Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Una carta de la nueva catracha!

Hola mi familia and friends!  

Wow.... I have SO MUCH TO SAY!!! But I don`t know how to even begin. These past few days have been incredible. I love it here. I love the people, I love the atmosphere, and I love the work :) 

Right now I am serving in an area called La Paz. My area has 5 or so different residential areas included - Oro Verde, La Paz, Los Flores, El Campo and one more that I don`t know how to say nor how to spell... haha - The members in the ward here are wonderful. They are all so excited and willing to help with the work. For the first few days we stopped by different member´s houses so they could get to know me and meet me. They all welcomed me with open arms and lots of patience for my Spanish. One of the first nights, we stopped by a members house and they found out that I was new and had never tried "baleadas" So she started whipping them up right then :) She taught us how to make the tortillas. It`s quite the art! You have to roll them out into circles and then slap them back and forth in your hands so that they are evenly distributed. At first mine was a square... then an oval... and then a circle! I got the hang of it really quick and it was way fun! A baleada consists of a tortilla, frijoles (fried beans), eggs, meat (usually ham, or a hot dog type thing), and sour cream. They`re very good! And not too difficult once you get the tortillas made. We eat at a different members house for lunch every day. The food here is very delicious. No complaints here! Lots of meat and vegetable combinations. My goal is to learn lots of dishes to cook for you all at home! 

I love my companion, Hermana Baltazar! We work really well together. One of my favorite parts of the day is companionship study. We learn so much from each other! One thing I really like is that we decided right off the bat to be obedient in every aspect possible, and I`ve already seen blessings from doing so. Sometimes the rules can seem small and insignificant, but one thing that I have learned while being here is that missionaries need the spirit as much as possible, and more rules means more opportunities to demonstrate obedience. With this perspective the rules become blessings, not burdens! We also are enjoying ourselves like crazy :) It`s hard and exhausting sometimes. It`s HOT and HUMID like I`ve never experiences before. But we have smiles on our faces, laugh, and love the time we have here. The other day we were walking around in an area called La Lima, when all of a sudden Hermana Baltazar started yelling and waving her arms. Something had either bitten or stung her in the hand! I wasn`t sure what it was, but it was still in her hand so I pulled it out and it was all gooey and gross. Her hand started swelling and her veins turned bright blue in her fingers. Her fingers were as stiff as a board as well. We ran into some elders and they turned to me and said, "aren`t you supposed to be the nurse??" haha I had no idea what to do!! Eventually we figured out that it was just a bee, so we put some ice on it and it was fine... Even though she was in pain we were able to laugh about it and it was a funny experience :) Of course the first medical emergency happened to be my companion! 

I`ve experienced a lot of new things while being here. We wash some of our clothes in what`s called a PILA. It`s like what the pioneers used only it`s made out of stone. It`s actually kind of fun! I tried banana soda, used my umbrella for shade instead of just for rain, had to "turn in" my bag at the front desk of the grocery store because they aren`t allowed inside, yelled "BUENO" at the front gate of houses, slept without ANY sheets and a big fan blowing on me all night... 

My Best Friend!!!

....and experienced an entire three hours of church with no English whatsoever. I had a giant headache after because my brain was fried, but the language is coming! Right now I`m forgetting english words, but don`t know the word in spanish yet, so it`s a struggle to talk at all... haha Last night a member was sending a video to a friend who only speaks english and she wanted me to say some things in english and boy was it a struggle to even know what to say... haha

I am loving the work. We walk most places, but sometimes catch the bus. The buses here are little 12 seater vans ran by a private company. It gives us good opportunities to talk to people though! One thing about this place is that everyone is always working! It`s hard to do tracting because most people aren`t home. One thing that has become obvious in only five days is the IMPORTANCE of references from members. It is so important! Most of our investigators that we are teaching right now are references from their neighbors and friends. We had 5 investigators come to church on Sunday, and every single one of them had a member to stop by their house in the morning and encourage them to come.  I am so grateful for the members! It would be so much more difficult without them. On Saturday we had an activity with the ward about missionary work. We brought 3 cakes and said that who ever could give us the most references would win a whole cake. We received 24 new references! Seriously, I feel bad that I didn`t do more to help the missionaries while I as home. They need references, people to accompany them to lessons, hold family home evenings with investigators or less actives. The list is huge! I will definitely try to do more to help them when I get home. 

Another thing I learned this week is the importance of service. Everyday we try to find opportunities to serve. This past Sunday was the primary program and the primary president was preparing all week for it. So we helped her make these ribbon headbands for all of the little girls. It was fun! And it was a great opportunity to get to know her and her family more. One day when we went to contact a reference in El Campo and when we got there, she and her mother-in-law were making tamales to sell. So we jumped right in to help! It was fun, and it gave us time to talk and get to know them. While they were cooking over the fire, we started to teach them a discussion. 5 minutes in, her husband and kids got home. They joined in to listen. About ten minutes in, the husband said "oh yeah! I`m already a member of this church, this sounds familiar" He and his whole family were baptized 12 or 13 years ago but had long since gone inactive. Now, we are teaching their whole family :) If we hadn`t stayed to serve, we would have missed her spouse entirely. I love how the Lord works!

We are also teaching several people in Los Flores. This area is a lot different from our others. The houses are more like one room huts, and the people are in a lot more humble of circumstances. It`s amazing the difference a few miles can make. But I seriously love it!

I hope all is well at the homefront! I`m slightly jealous to hear that the weather is starting to cool down... I`ve quickly learned that I better get used to this hot, sticky, sweaty, feeling because it won`t ever go away! Exercising in the morning is a whole new experience! I`ve already started taking measures to stay cool, such as cutting out the liners of my skirts... haha but despite all that, this really is a beautiful place. I really do love you all and pray for you daily! Thank you for your prayers and support. They are greatly appreciated :)

Que le vaya bien!

Hermana Bennett
A.K.A Barbie (that`s what a lot of the chicitas call me... haha)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

¡Hola from Honduras!

All the New Missionaries from 3 different MTC's
With Presidente and Hermana Klein

Well familia and friends, here I am! I´m writing to you from my very first Internet cafe here in Honduras. It is crazy to be here finally. I still am in shock. Since today was "cambios" (which means changes - where we get new companions and go to new areas) today is our P-day for the week. Usually P-days will be on MONDAYS but every 6 weeks it will be on Wednesdays  I didn´t realize we were coming here to email yet, so I forgot my little post-it that has all the lovely things I wanted to write to you about... So I will try to remember! If I forget I will write more Monday.

Me - Barney - Despain - Hna Powell
With Hno Montes
Last picture with my District

First, I´ll talk about the end of my time at the CCM. It was very bittersweet! I LOVE all the people that I was able to meet and learn and grow with. I´ve said it before, but this work truly does knit together hearts. The hardest goodbyes were my teachers, Hno Montes and Hna Powell, my district, and mis compañeras! Hermana Barney is now is Provo, Utah, and most of the other members of my district our back in various places in the states. (except for Hna Despain, E. Grigg and I). 

With CCM Mission President and wife
We ended our week on a great note! It was Mexico´s Independence day on Sunday, so on Saturday night we had a fiesta! They invited some of the youth from the area to put on a show for us in the gym. Everyone was being so loud and rowdy - my thought were "are we allowed to have this much fun??" haha I was expecting the mission pres to stop us any moment but he was laughing and smiling with us. 

Lots of Flaco Dancers and singing, even indoor fireworks! That was unexpected. The food was also very traditional. We had what is called pozole - a soup that has pork, hominy , lettuce, limones, chile, and other goods. It was yummy! I took a picture. 

Pozole - Yummy!

Then on Sunday night, we participated in the nationwide GRITO. It was broadcast to the CCM aty 11:00pm (shock.... gasp.... we were allowed to be awake at that time!!!) The president of Mexico says viva so and so, viva this, viva that, and then after everytime we yell VIVA and at the end everyone yells VIVA MEXICO! It was awesome. It made me wish that America was that patriotic. We watched a movie called "Mexico en sus sentidos" Look it up on Youtube, it was cool :)

On my way......

The plane ride here was uneventful - me and hna Despain sat next to each other. That morning trying to check in was a little hectic though! Hna Despain had lost her Visa! She was looking everywhere for it at the baggage check but couldn´t find it. I was helping her dig through her bags but to no avail. As I was kneeling by her bag, right there in the airport, I said a prayer that we could find it. After we walked over to immigration, i started looking in her bags again - and there it was! It saved us loads of time, stress, and dinero.... and that Hna Despain didn´t get stuck in Mexico for forever... haha I love these little experiences that seem so small and insignificant, but really testify that Heavenly Father watches out for us and hears our prayers! 

First look at Honduras, San Pedro Sula Airport

First impression of Honduras - GREEN!!! So luscious and green. We landed in the San Pedro Sula airport and I was expecting a bigger airport, but it was tiny. Pres Klein and his wife as well as some missionaries were there to pick us up and take us to a stake center. I also thought that the city would be a little bigger but the only areas I have seen are pretty rural. I love it :) Lots of dirt roads, lots of people walking in the streets, and mucho español... haha It is HOT and HUMID.... mucho humida! The second you walk outside you are sweating buckets. The first day we had lots of orientation (mostly all in Spanish ..) The president also pulled the 3 gringas aside to have a special meeting about safety. Since we are rubias, we stand out!! And not in a good way. We attract a lot of unwanted attention and whistling. I´ve already seen that I get stared at a lot walking down the road. And I get called gringa and americana a lot. But oh well... Anyways he just told us all of the extra precautions we have to take and to always have the spirit with us. We will always have native companions who have already had a lifetime of "street smarts" here in these types of countries and they look out for us. The members are supposedly really good at looking out for us as well. Basically Pres. Klein told us not to look so pretty... haha not to wear as much makeup, jewelry, etc.

The first night before we even got to sleep or anything we went contacting on the streets! I got paired up with a sister named Hna Trajavoy. She was great. I was definitely nervous and the Hondureños speak muy rapido!! It was pouring rain as well with lots of thunder so it was hard to here. But we ended up placing a couple copies of the Book of Mormon. One family that was sitting outside was super nice and gave us an umbrella after we gave them some pamphlets. One lady let us in her house to pray with her and she asked me to say the prayer! It was a good experience, but it also showed me how important and beneficial it will be to work with the members and get referrals from them. Street contacting is great, but not necessarily as effective. It rained and rained, my shoes got muddy, what a great experience!

Last night we stayed in a house of one of the companionship's and it was surprisingly nicer than I was expecting. Today I found out that my new companion is Hermana Baltazar from Guatemala. I already love her! She speaks very clear Spanish so I can understand her pretty well and she is very patient. It is not the mission nurse for the West, but all is well. It just feels right and I know this is where and who I need to be with! President Klein said that for these next two weeks, I´m strictly to focus on getting acclimated to missionary work, and we will worry about nursing stuff after. We´re easing me into it instead of having me jump in head first. He says my number one priority is missionary work, and that was a relief to me! Hna Baltazar and I are actually going to be staying in the same house that I slept in last night. I totally lucked out for the first transfer. We even have running water! (which apparently is rare) No warm water, but the cold shower is actually refreshing. 

PS - they just opened up Roaton to hermanas!! Crazy, huh? Who knows, maybe some time in the next year and a half I´ll find myself in the same place that you all went on a cruise to! 

Right now we are shopping for food and getting everything squared away for the rest of the week. There wasn´t a bus to take us back to our area after the cambios so we had to walk a distance until we found one of the local buses to take us. That was quite the experience. The first casualty of the mission is the wheel of my big suitcase.... It is completely torn up and broken from the dirt roads! 

First Casualty - I lost a wheel on my big suitcase!!

Every day we eat lunch with a different member of the church. Today we ate with the primary president :) It is SO HOT.... my hair will be in a bun and a braid for the next year and a half...

Well my time is super short, but I can already tell that I am going to LOVE it here. It´s overwhelming for sure, but I can do hard things with Christ by my side :) One step, one spoonful at a time. The language will come, I´ll get familiar with the area and the people, it will just take time. I´m excited to get going, jump in head first and really give my all to the Lord! I´ll write more on Monday. I love you all!

Hermana Bennett

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Last week in the CCM!!

Mi querido familia y mis amigos!!!!
This will be my last group email before I head out to HONDURAS!!! Ahhh!! It´s a crazy thought. I feel like it has flown by.... okay so maybe it hasn´t... but looking back it has! haha This has been quite the week. It´s a little hard to focus, but we are trying! Our branch has had a tradition in which the last week you are here you get this red sign to put on the door of your classroom. It says "Semana 6 - Déjalo a la puerta" (Week 6 - leave it at the door). It means to finish strong! We may be finishing one chapter of our missions, but it´s really just the beginning. I really do love it here, and I love the spirit. I love the things that I am learning.

For my personal studies, I have been focusing on a different Christlike attribute each day as well as reading "Jesus the Christ." On Sunday, we heard a devotional by Elder Holland that was SOooo incredible. He has a fire when he speaks to the missionaries, that´s for sure. He talked about how the brethren expect each and every one of us to have one convert by the end of our mission, and that convert is ourselves. He said that there is no other time in life where we will have this unique of an opportunity to become more like our Savior and let our conversions take root deep within us. I was very inspired! I have found that as I am studying more about the Savior, His life and His teachings, I feel more of a connection with Him and I can feel His love more and more. It´s amazing :)

There is a song I found on LDS.org called "glorious" by Russ Dixon. I LOVE it. Whenever I get the chance to be on the church website I put it on repeat. Look it up - it´s awesome. It talks about how each and everyone of us has a specific purpose in this life and that we all contribute our "melodies" to a grand symphony. We all have our specific talents and attributes that make us unique. But that´s the beauty of it! When I apply it here to the mission, we have all been called to be apart of the symphony of missionary work. Some of us are on violins, some cellos, others percussion, but all important! We are called to be US, not to be anyone else. If everyone on the violin tried to play it like a cello it wouldn´t sound so good, would it? That´s because the violinists have their own special part to play. We´re not supposed to compare ourselves to others and try to be someone we´re not. We have to be the best of whatever we are, and no one else. I really like that analogy!

 (See next posting for "Glorious")
This week has been fun because it´s Mexico´s Independence day this weekend. They have lots of Mexican Flags and decorations up everywhere and they are serving different treats and traditional dishes during the meals. Saturday night they are going to have a FIESTA and bring in some cultural dancers and stuff like that. I picked a good week to leave! I´m glad I didn´t miss it.... One of the funny things about that, however, is that I ended up eating something that I would NOT have eaten had I known what it was. I didn´t think anything of it until my teacher asked us if any of us had had the dish that looked like ground up Hamburger. She then told us that it is something called "Tripa" which is ground up stomach and intestines..... YUM! haha It was my first experience with "eat now, ask later." Except, the other day we looked extra close at some of the fruit and found little miniscule creepy crawling creatures... yeah... I probably won´t be eating any more apples while I am here!
Things are going great with my companions and my district. I´m going to be really sad to leave them! One of the elders in my district, Elder M, has grandparents that live here in Mexico City, so we get lots of nice gifts :) Usually on Sundays his grandma will drop off delicious breakfast cakes!!! They are wonderful. His birthday was yesterday so we got a big gooey chocolate cake and then little personalized goodie bags for everyone in the district. It was awesome! Love my companions still - which is a good sign :)
My compañeras and I have already started to get sick of all our clothes so we´ve been mixing and matching our wardrobes for fun. There was one time where we each wore the same green shirt on 3 consecutive days to see if anyone would notice (don´t worry we washed it in between...). It was fun... haha only 1 elder noticed. That goes to show how much your clothes really don´t matter out here! As long as they are clean, neat and professional, it really doesn´t matter what you wear. The poor elders only get to change up their ties. Today a bunch of them are getting together for a "tie exchange" because they are already so sick of their ties! It makes me grateful that I can at least change up my outfits. I hope my emails don´t start getting shorter and shorter, I try to write things down on a post-it so I don´t forget what to write about. The days all seem to blend into each other so it´s easy to forget.
Well... I love you all!! Les amo muchisimo!!! Next time you hear from me will be from Honduras :) I am so excited.....!!!!!
Until next week!
Hermana Bennett

Glorious (EFY 2012) Written by Stephanie Mabey, Performed by Russ Dixon

There are times when you might feel aimless
And can’t see the places where you belong
But you will find that there is a purpose
It’s been there within you all along
And when you’re near it
You can almost hear it
It’s like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it’s glorious
You will know how to let it ring out
As you discover who you are
Others around you will start to wake up
To the sounds that are in their hearts
It’s so amazing
What we’re all creating
It’s like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it’s glorious
And as you feel, the notes build, you will see
It’s like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it’s glorious

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Semana #4

Friends and Family! I can't believe I have already been out a month (in like two days...)! It seems like forever in a way, but when I look back time has really flown. I'm sure it will fly by even faster once I dive head first into the field and my nursing responsibilities.
"Missionary Purpose"
Thomas S. Monson Building
I really do love it here. Despite how hard it is sometimes I am having an awesome experience! I am meeting so many great people and making some long lasting friendships. In a devotional on Tuesday, the wife of the speaker talked about how the work of the Lord has a way of knitting together hearts. I have seen this first hand! One thing I am learning out here is how to love others so much! I'm a little sad to be leaving mainly because it means saying goodbye to a lot of people I've gotten close to. Mainly my two teachers Hermano Montes from here in Mexico, and Hermana Powell from bountiful, My district, and my companions. We've been able to share lots of good, fun, and spiritual experiences together.

One word to describe this week... RAINY!!! And wet! and cold! Okay so that's more than one word, but it's true. I sent a video home to my parents that is just an example to the kind of rain we get. One night there was literally a lake in the middle of the grass and it was reflecting the lights from all the houses on the hill. I got a really cool picture of that so I'll send it home too! You'd think by now that me and my companions would learn to have an umbrella will us at all times, but the past few days we have found ourselves standing at the door of the comedor (lunchroom) and staring into the torrential downpour, with our umbrellas sitting comfortably on our desks in our classroom.... duh!!! Luckily there are lots of gentlemen here that are more than willing to lend us umbrellas. That helps to keep our heads dry but it is hopeless with our feet! I've finally experienced what it is like to have to cross through a river that has suddenly sprung up in the road... It doesn't help when the water splashes up your skirt either.... haha what memories! I have a feeling my poor shoes won't last another year and a half of this, but last night my teacher saw my distress and offered to buy me a pair of waterproof crocs in the city next week. She is a saint! That will be so helpful.
One cool thing that comes with the rain though, are the lightning storms. I don't know how to describe them other than it looks like people are taking pictures behind the clouds with bright flashes. It's nothing like I've ever seen before but I love it! We've been told to be careful, however, because a
student here was struck by lightning a few years ago! She survived, but it just makes us aware to be cautious.

So... our other investigator Fernando decided to get baptized! It was awesome! We were totally thrown off guard when he actually read the chapter we had left him and it had inspired him to get baptized even though he had felt that his previous baptism was sufficient. It was awesome! We had to throw our lesson plan away and just go straight from the spirit. It was awesome :) I love this feeling!
I heard a really good analogy about missionary work this week that I wanted to share. When President Packer was a mission president, he taught a valuable lesson to his missionaries. During a zone conference he brought out a beautiful chocolate cake and asked if anyone wanted some. An eager elder ran to the front for an opportunity to have some. So, President Packer grabbed a handful of the cake with his hands and threw it in the face of the Elder and said, there you go! Everyone was shocked. When asked if anyone else wanted some, the missionaries were rather reluctant so he picked an elder to come to the front. Then, he pulled out a beautiful silver utensil, white cloth napkin, and cut a perfect slice of cake and handed it to him on a plate with a fork. The second elder was obviously much more excited about the cake than the first. So, what's the difference? It's the same cake isn't it? And that's how it is with the Gospel. We have this amazing message that everyone in the world needs, but will they benefit if we just take it and throw it in there face? Will they want it if we just sit down and present it to them like a boring speech? No! We have to apply to them and help them to see how vital it is in their lives. There is nothing wrong with the message, the message is perfect. It's about presentation of the message that is so important. That is why relying on the Spirit to help discern other's needs is so important! It changed my view on how important it is to teach the message in a way that it deserves.
Funny story of the week, for the Tuesday devotional I got to play the piano for the whole CCM! It was cool, and I was excited. I'm glad I can play. But..... as I was walking down to my seat after playing, my skirt caught on a stray tulip that had been hanging over the stairs and it flipped my skirt up! I don't know how many people noticed because I was lightning fast at putting it back down, but I was still embarrassed! haha Sister missionary probs.... there are many. Like trying to get on the top bunk in a skirt? Took me almost a month to be able to do it without falling and tumbling over. Good times! They make for fun memories and good laughs.
I hope you are all doing well, I miss you all mucho! One more P-day and then you'll be hearing from me in Honduras!!!
Until next week,
Hermana Bennett