thought it was "awesome" so I hope at least some seeds were planted there. We love talking to nice people, at least it helps us get out of the car faster the next time we see someone and pull over, whereas after the meaner ones it is really a struggle to want to talk to more people.

So here is probably my most exciting and most terrifying story for the week. The other night in the VC some elders from the Tempe mission were there and talking to some of us right after they finished a lesson. They came up and said "we were told to ask here if there was a sister who spoke Arabic." There were four of us in the front and all of them looked at me and said she does. I had to back pedal for them and say "I studied it but can't really speak it any more." After asking why they told us that there was a Syrian man in their mission who has read the Book of Mormon 4 times already, knows it is true, and wants to be baptized. However, once you are past the age of eight you can't be baptized without being taught the lessons by the missionaries. And this man doesn't speak very good English so they need someone who can speak Arabic. I gave them all of the Arabic materials we have (Elder Burke asked my to be in charge of organizing our language materials, because there is a ton! So I knew where it was and what it was) and I told the elders that if they needed me to teach him then to call the VC and the Lord would have to help me relearn enough Arabic to teach him. They haven't called us back yet, but I've started using all the Arabic materials we have to try and relearn it. I really wish I had kept it up. I honestly never thought that I would need to speak Arabic on my mission, Russian maybe, but not Arabic, and yet the day comes and it is the language that I can't teach in that the Lord might need me in. (Side note for mom, can you find my Arabic books and send them to me so I can relearn more. I don't know where they are, and if they aren't at home then they are at grandma's, and I don't know which box, because again, not expecting to use it for 18 months. Also, if there is an Arabic Preach My Gospel could you find out and send it to me?) So that was my humbling experience for the week. If I really do end up helping them to teach this man then that will be even more humbling because it will have to be all the Lord. Luckily the church has so many great materials. 3 of the 5 lessons are printed in pamphlets for investigators so I could teach him out of those, and Preach My Gospel has all the references I would need for scriptures in the other lessons, so it would be a lesson completely out of the scriptures.

On the topic of languages here is the list of all the languages that we have the Book of Mormon in. It would be great if Erin or Ky or Jake or Mom could look them up and email me back with where each of them are spoken (I think it would be a fun project for Piggy). We have other materials such as the Family Proclamation and the Living Christ in other languages too.
Afrikaans, Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Aymara, Bengali, Bulgarian, Cambodian, Catalan, Cebuano, Chinese, Croation, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Efik, English, Estonian, Fante, Fijian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Haitian, Hawaiian, Hiligaynon, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Icelandic, Igbo, Ilkano, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Kekchi, Kiribati, Korean, Laotian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malagasy, Maori, Marshallese, Maya, Mongolian, Navajo, Neomelanesian, Niuean, Norwegian, Palauan, Papiamento, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Rarotongan, Romanian, Samoan, Russian, Shona, Sinhala, Slovenian, Swahili, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Tahitian, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tongan, Tswana, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Welsh, Xhosa, Yapese, Zulu.
Not hard to see why it is my favorite exhibit, right?

I'll finish up by telling you about another exhibit that we have. Our temporary exhibit right now is about the history of MoTab. There is a place where you can conduct the choir, except the baton breaks all the time from misuse and the songs are soooo slow. There is a listening station to listen to some of their recordings, interactive kiosks about their history, a collection of MoTab dresses and former conductor's batons. And then there is the beloved Music and the Spoken Word episode from the 60s. It is on a loop and just plays over and over and over. Many of the sisters have it memorized. (Take time, for your children... Mother.... where is mother? Are the questions asked when they come home...) That is unanimously the VC sisters' least favorite exhibit, especially because it is hard to teach from. It isn't a bad exhibit, actually quite interesting, but only on the first time through, and we are there a lot. But in only a few more weeks it will be gone, the room will be used as a theater for a few weeks, and then the nativities from around the world will be up for Christmas!

De Mesa con amor,

Hermana Ladd

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