Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May 27, 2013 - "A very good place to start"

Hola!! Como estan? Espero que todo estebien!
So.... where do I even begin. This week was....long.
Every week we have a day when we spend the whole morning, and up until 3 just planning the week. The entire week. And we have to have a plan for every hour of every day. Well, you can imagine, that being new to the area, not knowing faces to the names in the area book, and not being able to tell the difference from one street to the next, I didn't exactly have an idea of where to start. So I decided to start from the very beginning. since "that's a very good place to start".
This week was another very emotional and crazy one. We had a lot of low points, but also a lot of high points. Oh the joys of the roller coaster.
For starters. We have one of our investigators, her name is Justina. I met Justina for the first time my second week here. She is the greatest! And she has the most amazing story. So she and her family came here from Mexico several years ago, but then her son had some problems with addictions, and he and her husband decided to go back to Mexico to get everything sorted out. So fast forward to last year, the missionaries in Mexico found her son and her husband. They were then baptized 6 and 9 months ago. After that, they were praying and praying that somehow missionaries would find Justina and the rest of their family here in Kent. They sent in a referral to the church system, but somewhere along the way the referral was lost and  never made it here. about a month and a half ago, the sister missionaries that were here before me were knocking doors, and they found Lorena (Justina's daughter) at their house. She was very apprehensive at first, and wasn't even going to let them in. But then something told her to listen to them. So she and her mom started taking the lessons.
When I met her, I seriously couldn't figure out why she wasn't already a member! She is incredible! She has so much faith in Jesus Christ, and is so prepared and willing to learn and do whatever it takes to follow Christ. During my first lesson with her we talked about faith and the atonement. Then, before I could even ask, she said that she knew she needed to be baptized. But then she said that she didn't know when she wanted it, because she wants her husband and son to be here, but they have no idea when they'll be able to move back here because it's so expensive. She really opened up and told us everything, she was crying, laughing, and was just so raw and honest. It was a major turning point for me because I could feel of the love that I have for her, but more importantly of Heavenly Father's love for her.Her spirit was so strong, and we expressed that we understood, but that we know the importance of being baptized and taking that step so that she can one day go to the temple with her husband and family.
She said she knew it was true, but that she still was unsure. We told her to pray, and to really ask God what he wanted her to do. Then we invited her to come to church again on Sunday.
That was on a Tuesday. On Thursday we had another meeting with her, we talked about the doctrine of Christ, and the steps that we need to take in this life, we talked about some of the commandments, she's very diligent in her reading, and had a lot of questions about the commandments and the consequences of not living them. She's so smart, and she just gets it! We asked her if she'd thought anymore about her baptism, she said she'd prayed, but she still just wasn't sure. We encouraged her to keep doing all the things she's been doing, and promised her that Heavenly Father would answer her prayers.
She came to church that Sunday, and in Sunday School we watched the Joseph Smith Movie. She was so actively engaged in the movie, and really took it to heart. And in Relief Society and Sacrament, she just is so eager to learn and absorb everything.
Tuesday we went to her house and had a lesson with a family from the branch, the Lopez Family. They were awesome and so inviting. She opened up and just told us all about her feelings about Joseph Smith and the restoration, and how she knows it's all true. Then, she turned to us and said "I'm ready to be baptized, don't I need to have a discussion or an interview or something?" It totally took us off guard. President Lopez turned to us, and repeated what she'd just said. Pretty sure I got a super goofy grin, and we stammered out "oh, yeah, let's uh, set that up." in my head I was just shouting for joy that she'd finally gotten the answer. She is so prepared, so amazing, and I know for a fact that she's taught me WAY more than I've taught her.  
Long story short, she is being baptized THIS Saturday, June 1. We are all so excited, they announced it in church yesterday, and she was just glowing! She's an incredible example to me and is going to be such a great example to all of the rest of her family.
Stories and moments like this help remind me that there really are people out there that are prepared by the Lord to receive this gospel. There are so many that aren't and a lot of times we go whole days without talking to anyone. It's hard to repeatedly have doors slammed in your face, people laugh at you, tell you what you're doing is crazy and a waste of time. It's hard. Especially when you know that they're all God's children and that he loves them. Sometimes agency is a funny thing.
I was reading this morning the talk that President Uchtdorf gave in the Young Women's General Broadcast: "Your Wonderful Journey Home" I loved how he said "Every life is a collection of journey stories". I think about that a lot actually, how every day, even the small and seemingly insignificant moments are all a part of our "journey". Every person that I meet has an impact on my life, and I hope that in some small way, I can impact theirs. He talks about our purpose in this life and how we have the opportunity to have "the good news" He says "Life can be difficult, and it can harden hearts to the point where certain people can seem unreachable. Some may even be filled with anger. Others may mock and ridicule those who believe in a loving God. But consider this: though they do not remember, they too at one time yearned to return to their Father in Heaven." That is what keeps me going. Every day, 9.7 times out of 10, people don't want to listen, many don't even let us finish saying who we are. But I know that they are all children of our Heavenly Father, and that he loves them so perfectly. It breaks my heart to think that they knew it once, and they just can't quite get there now, I'll admit sometimes I catch myself saying "Maybe if I was more pushy" "Maybe if I knew Spanish better", maybe this.... but President Uchtdorf says it perfectly "It is not your responsibility to convert anyone. That is that work of the Holy Ghost. Your task is to share your beliefs and to not be afraid..." That's what I'm doing, every hour of every day, searching for that one person that is prepared and waiting to hear the gospel, from me. I know that even on those hard days, the Lord is by my side. I know because on the days when it's the hardest, there's a voice pushing me "Keep knocking", "Keep walking", "Go talk to that person", "I love you." For some reason, I've been so blessed during my mission with a strength and a desire to go on that I never knew I had before. And I know that it's not me. I'm just the mouthpiece. But I'm so grateful that I have the promise that when I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, when I'm trying and giving all that I have, then, when I've done my part, the Lord makes up for the rest. And he does. Every day I see his hand in my life. I'm so grateful for his faith in me, even with all of my imperfections, he is aware of me, and never lets me forget it.
I love this work, this gospel, my Savior, Jesus Christ, I love the people of Washington, I love that I get to wake up every morning and put on a name tag, with the name of my Savior, and represent him every day. I love all of you, more than words could ever express.
I hope that you're all well, safe, happy, and knowing and feeling of my love and the Lord's love for all of you.
Te Amo Muchisimo!
Your Hermana C

May 27, 2013 - 5+ Q and A's

1. Any visa news yet? If you do hear, try and let us know as soon as possible so that I do send any more packages ie; birthday box..yay 21!!!!!!No news yet on my visa.... I'm sure I'll be able to tell you as soon as I know anything...hopefully. I still haven't gotten any packages, because our zone leaders have to go to the mission office in Bellevue to get them, and I'm not sure how often they go and do that...
2. Did any of the shoes I sent work? Should I just send you a pair of keds and what size? How will I get the ones back that didn't work from you. Mail it slow back so it doesn't cost you very much!
Still have not gotten shoes...hopefully they'll be able to get them to me this week.
3. Did you do anything for memorial day ? You know we love holidays!:)Nope, it's just another pday/crazy day here. We have an INSANE week this week, and so there will be lots to "prep" for.
4. Do you know how much we love you?:) LOTS
 Yes, I do. And I hope that you can feel my love too, every every day.
5. How many baptisms have you been to this week?I still have not been to any baptisms.... the explanation for that will be in the following "long" letter.
6. What are you eating?
I eat sooooo much cereal and granola bars... we don't really even have time for meals, and I just have to snack all day. There are days when I wonder how I have energy. Apples and peanut butter and protein bars are literally my saving grace these days. oh, and watermelon :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

May 20, 2013-I am a Child of God

Hola Todos!
So I'll probably say this in every letter, but time here in the field is the weirdest thing. I feel like it's been forever since I've had any contact with you, but at the same time I cannot believe that it is already the end of May!  This week was so full of amazing, hard, exciting, weird, crazy, awesome, miracle-y things!
I don't even know where to begin...
The work here is really interesting, definitely different than I was prepared for. Because we live in such a diverse area, we contact, tract, and talk to everyone, which means that the majority of people we come in contact with are not Spanish speaking. Which in one way honestly scares me, but I know that everyone needs this gospel, and I love meeting people! I have never seen so many different lifestyles and types of people in my life. And every single person I talk to teaches me so much and helps to redefine my purpose as a missionary. 
I was reading during personal study in Alma, and I read Alma 23-26. Alma 26 is one of my all-time favorites, and is so powerful to me as a missionary. In verse 3, Ammon talks about the  "blessing" of being an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I love that word, because honestly the opportunity to be a missionary is such a blessing. I've always loved and admired the example of Ammon, Alma, and the sons of Mosiah, and the amazing missionaries that they are. Yet, they always remember that this is the Lord's work, and that we are merely the instruments. I love in verse 16: When Ammon talks about how the Lord is so amazing and powerful. He has done and continues to do so much for me and for all of his children. "Who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold..."I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."
This is how I feel every day. This work is without a doubt THE hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I honestly feel so insignificant, so small, I am amazed that I was called to be a missionary. I've never been a missionary before, I don't know how to be a missionary, but I'm trying my best, and like he promised, the Lord is providing a way for me to "do the things he has commanded". 
Every day I witness miracles, some greater than others. But at the end of the day when I kneel down to pray, and thank my Heavenly Father for the blessings that He's given me, I am amazed at how much I have to thank him for and talk to him about, EVERY single day.
One thing that amazes me is the simple truths of the gospel. I meet Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, Born-Agains, and religions that I didn't even know existed. But every one of them has so much faith in Jesus. It's hard because they don't want to listen to what I have to say, but there are times when I'm motivated by the faith that others have, and the hope that keeps them going every day. Something I've noticed is a common trend is that at the door, when we ask people "What is most important to you?" or "What blessings has God given you in your life?" The answer is almost always "Family".
This makes it easy for me to relate with a lot of them, because that's my answer too. You all know how much I love you, and how much I miss you, and it always hits my heart when I say "As a missionary, I leave my family for 18 months..." It's hard, and I think of you often, but just like all of those other people, you are my motivation, my rock, my support system, and my hope. I want to be a missionary so that others can have an eternal family like I do. 
We had a lot of interesting experiences this week. Two of our most promising investigators decided that they no longer want to take lessons, or be baptized. It hurts. It hurts when someone you grow close to and come to love decides that it just isn't worth it anymore. It's hard to see how hard Satan is working on the hearts of the people. 
But at the same time, it amazes me every day to see the people that are so prepared for the gospel, that are just waiting for someone to knock on their door.
President Larkin each week will usually call us with some inspiration, with a challenge to go out and find more people. One day he told us that Saturdays were for finding families. That if we would try our hardest, the Lord would give each of us 1 family for the next seven Saturdays. On Saturday, all but one of our appointments fell through. So we tracted. It was POURING rain. we were soaked, freezing, and hungry and tired. We'd gone 3 hours with no luck, no one wanted to talk, no one spoke Spanish. We went to go to a lesson, and our appointment fell through. So, all out of plans, and back-up plans, we decided to stay where we were, and push through. We knocked the first four trailers, and nothing. Then, we realized it was time to go home. On our way out, I turned to Hermana Hansen, and said, we promised we'd find a family, and we need to invite one more person to be baptized today. So we went to one last door, knocked, and Jose answered the door. We told him who we were, and he asked us some questions, we talked about his family, and what he needed in his life. He let us teach him a little bit about the restored gospel, and then, we committed him to be baptized. He agreed to a lesson this next week with his FAMILY!!
It was one of those stories you hear about "the last door"... but honestly, our long day in the rain made finding him just that much more sweet!
I know that God answers prayers. That he hears us. That he shows us his love in little ways throughout every hour of every day. I've seen it. 
Sometimes he doesn't answer us right away, but in his timing, and in his way, he shows us the things that we need to do.
All this week I've been thinking a lot about the promise I made to be a missionary. We talked in a mission meeting about how before we came to earth, there were some, our friends, that agreed to come to earth without the gospel in their lives. In return, we promised to be missionaries, and go out and find them. I found myself thinking back to the quote by C.S. Lewis: "It is a serious thing to live in a society of potential Gods and Goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which...you would be strongly tempted to worship...THERE ARE NO ORDINARY PEOPLE."
Every time I sing "I am a Child of God" to someone on the street, or at their door, I am amazed at the power in that Primary song. I know that it's true, and that's the reason I'm here, to help others to see their divine heritage and potential, as a Child of God. With the opportunity one day to become "even as he is". 
I love you all so very much. I pray for you daily, and I thank my Heavenly Father for the great blessing that you are in my life. I couldn't do this without you, and I hope that you can feel of the miracles and blessings that come from this gospel and from the sacrifice of missionary work. I know that my time out here is so precious, and I'm working hard to make every minute count.
Para Siempre Dios Este Con Vos.
Les Quiero, MUCHISIMO!
Your Hermana C

May 20, 2013-5+ Q and A's

1. What languages have you experienced so far? This mission is CRAZY! There are seriously so many people here! We go tracting, and literally yesterday we were laughing that every door we opened had someone from a different country. Russia, India, Cambodia, Marshall Islands, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Mexico, Ghana, you name it, they've got it.
2. Did you find any strange fungi growing in your apartment when you cleaned?(DAD)
Our apartment had LOTS of fun things growing. I honestly don't know how long it had been since they cleaned, and I kind of sabotaged our shower curtain (on accident) because it was so gross. I don't know why I'm such a germaphobe, I should probably get over that soon...
3. Did you get a chance to shop for shoes yet? No, we aren't allowed "culture days" here in the Seattle mission...meaning we can't sight see or do anything of the sort on p days. So....mom, my one set of oxfords completely ripped, I still wear them, but my heel and toe are poking out (all part of the experience, right)...but if you could go maybe to Forever Young and find me a pair of new oxfords or send me the other pair of brown ones, that would be awesome.
4. Did you get the package that I sent?  Look for it today or in the next few days! I haven't gotten ANY snail mail yet. It's way sad, I don't know how it works as far as going through the mission home, but hopefully in the next couple days.
5.How does it work to ask someone to be baptized on your first visit before they even have all the information etc.???
We commit them when we meet them. So yesterday I committed someone for June 22, that way they have time to come to church 3 times, and then take lessons and progress. It's crazy how it all works!
6. How big is your area right now and did you get the air fixed on your car? Do you drive or your companion?  Do you feel settled?Are you living out of your suitcase until your VISA comes?
We got our air conditioning fixed today. turns out nothing was wrong, they just had to adjust the controls. My companion drives... no. I'm still living out of my suitcase, and honestly have no idea when my visa will come. Sometimes I wonder if I'll be here forever, but Jaden got her visa last week on tuesday, and on thursday was on a plane and is now in Peru...so who knows>??

Monday, May 13, 2013

May 13, 2013-1st week in Kent, Washington!

Hola Todos! 
Wow, there is so much I have to say. Washington is....something else. It's funny to be out here, somewhere completely different than what I was "trained" for. I'm in the Washington Seattle Mission, but definitely not in Seattle, I'm in a little town called Kent. It has been one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. There are so many different kinds of people here. The first day, our mission president told us that there are over 170 languages that are spoken throughout the mission, and all you need to do is walk outside to know that that's the truth. Maybe I'm just a little "sheltered Utah girl", but it's amazing. 
I really don't even know where to begin.
The first few days were really just a blur. My companion is Hermana Hansen, she's from Pennsylvania. She got here a transfer ahead of me, and was in a trio with two native speakers. They both got reassigned, and she got called to be a trainer. The first thing she told me was "Well, I haven't really had to know Spanish..." (gulp). So we drove to our little apartment here in Kent. Dropped off my stuff, and then got to work. We had 4 appointments that night with a bunch of investigators that she'd taught with her other companions. As we went to each house, there were no answers at any of the doors. She was very discouraged, but I was just still in my "Stoked-to-be-a-missionary" mode.  We went home that night, and I was determined to make the next day better.
Day 2... So we start the day off with our studies and planning sessions. We made our plans to go and see investigators, and then the afternoon we were going to tract. The day started out a lot like the first day...no answers. Then, we got to Jorge's house. He and his wife, and their two daughters were there, along with his cousin. We taught him about the Book of Mormon, and asked him to be baptized. The rest of our appointments fell through, and right before tracting we had a little moment of humility. I told my poor, very overwhelmed companion that we should pray.  We needed a change of pace. So we decided on a place to tract, and we were able to get a few referrals. One in particular was Eric, We knocked, and he started speaking broken English, so we told him we could speak Spanish. So we told him our message, and he seemed really interested, so we got his information, and agreed on an appointment in a few days. Then he told us "I know that God is the reason my life is good, I have a lot of friends that have gotten into bad things in their lives, but I've never had a problem with drugs, alcohol, the law or anything like that." I wanted to just say "Want to be baptized right now??"
We went home that night tired, but the end of the day had picked up, and gave me hope that there really are people out there ready to be taught.
Day 3... After a couple days of the unknown and really just not knowing what to do. I was reading in my personal study a talk that Mikell had sent me by Elder Bednar: "In the Strength of the Lord." It really helped me to realize that once again, I'm not in charge. I don't know everything, obviously. But I just keep saying to myself, "I may not know all the reasons behind this, but I can't complain, get discouraged, or frustrated. There is something to be learned from all of this." I keep going back to what it says in my patriarchal blessing; "You will have the opportunity to serve as a full-time missionary. You will need to be patient, but when the time is right, that blessing will come to you." I've had several times throughout this process where I thought I knew what that meant:
- waiting to turn 21
- waiting almost 5 1/2 months with my call
- now waiting to go to Argentina
There is some reason I'm here in Kent, someone that needs MY help, MY experiences. I'll find them. And I'm determined to live up to the promises that come from being an obedient and hard-working missionary.
Today again was a little bit rough, all our lessons fell through, our first tracting place was..well, rough. Honestly, I don't know ANYTHING about how to be a missionary...but I do know that what my teachers at the MTC taught me was "It's okay to have sad moments...MOMENTS. but get over it and work. "FORGET YOURSELF and GO TO WORK!"" This isn't easy, but it doesn't have to be miserable.
So I told her we should try tracting at the same place that we'd found several people a few days earlier. I told her that what I try and do when something isn't working is try something new. If you just keep doing the same things over and over, with no results ever, do something different.
(This is the story I already told you about all the people we met that were having bad days too).
Day 4....
I woke up this morning determined to make things happen today. It's a new day! During my personal studies first thing this morning, I was reading in Alma 8: 13-18. I won't type all of it...but in v. 14 it says: "weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation, and anguish of soul..." Then in v. 15: "Blessed art thou [Courtney]; therefore lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice...." I have the good news, I'm a MISSIONARY for crying out loud. That's the whole reason I'm here, to bring others to a knowledge of the good news! Then in v. 18 it's talking about when Alma was commanded to go back to the city, rather than thinking of himself, it says "He returned SPEEDILY... and he entered in by another way." In the margin I wrote "He submitted to the will of God, not thinking about himself. And... what did he do when the first way didn't work? HE TRIED SOMETHING NEW." I LOVE the scriptures! This was so perfect for me! 
Then after our studies, we got a voice mail from our mission president telling us that he promised us that there were people prepared for us today. 3 per person to be exact. He gave us the challenge to go get em!
Just like in past days, all of our scheduled appointments fell through. During contacting, we had a few really interesting experiences. But then, we decided on a place to tract. During our hour and a half of tracting, we put 5 people on-date for baptism. 5! It was so cool! As we knocked on doors, it was made apparent that there really were people ready and waiting to hear what we had to say.
We met one man, who looked really rough around the edges, I even told Hermana Hansen of my nervousness about talking to him. but then once we got talking, he showed real interest. I bore my testimony to him of the awareness that God has for us in our lives. He said that we could come back to teach him, and I asked him to be baptized. He said YES. It was such a cool experience to be able to (very simply) testify and teach him of God's love for him. 
Throughout the day, the assistants would send what they call "miracle blasts" to all of us. Each companionship, when they have their "miracle" records a little voice message, and they send it to everyone in the mission. It was so incredible, our phone was ringing non-stop with all of the success stories throughout the mission. President's promise was real!
It was getting to be our last minutes of tracting, and we still needed to find our one last person to commit to baptism....
We came around the corner in a neighborhood, and I saw a bunch of little Hispanic kids riding their bikes. We walked down there, and they rode away, but we followed them to a really long driveway. We looked down and could see parents standing there, so we walked down. As we came to the end, we realized there was a whole, huge family standing there. They just kept appearing! and of course, all of them were staring at the girls walking down the driveway. So I walked up to the grandma, and introduced us, and we started talking, some of the uncles immediately told us they weren't interested, but the grandma and some of the daughters were nice. We asked if we could sing them a song (So apparently this is a "singing mission" we sing all the time. It's a fear of mine, but I am learning that my fears and my comfort zone do not mean a thing!) So we decided to sing I am a child of God. In the beginning, kids were jumping around everywhere, some of the adults were rolling their eyes, and it was just pure chaos. But then, as we kept singing, the spirit was so strong. and everyone got silent and gathered around. We finished singing, and they thanked us for the song. We bore testimony, and invited them to church. But as soon as we did that, the chaos started again, and they told us that they were too devoted to their Catholic church. So we gave them a pass-along card with our info, and then we wished them a good night and left.
Long story short, we didn't get our final person that night. But the experience with that family was amazing.
The spirit is the only way this work gets done. I know it. Who knew that two tone-deaf girls singing Primary songs would be able to touch people's hearts so much.
Miracles are all around us. I can't wait to find more.
So I'll continue this letter in a hand-written one. The computers here are really weird with timers. 

I love you all so much! I'm so glad I got to see your cute faces last night!
Thank you for all of your love and support. I know I say this every time... but I mean it I couldn't do this without all of you and your encouragement.
Les quiero MUCHO!
Con mi Amor, Siempre.
Your Hermana C

Mount Rainier 

Seattle Washington

Mother's Day Skype!

Friday, May 3, 2013

May 3, 2013-iHola Todos!

iHola Todos! (otra vez.) This week, as to be expected, has been a crazy one. Every one's buzzing with the excitement of reassignments, we had our 8 hour in-field orientation yesterday (that was eye-opening), and on top of that our zone was passing around a nasty bug, which I thought I'd escaped, pero no, but not to worry, thanks to my handy-dandy witchdoctor kit, Niagara Falls is no longer, however my Rudolph nose is lingering evidence of my mean battle with my sinus. Can I just say it's really inconvenient when you can't run out of class to blow your nose alone? Nope, you get a three-person train, my poor companeras. Also, as you well know by my change in P-days (so sorry about that, they didn't give us a heads up) we're all trying to adjust to this new, and less-than-desirable new schedule. At the change of the semesters at BYU they change teachers, shifts, and our schedules, too. All of our classes, meetings, and meals are now 2 hours earlier, so we have to wake up earlier than 6:30, and we eat dinner at 4:15....Yeah, it's super different than our old schedule. We're counting our blessings that we only had it for a week.
This week has been great though, as all weeks at the MTC. Actually if I'm going to be honest, I'm really going to miss it here. I mean, I'm glad I'm not staying here forever, but the experiences I've had here are priceless, and I know that I couldn't have had them anywhere else.
This week we had two more awesome devotionals. On Sunday we had Stephen B. Allen from the Missionary department. He talked about how we are at war. He told the story of when he was working in a Stake Presidency and he was at a drinking fountain one day. He said a little boy came to the drinking fountain next to him, and he had the thought to press down on his button. This made the little boys' stream of water go down significantly. So Elder Allen let go, and the fountain rose up, and nailed the little boy in the face! The little boy wiped off his face, and naively tried again and again, 5 times. Still never figuring out who was causing him so much grief. He compared this to all of us. "We are at war." and Satan knows all of our buttons. I really liked this analogy, because while God knows each of us personally, and the things that we need, Satan does too. And he wants nothing more than for us to be "miserable like unto himself". I've seen the reality of this concept in my time here in the MTC. Satan works hard on all of us, but especially once you've made the decision to serve, and have that black tag over your heart, he ups his game.
There are so many aspects to being a missionary that you really can't ever explain to someone. We all have to experience them for ourselves. He related the story of Alma, in Alma 26. This is the chapter often referred to as Alma's homecoming address. While Alma is expressing his thanks to God for helping him to be an effective missionary, he goes on later in the chapter to discuss the feelings he had as a missionary. He used the words "depressed" and "about to turn back". Elder Allen expressed the importance of these statements. As missionaries, these thoughts are completely normal, natural, and every GOOD missionary will have them at one time or another. But then he said this "Remember, having these thoughts is not what is bad, acting on them is what would make it bad." I loved how he emphasized that every GOOD missionary has these thoughts. Satan is working so hard to stop this work, and now, more than ever, he is threatened. WE are threatening him, we are fighting, fighting hard to win this war, and right now, we're are making great strides. But that doesn't mean that it's going to be easy. I've always loved the scripture "Bear with patience thine afflictions. I will give unto you success." It all goes back to that idea of humility. Realizing that we can't do this on our own. Accepting help is something I've never been good at, I'd way rather help others than try and allow others to see me vulnerable. But being here has been a reality check for me. That attitude can't exist as a missionary. I've had so many times when that thought has come into my head "Courtney (oops, Hermana Cox), be patient. Be patient with yourself, with the language, with these silly 18-year-old elders. I'm giving you these challenges, these hurdles, to test you, I know you can do it, do you?" It's pretty amazing how well my father in Heaven knows me. ME. and what I need. He's put so many amazing and wonderful people in my life here at the MTC. I've learned so much about love, compassion, trust, forgiveness, hope, and charity.
Then Elder Allen talked about "Provation", he asked us all what it meant, and if you're like me, you probably didn't know. A provation is something that you've voluntarily given up. So he had a few missionaries come up and talk about the things that they'd given up to come on a mission. A lot of them were "family", "school", and then one elder got up and said "I gave up my girl!" and Elder Allen goes "Yes. You did. And on behalf of all the return missionaries, thank you for the donation!" We all laughed. But then he turned it serious. He said "You promised that you would do this work with ALL your heart, might, mind, and strength' did you not? Pull the foot that's at home, and bring it here. This is your time, and it's time to conform your will to be HIS will. Bury your weapons of rebellion. You can't have it both ways." It was very straightforward, and he really emphasized how we have to be on the offense. We need to do all we can to bring ourselves the greatest chance for success, and that means being fully committed. He drove it home, but then said "I know it will be hard. but obey, don't murmur. I promise that if you give it all to Him, then will come your greatest joy and hope. Don't let him down."
I LOVE when speakers get up there, and in a loving but very firm way, bring us to reality. It's very sobering to keep hearing that this isn't about us. This isn't our work. The Lord is the one in charge.
I know that that's true with my whole heart. I know that this is going to be hard, but I'm excited to be able to put aside everything for this work. We all make sacrifices to be here, and I can't think of a more noble cause to sacrifice for.
Yo se que Jesucristo es mi Salvador y Redentor. Estoy agradecido por Su expiación y por Su amor y ayuda en mi vida. Yo se que no puede hacer este trabaja por mi mismo y tengo muchas gracias por las cosas he aprendido aqui en el CCM. Yo se que José Smith fue un profeta de Dios, y Thomas S. Monson es el profeta en nuestro dia. Estoy muy agradecido por mi familia (ustedes) y por su apoyo y amor para mi y mi decision a servir una mision. Gracias por su fe en mi y mi abilidades, no estoy perfecto, pero yo se que a traves de ayuda de Dios puedo hacer todas cosas. Estoy muy animado por la oportunidad voy a Seattle y Argentina (eventualmente), estoy animado por la oportunidad traigo este evangelio a la genre allí. 
I love you all so very much. Thank you for the continued love, support, laughs, and prayers. I couldn't do this without you.
Nos Vemos Pronto (We'll see each other sooner than you think!) Les quiero, Mucho!
Con Mucho Amor, Your Hermana Courtney

May 3, 2913 Seattle reassignment! Q and A's of the week

Hi there baby girl,  How amazing was it to hear your voice!  4 minutes just wasn't enough. However, a whole day wouldn't be enough.  I was looking at the email every 20 minutes all day long waiting for your news, any news.  
You sounded so happy and good.  I know you might be a bit disappointed that you are not heading straight to Mendoza. I also know that you are ready  to leave your time in the MTC and begin teaching whoever you are being sent to find in Seattle.  I am so proud of how you are handling all the changes and uncertainty!  
I've been thinking of Seattle all night. It is so beautiful.  Unpack your poncho!  I actually looked up the weather for the first five days that you will be there. Tuessday 71 degrees and 0% chance of rain.  Wednesday 68 with 10% chance, then Thursday 70 with 0% and so on.  Also, lows in the mid 50's at night!
Seattle Perks...
1. your poncho is cute!
2. you will see where dad grew up a little
3. its' gorgeous sea side
4. there is tons of fish to eat! So eat up before you go to Beef country Argentina!
5. you might actually get packages there!
6. you can shop for shoes
7. there are people in Seattle that need YOU!
8. a second mini-mission experience what a bonus

Anything ELSE?

I'd thought of all of the above things.
9. the weather is supposed to be nicer than here in UT, go figure.
10. it will help me prepare for lots of rain in Mendoza winter.
11. there are lots of interesting people in Seattle, I'm excited for the diversity.
12. It's not an overwhelmingly BIG city. If I'm being honest I was so nervous about getting sent to Chicago, I'm not a city girl. Seattle will be perfecto! 

Hola Todos!! It was so great to be able to talk to all of you for that BRIEF 5 minutes yesterday! Mom everyone at the front desk was laughing as I held the phone at arms length waiting for you to stop screaming! I'm sad I didn't get to talk to dad and Ry, but I'll be calling Tuesday, so everyone be ready! Wow, I have so many thoughts going through my head right now. The last week has been nothing short of insanity!! First of all, I want to thank you all for the letters. They brought huge smiles to my face, and I was so thoroughly impressed with all of the boys' awesome handwriting!! Que Bueno! I'll write you all back later today in between my packing and craziness!
So I'll just answer all of your numbered questions:

1. Do you know what areas in Seattle you will be in?  Maybe Bellevue where Dad lived?  Bellevue is in the Seattle mission, I noticed that when i looked at the map yesterday. The area is seriouly so cool! and part of the San Juan Islands are in my mission (padres).
2. Where are the others from your district going? Elders Varney and Wengert are headed to Manchester, New Hampshire. Such a cool call, they leave Monday morning, they're way excited! Elder Rasmussen is going to Tempe, Arizona. Which is where he grew up, so he was stoked! Elder Curtis is going to Orlando, Florida. The district just older than us in our zone went there, so chances are he'll meet up with them. Hermana Cooley and I are going to Seattle, along with two other girls that are going to Mendoza, we're really excited! With all of the excitement about reassignments, there is a bitter sweetness as we realize we have to leave while Hermana Tanner stays here. She didn't get a reassignment, and so she's here at the MTC for at least another week.
3. What is your general feeling or any information about the timeline for VISA?They seriously give us NO information about Visas. We could be in Seattle for 2 dias or 7 months. It's slightly frustrating being left so in the dark regarding our missions, but I'm honestly so excited to get out en el campo and get to work!
4. Do you want to shop for shoes in Seattle?  I'm thinking I might need to shop for shoes, so we could make it work that would be fantastico!
5. Are you going to leave a box of items that won't fit? Yes, Everyone was saying that there's a service here in the MTC where you pack up your stuff in a box and then they hold it at a place where someone can come pick it up. We're going to get more info about that later, so I'll let you know by the end of today.
6. Did you get the card reader, muddy buddies, Mary's package, Mikell's package etc? YES! I got all of them! Everyone says Muchas Gracias for the muddy buddies, they saved us during in-field orientation!
I got Mary's package, too! I was laughing so hard because I turned to my companions and guessed what was inside! She knows me too well, beef jerky and mangoes. I was in heaven!
I got Mikell's too! It was so funny because I went a few days without anything, and then all on the same day I got 3 packages and like 6 letters. It was a good day! I was so happy to see cute little letters from Kenna and Brooke!
7. What is your final request list for items needed before you leave on tuesday that I can send same day MOnday;
     a. deep blue lotion  b. digestzen  c. ??converter  I think I'm good with "stuff" for now. I seriously have enough boxes to move a house!
8. Why did your pday-day change from Thursday to Friday this week?They changed our entire schedule this week, the whole MTC. They bumped us up 2 hours, so breakfast and classes and everything started before we even had time for breakfast! It's been nuts, but that's what happens when you have more people than available beds!!
9. Did you get the boys letters this week? I got all of the letters from the boys! Thank you thank you so much! I loved them. I was so impressed with everything that you are all doing! Keep up the hard work!
10.You are on for the June newsletter.  Do you want me to take a piece of one of your letters this time or will you want to write me a separate email for the newsletter? I'll think about what I want to do for the newsletter. I'd rather not have it be parts of my personal letters to you (familia), but no tengo tiempo!!
Oh, so I have something for you to tell Joel and Julie. My companion from St. George, Hermana Tanner, is best friends with their nephew Porter, and knows Jake, too. Small world.
Well, I'll write more later, our day is split into 30 minute sections today. It's not a real p-day, we still have class and stuff. Super loco!!
Les quiero mucho!! Gracias por su amor y apoyo!!
Con mi amor, Your Hermana Courtney

This one time, Hermana Tanner and I decided it would be a great to do our hair in braids.... Sacajawea/Heidi/5 year old??

Our cute district and all the awesome girls in our zone!

SURPISE!! Embroidered towels ;)-Thanks Mary!