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 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!

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