Monday, March 25, 2013

Week 22 Picture

New Companions!  Hermana Biancardi

Week 22

Hola Familia,

So how is everyone doing this week?  I am doing great.  This week has been wonderful and hard all at the same time.

So on Tuesday I took Hermana Cruz to the exchange chapel at 10am.  It was sad saying goodbye and I was still feeling a little nervous for my new companion to show up.  After she left I was assigned to two English speaking sisters for the afternoon while my companion would be coming down from Albuquerque.  We visited some of their investigators so she could say goodbye because they were being transferred out of the area too.  Some of them even lived on the military base here in El Paso, so that was interesting to get to visit.  Then at 1pm we were back at the chapel waiting for all the missionaries to arrive.  When they started arriving the two Elders who serve in my ward were like "we know who your companion is..." (They are the Zone leaders so they have the list)  Of course they wouldn't tell me who she was, but I tried to get them to tell me if she was a native speaker or not.  There have been other missionaries in the mission who have trained after 12 weeks, but all of the ones I know of , it was always a native speaking trainee.  They wouldn't tell me if she was a native or not, but about 10 minutes later they walked back over and said all the sisters are here and then pointedly looked at me.  Yep there were no native speakers.  So that's the build up to my new companion.  Her name is Hermana Biancardi.  She is from West Linn, Oregon so we are practically neighbors.  She is 22 and also has graduated from BYU, so she is not a young'un, but there were 19 year sisters who came the same day.  She has taken Spanish through middle and high school and one semester in college, so at least she has a solid background.  She was in intermediate Spanish in the MTC. Oh and I know the Lord answers prayers because I asked him if she wasn't a native speaker then if he would send me a piano player that would be great.  Yep she's been playing for years and can play any hymn no problem, so I was off the hook!  She is lots of fun and has a ton of energy and has come ready to work which is awesome.  The only interesting part is that she has celiac disease so we've been having to contact all of our dinners, so she is able to eat!  Sadly that means no flour tortillas, but luckily there are corn tortillas so we are still good.

Speaking about food, so I think I must be becoming Mexican because this week was the second time I've had Mole on the mission and I actually like it now.  So I'm not sure if I'm more accustomed to chili in or on everything (spaghetti for example).  We actually had mole 3 times this week!  It's funny how we won't eat a certain type of food and then all of the sudden we will have it 3-4 times one week.  At one of the dinners this week they were getting to know my new companion and were asking her about Spanish and Hermana Biancardi was talking about she just needs to practice.  The sister said not to worry missionaries learn fast and then pointing at me she said "She only has a few months and now she's Mexicana!"  Pretty much the best compliment on Spanish ever!  I think that's a little exaggeration, but it's nice to hear that I must be making some progress!  This week I've had to overcome my fear of talking Spanish on the phone.  It is hard enough to understand in person, but put it on a crackily phone and it felt like an impossible task talking on the phone.  It definitely pushes me to my Spanish limits, but I have managed to answer and talk on the phone even if they might have to repeat themselves occasionally.  :)  Hermana Cruz must have done a good job teaching me Spanish because I'm not as lost as I thought I would be and I can do hard things like talk on the phone.

So I think I have outsmarted the cockroaches...maybe.  It has helped keep the number of roaches down by plugging the sinks whenever we leave the apartment.  I actually haven't had to squash hardly any in the past two days, but it has become part of my nightly routine when I get back to the apartment.  I check all the places they like to hide and I squish 4-5 baby ones.  The only ones that still give me the willies are the big ones.  If they crunch when you squish them it qualifies as a big one.  So my roaches and I are just one big happy family.

So the work is moving along.  Last Monday night (Hermana Cruz and my last day together) we had an exciting night.  We had an investigator who has been taking the lessons for 6 months and when we talked to him last he just talked about being really confused about what he should do.  We have been praying for a way to help him receive an answer and we shared a scripture and asked him to pray for an answer.  On monday when he walked into the room he just looked different and happy.  Then, he sat down next to his girlfriend and told us their news.  He said they have decided to get married and he wants to get baptized.  It was a complete 180 degree change from our last lesson and we were caught off guard.  I am so happy for them and it was the perfect last lesson to our companionship.  The rest of the week has been really busy as well.  It's been a little overwhelming this week of all of the sudden not having an experienced missionary as a support and guide and having a new missionary to train.  There are so many things that I feel like I am still learning, so it's been a little crazy, but we are working really well together.  We have been focusing on finding new people to teach and we have a lot of first lessons this week, so hopefully they will want to learn more about the gospel.  Missionary work is just so wonderful.  Everyday we are meeting new people and I get to share my testimony of the Savior and the restored gospel.  I am so blessed to be serving here in El Paso and I am excited for these next weeks with Hermana Biancardi.  I know the Lord is going to bless this area with great things.  Have a great week!  I love you!

Con Amor,
Hermana Klaus

Monday, March 18, 2013

Week 21 Pictures

Katie in the Rio Grande

Hermana Klaus and Hermana Cruz

Writing in the sand...

Week 21

Hola Familia!

So lots of exciting stuff going on in the mission this coming week.  It's transfer week and big changes are happening.

So I guess I'll start with me.  I am staying in El Paso in the same area, but Hermana Cruz will be heading north.  It's going to be sad to say goodbye on Tuesday because I have learned a lot from her.  The other big change for me is that on Wednesday I got a call from President Miller and he has asked me to train a new missionary.  I accepted the assignment and I am both nervous and excited for this opportunity to train.  We had a training meeting on Friday with President and Sister Miller and I kept thinking I hope I'm ready for this!  The funny thing is because this transfer is a week shorter I won't technically have even finished my 12 weeks of training!  I only get 11.  Really the only thing that makes me a little nervous about training is Spanish.  I am feeling pretty comfortable with speaking, but sometimes understanding what people are saying to me when it's unrelated to missionary work or the gospel is difficult.  Although who knows - my companion might be a native speaker and then I won't have that to worry about.  The only thing I will have to worry about is the Relief Society President asking me to play the piano for RS meeting for ward conference!  So I am really praying that my companion knows how to play the piano, so I can pass the responsibility to her and I can be off the hook!  If not I guess I can take comfort in the fact that if it's really bad they might decide to go back to the CD instead and I won't have to worry any more.

One fun thing we did this past week was we took pictures in the Rio Grande.  It's completely dry where we are and I don't know if other places it actually has water or if it is a dry river.  We also went to the outlets on P-day and we walked around, but didn't find anything that we liked.  Later we decided to drop some clothes off at Good Will and we decided to look a little through the clothes.  Sister Cruz found 5 shirts that she liked and I found 1 shirt.  I was super excited because my shirt had a blue tag and that meant I got an extra 50% off.  So I ended up getting a really nice looking shirt for 2 dollars!  I was happy!  P-day always goes so fast, but we usually get everything done that we need and want to.

This week was the funeral for Hermano Roman.  The funeral was on Thursday and it was very nice.  All of the speakers spoke about what a great man he was and how he was serving others.  Then there was a procession of cars from the Chapel to Fort Bliss national cemetery. We rode with some members from our ward.  It was a really long line of cars and there 4 were policemen escorting the procession.  It was a little weird to drive through stop signs and red lights.  The way they took us went right by the border of Mexico.  It was the highway and then the fence was right next to the highway.  Once we arrived at Ft. Bliss there was a presentation of the flag and the playing of Taps.  There was a feeling of reverence and respect as Hermano Roman was remembered and honored.
Other than that, this week has gone very fast.  We have been working and teaching.  We had a long day on Saturday.  It felt like no one wanted to talk to us, so we just kept trying to contact referrals and find people to teach.  It was a little discouraging, but it was a lesson in perseverance and trust in the Lord.  Even when things are hard we just keep working and trying and at the end of the day we can take comfort in the fact that we did all we could and that tomorrow is a new day.  Each day I am learning so many new things and so many things that are going to bless the rest of life.  One of the members at a dinner this week shared a thought from a general authority during a past general conference.  He said how the mission wasn't the best two years of my life, but the mission was the best two years for my life.  I know that there will be lots of wonderful years ahead filled with exciting adventures, but I can't agree more about how my mission is going to be the best 18 months for my life because of all the things that I am learning.  I am so grateful for this chance to be a missionary.  I love my Savior Jesus Christ and it is a special blessing to be able to serve Him.  I know that even when things are challenging he is there to help me and that through Him my weaknesses can become strengths.  I love each and everyone of you so much.  Have a great week.

Con Amor,
Hermana Klaus

Monday, March 11, 2013

Week 20

Buenas Dias Familia!

Yo estoy muy agradecida por este oportunidad para ser una misionera!  Este es el tiempo mejor de mi vida! 

So I can hardly believe another week has already come and gone!  We have been very busy this week between finding new people to teach, serving, teaching our investigators, and the occasional fun.  Last preparation day my district went bowling.  It was a lot of fun.  First frame I was the only one who bowled a strike, but it was a short lived glory, because my bowling went down from there!  Apparently I need to practice again to get my game back up.  We also had dinner with an investigator.  She made enchiladas which were really yummy and I was trying to learn how to properly squeeze a lime to get the juice out.  As I was perfecting this technique the lime shot through my fingers and smacked me in the face.  It's too bad we didn't have a video going because I think the look of sheer surprise on my face would have been priceless! 

Now for my deep regret.  I always knew this day would come.  Indeed it has come back to haunt me.  All those years ago when a wise mother and piano teacher told me to practice and learn to play the piano has caught up with me.  Yesterday in relief society the sister who normally brings a CD player to play the hymns wasn't there and I originally just thought they wanted someone to lead the music and so I happily volunteered.  Then I realized they wanted me to sing the tune to a song I know I have sung before, but which is not often sung, so I am slightly uncomfortable with.  Then they asked me to play it on the piano.  So much to their delight and my horror I sat down at the piano and I had this terrifying flashback to when I was 8 years old and trying to learn the song Do-Re-Mi and never being able to play it.  So I plucked away at the keys playing the melody and the sisters sang along.  There were a few mistakes, but we managed to get through the whole song.  Although I am pretty sure sister Chatman would have been embarrassed if any one knew that I was her student!  :)  When I returned to my seat I wished that I had stuck with playing the piano at least to where I could play the hymns, so maybe I'll have to make that a goal for sometime later on in life.  At least for the closing hymn I had a few moments before hand to look at the notes and so when they asked if I would play again I felt a little more prepared and I had even less mistakes!   So I guess the moral to the start of this letter is that I need to practice more!

This week is the last week in our shortened transfer week, so there could be changes to report on next week!

So on Saturday we had stake women's conference.  It went really well and I enjoyed being with the sisters.  They had some really lovely talks about putting on the Armor of light.  I think it left all the women feeling spiritually uplifted. It's fun being a missionary at these events because everyone likes to stop you, say hello and introduce themselves.

So there was one sad part about our week.  One of the Brothers in our ward passed away this week.  He was a family history missionary and he always greeted us every Sunday and his family has fed us dinner.  He had a heart attack and then after being in a coma for two days he passed away.  He was so nice to all the missionaries and it's a little sad knowing that he won't be there to wave and greet us on Sunday morning.  His family has been so strong throughout all of this and while they are sad and going to miss him deeply they said they have comfort in the fact that they are a forever family.  There was a sweet peace in the home and you knew that all will be well and that death is only a temporary separation.  Moments like this can put people's faith to the test, but when we rely on the Savior and believe in his gospel we can always feel his love and have hope.  That's what this gospel is about.  Finding peace and joy in this life and having a perfect brightness of hope for the promised blessings in the life to come.  I pray for all of you daily and I know that the Lord is watching over each of us.  I hope everyone has a good week.

Con Amor,
Hermana Klaus

Mt. Franklin Zone Conference

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Week 19 Pictures

Janet and me after my haircut

Sister Bills and me after exchanges

Me on the exercise ball from a few weeks ago!

Week 19

Hola Familia,

I think we should pause for this historic moment.  I have officially been in the field longer than I was in the MTC woohoo!  Yep, time keeps moving so quickly, but I still am loving being a missionary.  This week we had several adventures.  Our first adventure was that I got my hair cut and for the first time in 17 years I have bangs!  One of our investigators' girlfriends who is a member of the church, Janet, cut my hair.  She works in a really nice salon, so it was fun getting pampered a little.  I am still getting used to the length, but I can still put it in a ponytail, so it's not super short.

Then we were visiting a recent convert to the church and she lives in a trailer.  She normally always opens the door for us because it was semi broken and couldn't open all the way.  However, on this day Hermana Cruz went out first and she accidentally opened the door all the way and it was like it happened in slow motion -Linda saying "Hermana noo!!!", me trying to stop the door and the door falling off!  Yep the door fell completely off and the hinges broke.  We both felt so bad, but we couldn't help but laugh too, because here are 4 girls two of them in skirts holding up a door.  We knew that we would need help fixing the door, so just to try and have a temporary solution, we tried shoving the door back into the frame.  There is another door to the trailer, but that door won't open.  (At this point Linda was inside and the rest of us were outside.)  We were wiggling the other door back and forth trying to get it open.  I was wiggling the door and paused with it out and then Linda moved to look out the window just as I shut the door back accidentally hitting her face.  She wasn't hurt, but seriously, just when you think you can't do any more harm after busting off the door, you whack them in the face with the other door! (sigh) All is well now.  We had Javier, Janet's boyfriend, come and help us fix the door and now it can open all the way letting in the nice cool breeze.  Which is nice right now because the weather is amazing.  It feels like nice days in May or June back home.  Yesterday I didn't need my sweater all day because the sun was out and it was pretty warm.  I am especially grateful that I have such nice weather because it would not be very fun to be soaking wet all day and not be able to get dry, so yay for Texas.

So this week I also had my first Zone conference.  It was up in Las Cruces.  We had to be there at 7:15, so we were up at 5 to have enough time to get ready and to drive.  First they do car inspections.  Then we have some house keeping advice and we were instructed on the proper way for two people to back up the car.  They brought in little kid truck toys to help us visualize. :)  Then they have the time for talks.  Everyone in the Zone prepares a talk and then they are randomly selected that morning.  As we were driving up, Hermana Cruz and I were practicing and I thought our chances are so slim for being picked....I'm sure you can see where this is going.  Well President Miller asks the stake president to pick two numbers between 1-39.  He picked 12 and 38.  President Miller starts counting and it's about 3 people before when it hits me that, sure enough, I was lucky missionary number 12.  My very first zone conference and I was giving my talk and I also had to go first.  At least I could take comfort that only a 3rd of the people could understand my talk because you give it in the language of your mission, so I gave mine in Spanish. Then we did role plays the rest of the day and Hermana Cruz and I had been one of three companionships picked out of the Zone to demonstrate teaching.  We were a little stressed this week trying to prepare for it, but it turned out fine and didn't need to worry.  One of my favorite parts of Zone conference was at the very end they had a short testimony meeting and the spirit that was in the room as the missionaries were bearing testimony was so peaceful and full of love.

After Zone conference we had exchanges.  I was with Hermana Bills down in El Paso and Hermana Cruz was with Hermana Nunez in Las Cruces.  Hermana Bills and I had a really good exchange.  Our first lesson fell through, but we were able to contact a referral.  That didn't take very long, so the thought came to visit a less active family.  When we got to their complex, they were walking up to the apartment and we found out they were in the process of moving.  We ended up helping them move.  They were the people we were suppose to help because had we not gone and visited them we would not have known they switched apartments and they also had switched their phone numbers so we wouldn't have been able to call either.  It was a testimony builder for me that Heavenly Father knows us and he can put us in the right place at the right time to help his children.

We also had a another experience during exchanges.  We only had a short time before we were suppose to head back up to switch back, but we wanted to try and visit one more person.  Hermana Bills obviously doesn't know anybody in our area, so I was silently praying about who we should visit.  As we were driving I remembered these two women who we had visited earlier (a elderly member and her daughter), but the daughter didn't seem to want us to visit them, so we stopped.  I decided that we could just knock and see how they were doing.  When we went they happily let us inside and we were able to share a spiritual thought with them, but the thing that stuck with me was how the daughter was saying that they were thinking of going to the store, but then something told her that someone would be coming, so you should wait.  She kept saying how we were coming and she was happy that we were here and that she had lost our number and couldn't call us.  It's little miracles like this that build my testimony of how special this work is.

I hope everyone has had a good week and that you aren't too wet up in Washington!  I love you all so much!  Take care and have a great week!

Con Amor,
Hermana Klaus