Elise at temple

Elise at temple
Hermana Moser

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Hermana Cuevas, hermana Wood, me, y hermana Morales (did I mention hermana wood and I are in the same apartment?)  Also pictures of Fontera area.

The Christmas choir y el obispo!
 My beautiful bedroom.  I have the top bunk.  We share this temporarily as a foursome.  The other Hermanas will be moving two doors down.
And the kitchen.  Sometimes the rain water decides to come in and we have to get everything up off the floor. Notice we can't drink the tap water so we have a water jug for drinking purposes.  We eat yogurt or cereal every morning and the orange juice is divine!  I don't think I will ever be able to drink American orange juice again.  We have a heating element for cooking and no oven.  This and the bathroom make the sum total of our dwelling.  At least I do have hot water...if I want it.

My Christmas package did not arrive after all.

Feliz Navidad!

Dear Julian: I am so sorry for making fun of your English. I understand now. Sincerely, Elise.
¡Hola familia!

So I am in Mexico now, in a little town called Frontera, and it is the weirdest thing! Honestly this has been the strangest week of my life. BUT it is also really awesome and I love it! 

Where to begin, where to begin... I can't even think right now because the computer is telling me all the words I'm typing are wrong. Okay.. how about we start at the beginning? I think that's a very good place to start....

Last Monday we flew all day long. From Salt Lake to Houston, and from Houston to Villahermosa. I met a lovely man in the Houston airport named Branko. He was so cool. I started a conversation by complementing his pink socks. Anyways.. we talked about religion and such for a time, and then he gave me his business card and I gave him a Christmas pass'along card. 

We landed in Villahermosa at about 9 pm local time. Everyone's hair immediately started doing crazy things, and it was hilarious. It is so humid here. SO humid. Anyroad, we made it through customs and baggage and blah blah blah (which was super entertaining with 9 white hermanas who don't know Spanish) and when we got to the other side, there was our Mission president and his family waiting with open arms to greet us. And by open arms, I mean a warm handshake. Obviously the mission president can't hug us. He's a boy. But his wife and daughters gave us hugs and kisses (Yes, mom.. the cheek-kiss thing is real, and I LOVE it. I am an advocate. But it's a little awkward when you go half the day with lip-stick prints near your ear. #mylife). (And sometimes male investigators don't know hermanas can't get that close to them, and that gets real awkward también--also). They then took us to this out-door-ish restaurant with the CHEESIEST American 80s music videos I have ever beheld playing in the background. The president bought us all tacos and horchata, and it was the best thing ever. The food here is delicious, and I haven't had fish yet. But more about that later...

They then took us to the Elder's apartment, because aparently he didn't feel good about putting us in a hotel. It was so sketchy. SO sketchy. I'm talking like no light in our bedroom, and when we woke up we saw blood on the window. I know. And we might have accidentally broken both toilets, the shower, and a sink while we were there. #oops. 

Tuesday we woke up, brushed our teeth without water because we weren't sure what was safe, and walked to the mission office. That's right. 9 American hermanas, mosee-ing down the streets of Villahermosa with our carry-on luggage. It was a sight to behold. And it was raining. haha Good times. 

After paper work and interviews, we got our companions!! I LOVE MY COMPAÑERA! She is wonderful. (and she says hi, by the way). Her name is Hermana Morales, and she is from Vera Cruz and therefore speaks no English. Bless her, she tries... but she knows less English than I know Spanish, so most of her "translations" are her just speaking really slow in Spanish. I do a lot of nodding in agreement, when I really still haven't a blessed idea what she said. Sometimes I forget she can speak fluently, because when she talks to me she sounds just like my other American hermanas when we try to communicate solely in Spanish. Then in a lesson, just when I'm thinking "Oh man, hermana. I have no idea what those words were. How are we going to answer him?" BAM. Rapid Spanish. I'm really glad one of us knows the langauge, because Spanish is real hard. 

Speaking of, I've already had my first breakdown. IT'S FINE. haha Really though, I'm glad it's out of the way. Yesterday we were in a meeting with the ward mission leader and this other guy (I still haven't a clue who he is) when the second guy looks at me suddenly and says, "Hermana Moser, que piense?" Well, I didn't know really what we had been talking about for the last half hour, so I said, "Yo pienso que necesito aprender mas español." As soon as the words left my mouth I was crying. It was so embarrassing. And it didn't stop for a long time because not only did these two kind hermanos try to help me, so did every member of the ward on the way out. (Did I mention how nice the people are here? They are wonderful. I love them a lot. But their kindness was super inconvenient at that point in time). THEN when we got home, Hermana Morales wanted to talk about it. I couldn't explain in Spanish what was wrong, or that the best way to get me to stop was to not talk about it. She started crying, and I was still going strong, and I eventually figured out how to say things... oy. It was difficult. Like late-night math sessions all over again.  But now it's  all good and I KNOW that if I am obedient and if I work really hard, miracles WILL happen. I am already seeing a lot of progress. It's just hard sometimes to focus on the possitive, and not how inadequate I feel. 

Hermana Morales likes to talk about feelings. How I felt in the lesson, how I feel about Spanish, how do I think the investigator felt, how I feel about the mission and mexico and her... Now I don't know if you know this, but I am TERRIBLE with feelings. Turns out, it's even harder in Spanish. So maybe that's why I have been paired with this loving hermana. Someone (ME) needs to learn how to be vulnerable and trusting. (Reminder: Ask me about how the companionships were chosen. It's a great story, but I don't think I can do it justice with my writing skills).

Well, Frontera is just a wonderful little place. The members a wonderful, but there are not many of them. The Bishop is hilarious... from what I can understand. We've eaten at their house twice now. The second time we were talking about whether or not I miss hamburguesas, and I told him that I just miss ice cream. He turned to his daughter and asked her to go get the oreo ice cream out of the freezer. Apparently, my eyes got really big when he said "ice cream" and he just thought it was the funniest thing. I can't help it if I get excited over ice cream, mmk? It's just a natural instinct! hahaha But I thought ya'll--especially dad--would get a kick out of that :)

We are teaching a couple--Agustine and Mayra--and last night I extended the baptismal invitation to Mayra!!! The first one of my whole mission! (She was also the first lesson I was ever a part of in the field. So that's awesome.) She didn't commit, but she knows it's true and I just really hope and pray that whatever doubts she has about a future in the church will be resolved. She hasn't read/prayed about the book of Mormon or Joseph Smith. A testimony of the book of mormon is SO important. We are doing everything we can think of to help her see the importance of reading and praying every day. 

hm... I don't really know what else to say. OH! How about all the weird attention I get here? You{d think these folks have never seen a white girl. Oh wait...
Seriously though, people will straight up stare as they drive past--head turn and all. And one kid my first day in the area came up and asked if he could take a picture. He through his arm around my shoulders all excited, and I thought Hermana Morales was going to have a heart attack! hahah. People will even shout "WHITE GIRL" (in spanish) as I walk by. So weird. 

It's also like the other side of heaven up in here. You know the part where he keeps slapping himself until he can't control his frustration anymore? That{s me. If I come back looking like an elephant, will you still love me? :)

Well, I'm super stoked to talk to ya'll and see your loving faces smiling back at me this week! I've been told my time to skype is around 3 pm local time (2 back home), so just make sure whatever your skyping on is charged and ready. I will call you before I get on. 
(REMINDER: La actividad de navideña) 

Alright. I love you I love you I love you!!!! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

              Me y Hermana Woodland for the last time! Love her.
                          Our favorite district of Elders in the infamous "hermana Ray pose!"

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Un Milagro de Navidad!

Quierdo familia,

Remember how last week I was praying for a Christmas miracle? Pues, this week I sure got it. MY VISA CAME! Oh yeah. And I even got to take a day trip to Las Vegas to get it. THAT was a weird experience, let me just tell you. 

We had to wake up at 4 in the glorious morning to catch the bus that didn't even show up until 5:15. It took us to the SLC airport, where we waited for our flight for the next two hours. Hna. Wood and I went to breakfast at McDonalds, and I got the McGriddle because 1) It reminds me of Dad and 2) It was delicious. They were playing "real" music though, so that was interesting. There are already songs on the radio that I do not know. 

Anyways, as we were waiting for our plane, I struck up a conversation with this Native American woman who had really awesome earrings. (She was headed to Las Vegas for a tribal convention). So we talked about Fort Hall and other things and pretty soon she was just kind of spilling her life to us. Apparently she was born in the church, but because of the insensitivity of a bishop to her culture she has fallen away. She had a lot of questions and a lot of concerns, and I know that we didn't really do a whole lot to help her, but I did bear my testimony of the importance of church and asked her to give her new ward a chance. She was really nice, and it was just really cool to have a mini missionary experience before 8 in the morning! 

Then we flew to Las Vegas. I felt real weird because I have never actually flown without my mothers permission, but apparently I am an adult and a misionera and so it was okay to leave the state without notifying her. Landing in Las Vegas was even MORE weird because--and this might come as a shock to some of you--LV is NOTHING like the MTC. Nope. So much awkward and uncomfortable-ness. No me gusta. A bit of a shock to the system, if you're pickin' up what I'm puttin' down. This service missionary picked us up, took us to Del Taco, and then took us back to the institute there to talk to us for 3 HOURS about nothing. Well, that's not true. He did tell us a lot about Mexico, but according to everyone else we've talked to everything he told us is false. So that's awesome. He told us we could lay our heads down and sleep if we so desired, and I desired so I did, and then he got mad at all of us. It was a wonderful 3 hours with him. Bless his heart. 

Then we went to the Mexican consulate, where we had to get our fingerprints done and take a picture, (mine was awful) and check to make sure all the paperwork was correct. It took probably 20 minutes total for all of us. I didn't have to speak Spanish there, but we did try to translate the insurance commercial that kept playing over.. and over.. and over......

Then the brother in charge of us took us back to the airport, where we had to wait for another 3 hours for our flight home. But 'sta bien, porque I talked to like a thousand people. And by that I mean like 4. We had a conversation with the lovely man at the Cinnabun counter about Sri Lanka and their government (he was from there and was the COOLEST). The woman at Starbucks was from Mexico. When she saw our tags she said, "Oh ya! I have heard of your church. You have really nice commercials." and I said, "We also have an entire website! Maybe you should check it out!" And she said, "I have to go make the smoothie. Good luck in Mexico." So that wasn't really effective... but it was still cool. Then we started a conversation with a woman from Romania and her daughter. They were really nice, but we didn't talk for very long. So really that one was just cool because she was from Romania. 

But the coolest story ever happened on the flight home. Four of us hermanas were sitting in the second to last row of the plane, and directly behind us were four Mexicans (I KNOW) and a member couple. Unfortunately, I was by the window so I couldn't really talk to them.. pero the two hermanas on the aisle were chattin up a storm! Long story short, we ended up giving them a Libro de Mormon and a Restoration pamphlet. And the two members next to them testified of it to. Powerful. It was the coolest thing ever.

Ever since we got our flight plans last week, I've been freaking out. I don't know why. I guess it all just got really real for me in a hurry and all I could think was "I DON'T KNOW SPANISH OR THE GOSPEL AND I AM NOT READY TO ACTUALLY TALK TO THESE PEOPLE." But the Lord knows me, and he gave me this day in Vegas as one gigantic tender mercy. I realized that with the Lord help, anything is possible. And apparently I am already passed the fear of talking to random strangers, so that's probably a good thing. It was so nice to get that firm testimony re-established that the Lord really loves me and really wants me to succeed. And when I'm doing His work His way, how can I fail? 

Also, Hno. Russell reminded us that "Spanish will never be the limiting factor. It is ALWAYS your faith." Humbling, right? What in YOUR lives is keeping you from sharing the gospel? Remember your faith, and the miracles you've seen before. It is always worth it to open your mouth and share the joy that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Anyroad, that was probably the biggest part of my week. Elder Quinten L. Cook came on Tuesday for the devotional, but we were flying home so I didn't get to hear what he said. #Estoyticked.
I'm so glad things are good at home! I LOVE hearing about everything--especially when you narrate exactly what's happening right then. I can just picture it all so perfectly. Good job to mis hermanos y padres por being so super talented. I love all ya'll. :) 

Remember how I called finally receiving my visa my "Christmas miracle"? Well, it was definitely a miracle, and I don't doubt that, but I was reminded this week that ALL miracles are "Christmas miracles." Without Christ--the reason we celebrate Christmas--there would be no miracles available to us. The atonement of Jesus Christ and the ability to return to live with our Heavenly Father and continue to progress with our families for eternity is the REAL Christmas miracle. All the other miracles and tender mercies we experience in our lives are also because of Jesus Christ, and His love for us. Christmas on a mission is awesome. I have never been so focused on the Savior in all of my days. It's just the most wonderful thing. :) 

Well... I'm happy and healthy, and the next time you hear from me via email I will no longer be stateside! AHHHHH!!!! I love you all! FELIZ NAVIDAD!

Con amor, 
Hermana Moser

Saturday, December 7, 2013

 I am a missionary with the official missionary name tag.  Meet my companion, Hermana Wood.

Exciting day for me here...my first package... from Makenda!!
My district in front of Provo Temple.
We are all headed South!
In front of another map.
I am ready to rock n roll! Let's do this!

We may or may not draw on the white boards some....

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Praying for A Christmas Miracle

Oh hey dehr! (Canadian accent)

How is it going in good ole B-town?! I am sure it is just wonderful, because it always is. Sorry to hear about the power-outage. If that happened here, I think we would all just die. It is seriously so cold. You know what was a bad idea? Packing for Mexico. Apparently light fabrics don't do too well in the snow and ice. haha.. pero esta bien. We can muscle through it. I think there was a reason all the missionaries watched "Ephraim's Rescue" before the snow hit. :) 

My blessed companion is from Arizona, and she had the time of her life when it snowed all day. I kept losing her, only to turn around and find her taking MORE pictures. She just loved it. I told her she would get over it real quick, and she has. She keeps complaining about the "wind." That's when I say, "Hermana, this is not wind. This is the slight breeze that happens when you walk really fast to get out of the cold." Bless her. She's never been in SE Idaho. THAT is wind. 

This week we almost got to hear from another Apostle of the Lord, but the snow kept him (M. Russell Ballard) from making the trip. So Bruce C. Hafen, an emeritus member of the seventy, was called up at 4:30 that afternoon to address us instead. He did a fabulous job teaching us about the purpose behind why we go through the temple before we go on missions. But my favorite part was when he told a story about his good childhood friend, Jeffrey R. Holland. (I know). Apparently, Elder Holland had a hard time trusting the Lord and deciding to serve a mission at all. But he acted on his faith, and his mission was the most powerful experience in his life. (Go watched "Miracle of a Mission" or "Missions are Forever." It's good stuff). His mission changed his life. It just gives me so much hope that if Elder Holland even had struggles, I'm gonna be fine. I dunno. I just find this whole "trust" concept to be very interesting. 

Anyways... Brother Hafen also told us to go watched Elder Ballard's talk from this last General Conference, because that is probably what he would have said to all of us. So, I did. I would recommend for all ya'll to do the same, because it stressed the importance of missionaries and members working TOGETHER to hasten the work. He also gave us a challenge to complete before Christmas. Remember what it was? Anyone? Anyone? Beuhler? He challenged every member of The Church to reach out to a non-member friend and invite them to come closer to Christ by Christmas. If we all seriously took this challenge to heart, MILLIONS could be affected. MILLIONS BY CHRISTMAS!!!! If that doesn't get you pumped for missionary work, I don't know what will. It's a great talk. Probably go read it. Incidentally, it's entitled "Put Your Trust in the Lord." (Are you sensing a theme in my life right now? I am). 

Quick shout out to cousin Amber for being born this week! Feliz Cumplianos! 
Also shout out to Aunt Adie and Uncle Curtis! Thanks for the Christmas card! Loved it!!

So yesterday was a really great day, and not just because it was a certain someone's birthday. (see above). (And if her birthday isn't on the 4th I'm about to be real embarrassed and I apologize). I spoke SOLAMENTE ESPANOL for the entire day. No joke. Actually, I said some English words but that's just because I had no idea how to say them in Spanish. But I tried my very best, and I learned what I need to improve on in the next 10 days before I hit the field. (Wait, WHAT? AHHH). Unfortunately, it is a lot. Like a lot, a lot. But everyone keeps telling me that the focus of the MTC is not the language, it is the language of the Spirit. So that is what I have been trying to focus on. 

Also yesterday I had some lovely box elder bugs thrown on my person by the elders next door. They thought it was hilarious. I screamed really loud. I know.. You are all thinking "Elise? Scream loud? She would never do that. She is not that kind of girl." But I did. And it was embarrassing. I also got hit really hard in the back of the head with a basketball yesterday. Bien venido a mi vida. (MOM! I play basketball during PE! Actually, it's not "basketball," it's lightning.. but I still thought you would be proud of me! I am getting pretty good. I could totes take you down right now). 

Well, the Christmas lights are up about campus, and it's just that wonderful time of the year! It's still weird to think that regular life is continuing without me, but I can't think of a better way to celebrate the birth of the Savior than to share the message of his gospel. Hopefully, I'll be able to do that in Mexico. At this rate, with no word from the Visa office for any of the Villahermosa sisters, it will take a Christmas miracle to get me there on time. Good thing I know this whole experience is directed by someone who knows a lot better than I do what is ahead. 

La Inglesia de JesuCristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias es Verdadera! I know it. I live it. I love it. And I love all of you. 

I love you I love you I love you!
con amor, 
Hermana Moser