Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A typical day in the life of a missionary

A few people have asked me to give a run-down of my average day so I will do that this week!
At 6 a.m. we wake up and have time to exercise (usually I walk around my apartment doing arm circles trying to wake myself up!)
6:30-7:30 I look in the shower and make sure there aren't any animals or bugs in there ...If it is clear: I shower, then make breakfast and get all ready for the day! We don't have a toaster or oven so I have gotten pretty creative in cooking different ways. I usually make a scrambled egg for breakfast and make a little breakfast burrito, or I cut a whole in a piece of bread and fry an egg in it...I eat these things with a cup of cereal. I can't remember what the cereal is called but it has "Tony the Tiger" on the box! Sometimes if I feel like doing more work, I make pancakes and eat them with my three favorite food groups: peanut butter, nutella and syrup.
7:30-11:30 a.m. We have personal study (1 hour), then companion study(2 hours), then language study (1 hour)
We then leave to work for the day! We work from 11:30 a.m. to about 9:20 at night, with a half hour break for lunch at the house of a member. We teach about 7-9 lessons and contact around 40 people every day. The little kids really like talking to me because I have white skin and stickers! They always ask me what English words mean and they are usually really random...yesterday a kid came up and asked me what "Harlem Shake" means...
 At 9:20 p.m., we return to our house and the first thing I do is take off my church shoes and put on socks and Crocs...I am sorry that I may have made fun of some of you for wearing crocs before my mission but I have discovered the pleasant joy that comes while wearing crocs (around the house) and I am confident this habit will carry on throughout my life.
We then plan for the next day and finish at about 9:45 p.m., if I'm not very tired then I make dinner, which is usually a quesadilla or banana or peanut butter/jelly sandwich or cup of noodles soup! I then read from my Spanish Book of Mormon for about 20 or 30 minutes-I'm still determined to finish it in the next couple weeks! Then we get ready for bed and go to sleep at 10:30 p.m.
This is the same schedule every day except on Sundays when we have church for three hours in the morning. Also, every week on Sunday, we eat lunch with the bishop and his family! Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. we have preparation day and do our grocery shopping (walking to a tienda outside of Mariposa in Amatitlan) and clean our house, and Tuesdays we have district meeting and an hour to e-mail our families and our mission President. There's my week for the people that asked haha. next week will be a more interesting e-mail, I promise :
Love you guys! The work is hard but the people are amazing and every day it becomes a little easier to speak Spanish.  Oh and next week, I will write on Monday because we are going to the Zoo with our zone on Tuesday! :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Raccoon, geccos and bibles

Another week has flown by here in La Mariposa. The streets are constantly pretty noisy because the people are very active. We wake up to roosters and dogs in the morning, and sometimes bombas (little fireworks) that people set off for birthdays. Little kids love playing soccer and set up little marks in the street so they can play. And the people love to have pets, they are the usual types of pets in America like dogs, cats, chickens, hamsters, bunnies...raccoons. We were walking in the street and I look to my right and I see a raccoon just hanging in someone's doorway staring at us! Luckily my companion agreed to go contact and teach the family so I can hang out with their pet raccoon, we have a second visit this week with them :) . Is it illegal to have a pet raccoon in the states? If not, I want one when I get back.
Hermana Ortiz and Hansen in front of their apartment
This week I realized that leaving our back door open doesn't only invite mosquitos and bugs into our house...also cats and geckos! I told my companion that since she was my trainer, it was her responsibility to teach me how to catch the geckos...but she didn't quite agree...Luckily we finally captured it and released it back into the wild streets of Mariposa.
I also learned something else this week. I learned how beautiful the message is that we are sharing. To be able to talk with someone that has just lost a loved one and to be able to tell them in full confidence that we have a Heavenly Father and he has a plan for us is such a privelege. Our message is so important and when a person has a desire to know more, the effect is almost addicting. We were walking in the street and one of our investigators called out to us and started waving around a "Law of Chastity" pamphlet to show us that she was reading. Because she used a little effort to pray and to study, the effect is continuing to grow. She attended church on Sunday and also brought her son and his family. Her son said, "It feels different here...a nice kind of different." We are hoping the woman is baptized this weekend! We have another investigator that lays out her Bible, Book of Mormon and a notepad every lesson. She takes notes on what we say and highlights every scripture we use. It is so rewarding to see that the importance of our message can touch every heart when the person is prepared and willing. I am starting to see the effects of our lessons and it inspires me to work even harder. We teach about 6-8 lessons every day and when the people have a sincere desire to know more, every message we share with them helps them come closer to Christ. I love this gospel and I love how it brings me closer to Christ!
In the city center,  Guatemala City (from Feb)
Hermana Hansen

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wendys - one happy missionary!

Loving the People

Another week! The people here are humble and so kind. I am always greeted with a kiss on the right cheek, it's very common here! There are dogs eeeeeeeverywhere, especially on people's rooftops...not quite sure how they get up there but they always bark at us.
This past week I learned a lot. The past 6 or 7 weeks, I have been discouraged with the language and with my disabilities and I felt so alone. I felt that I wan't good enough to be out here and I felt like coming home. I also felt like my prayers weren't being answered. But I finally received an answer yesterday. My thoughts of discouragement are thoughts that I need to become better. The Lord needs me as an instrument in his hands and He hasn't forsaken me, he is polishing me so I can become ready for his work. I learned a lot about patience because the Lord works in mysterious ways that we can't understand. So when we are on the point of giving up, it is usually the point where we need to press on the most because that's when we can change and become better.
The work here is hard, I don't think I've had my heart broken in so many different ways as I had last week. From seeing people literally starving and sick, to seeing them reject something I know they can feel. It is hard to be a missionary but it is also so rewarding. The happiest part of my week came when a couple told us that they prayed together and that they feel this is right, what a marvelous feeling! They attended church on Sunday and we are continuing to teach them. It is amazing to see that when people turn to Christ, their life receives light and hope for the first time. I Feel I am growing with the people I teach because I learn so much as I share my experiences and testimony with them. This is a hard work but it's the best work I can be doing. Love you all! Sara

notes from mom - Sara answered lots of random questions in an email to us, thought I would share info.- - - They live in a small apartment - just the two of them. They eat breakfast of cereal and an egg - a lady (Hermana Chavez) cooks a big lunch for them ALWAYS consisting of tortillas and then pasta or rice or salad or pollo. When Sara does not like something she sticks it in the tortilla and eats it anyway. They pay Hermana Chavez 15 quetz a day for lunch (about $1.90). they do not have time to have dinner but they have a snack at night usually around 9:20 when they get home. There is another lady who does their laundry for them. The missionaries wash their dishes outside but the have an shower which Sara is happy about - (not sure if that is inside or out . . .). They are the only missionaries in their ward. They walk everywhere. Although Sara is worried about her spanish she also told me that a lady asked her what part of Guatemala she was from - She was shocked Sara was from the states - so her Spanish must be ok :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pictures from first month in Guatemala

Market in Guatemala City
 Sara giving away her first Book of Mormon to a lady in the plaza in Guatemala City.

 Last night with the CCM District  April 2012


Okay, I'm finally a missionary! I'm sorry we weren't able to write last week but I finally received your package, THANK YOU SO MUCH. It was at the mission office with letters from Paige and President Hixson. And yesterday I received dearelders from Dave, Grandma/pa, Cole, Piage, Shauna and Austin. I also got letters from Annie Tenney, Baby Sarah and Cristina, Austin, Terri Lamp and the pictures from Jenna. Please let them know I got their letters and I really appreciate them! Unfortunately, I don't have stamps and sending letters is super hard because you have to get them to the AP's. So I won't be able to respond much anymore. But if they ask questions then I will try to answer them in my weekly email (which will be on Tuesdays, unless we are too busy.)

                  Now to give you the details! We left the CCM last Tuesday and the first night, all of the new missionary sisters stayed in a bunk house. Unfortunately, my bag was on another bus and after a long day, I arrived to the bunk house and realized I had no pajamas or clothes or anything for the night or the next day (but the elders assured me that it was okay because the bunk house had shampoo...............) But luckily I had your package so I could sleep with my tummy bear.

        I was then assigned to the Amatitlan zone and I am in a little residential area called La Mariposa. It is hilly and I wake up to a volcano every morning, it's pretty hot and there is a lot of walking involved. The houses are modest but have floors and are very colorful. In Mariposa, there are about 500 Guatemalan people and now one white person (me).
        My new companion is about 5 feet tall and is from Bolivia. She doesn't speak a lick of English but she loves singing American music. We have a lot of fruit flies everywhere and she was getting sick of them. So on P-Day, I was writing in my journal and she said, "Look." I then looked up to see her holding a machete and wearing an ice age hat. She then informed me that she was going to take care of the fruit flies and she started cutting down the plants in our backyard. It was funny but a little scary.
       I learned a couple things the past week. First of all, you know the song "la cucaracha, la cucaracha"? Yeah, I quickly learned that is wasn't just a fun word when there were three of them in our room. I also learned that I can eat tomatoes! It's kinda like dry-swallowing a big pill but I can do it and with time, I hope I can like them.
       My second day in the field, I contacted a bus! Which means I stood at the front and told everybody who we were and that we have an important message about Jesus Christ and that they could give us their address and we can pass by and share the message with them and their family. It was pretty scary since I'm still not super comfortable with my Spanish but I did it! My Spanish is improving and it is hard to type in English (my journal entries are now Spanglish). But tell Andy that I will try to remember how to speak Spanish because I "might need it when I get back." ;) The buses are crowded and pretty crazy because there are so many people. I know Nate missed surfing when he was here but if he rode the buses at all then his balance would improve even more!
       I'm still reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish but it's taking so long! I hope to finish it soon because it is really helping my Spanish!
I love being out here! I'm always tired, hungry, confused and HAPPY. Although I can't speak Spanish that well, I can teach about Christ and I always know what to say in lessons. It's amazing that I can share what I know in a different language. I love you all! I will try to send pictures now but I'm not quite sure how...

Here is another quick story she sent to me in a short email:
during a lesson last week, i pulled out a picture of you and dad that i keep in my scriptures. we were teaching a family that has been taking lessons for two years but havent committed to being baptized. we were talking about the importance of baptism and how families can be together forever. i showed them the picture (the one of dad kissing you on the cheek) and told them that because of my parents decisions, i can be with them forever. and i am here in guatemala because i want other families to be together forever. the wife then said that she would pray about eternal families and that if she receives an answer and feels the spirit, she will be baptized. the father is a little bit more hesitant but we will work with him. i miss you and am so happy that i am yours.