Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September 24, 2013 letter

¡Hola familia!
I´m not dead - we didn´t get to email last week. You may have gotten a picture of me with President and Sister Brough. They´re really sweet. President Brough´s "advice" (I don't know what else to call it is) for our mission is to baptize and retain (bautizar y retener). And work hard. he told us last Tuesday that we were going to have blisters - and he was happy about it. I am too. It´s a great mission. We walk fast (more like run) half the time and run the other half. 
What a week - it´s been one week since I left the CCM and what a week it has been. Last Tuesday, we went to President Brough´s house and had lunch, workshops, interviews, and then we went on splits with missionaries for 6-7 hours. It was so good. It rained on us. but that´s not new anymore. It rains almost everyday at 3 and rains for a while. 
My first area is Ribera del Rio - we have a volcano near us and part of the jungle in our area. My trainer is Hermana Cruz - she´s really patient with me as I try to speak Spanish and she´s sweet. She´s from Mexico. And my other companion (we´re in a  trio) is Hermana Carerra. She´s hilarious and is from Guatemala. My goal is to walk as fast as Hma. Cruz.
I have had so many spiritual experiences this past week that I don´t even know where to start. My testimony has grown so much in the past seven days. People sometimes don´t listen to us but, oddly enough, each time that happens, my testimony is strengthened and my desire to share the Gospel grows. This message is so true and can change lives for the better in ways that we can´t understand. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us so much and have given us prophets, scriptures, families, the Atonement, and so many other things to help us be happy now and to return to live with them. This is so true. I´m so grateful for the opportunity to tell people about the gospel and invite them to come unto Jesus Christ through living the Gospel and being baptized.
This past week, a quote from Elder Holland kept going through my head from an MTC devotional. The quote is something like, "Why is missionary work not easy? Because salvation is not a cheap experience." I  didn´t realize how true that was until now. Missionary work isn´t easy, but it is worth it. We - as missionaries - are on the forefront of a war that started before the creation of this world. People´s eternal lives are at stake and we are working to help them live with their families for eternity and return to live with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
I love you all and pray for you everyday! I hope everything is going well! I love you!
-Hermana Conover

[Answering some of her dad's questions about Michelle's mission.]
We get mail every 6 weeks during change meeting and sometimes in between during other meetings, so I don´t know when I´ll get your letter. But please send them! It´s nice to get handwritten letters because we can read them other than internet time.
There´s one Elder in my district from the states. He´s been here for 6 weeks and he´s from Oregon. The closest CCM person to me is a zone over, I think, but close. 
I love the mission. On Thursday, it was pouring rain, but I was so happy. The song "Tengo gozo en mi alma hay" (There is sunshine in my soul today) kept going through my head. It was pouring, but I was so happy and joyful. What better thing to be doing than to preach about Jesus Christ for the next 16.5 months?
We do a lot of contacting here - I have contacted a couple of buses (where you stand up front and say who you are, what our message is, and that we´ll be writing down people´s information) and a lot of people in the street. It´s intimidating, but you just have to take the plunge and do it.
The worth of souls is great in the sight of God (D&C 18:10, I think). When we teach people, I get a small glimpse of how Heavenly Father sees them. It´s beautiful. You teach to them and tell them about the message of the restored Gospel and love them. It´s beautiful. I know that this Gospel is true. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September 11th letter to family and friends

¡Hola, familia!

Only one week left in the CCM! I cannot believe how fast these six weeks have gone.
So many things happened this week. I don´t even know where to begin.

Well, something you have to try - grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with powdered sugar on the top. It. Is. Delicious. Seriously. You have to try it.

I memorized the First Vision and most of DyC 4 this past week. Exciting stuff.

We went to Walmart and a Food court on Tuesday. Wendy´s was just as delicious here as in the States. And the McFlurry´s, too.

This week, my favorite scripture is Alma 26:12 - "I will boast not of myself, but I will boast in the strength of my God". That definitely carried me through this week.

The earthquake was mild. It wasn´t that big where we were. It felt like a 3.5 or a 4 by the time we felt it and we didn´t feel the aftershock.
[about the earthquake from a  letter written to to Kelly>>] The earthquake was fun - I just thought my comp was shaking the table. It was great - our teacher didn't even notice that there was an earthquake.
[about the earthquake from a letter written to her dad>>] The earthquake wasn´t that big of a deal where we were. Our teacher didn´t even notice it happened. What was it, a 5.9? [mom's note--It was 6.5 with an after shock of 5.4]  It felt like a 3.5 or a 4 where we were. The Utah missionaries were freaking out a little bit, but our District Leader (from SoCal) and I started trading earthquake stories. It was fun!

On Sunday, we watched a devotional by Elder Bednar. His talk was about "Is it the Spirit or me?" because that is a question that - at one point or another - plagues EVERY missionary. He said to not worry about it. If you´re "a good boy, or a good girl, you´re keeping your covenants, you´re being obedient to the commandments, pressing forward with faith in Jesus Christ, then your mouth will be filled and you´ll be at the right place at the right time¨." It was a really good talk. He said that about four times with "Quit worrying about it."

Elder Packer has a talk (I think) about a "20 Marque Note" and it´s about Elder Bednar. You should find it. It´s a really good talk.

I love you all! The Church is true and the Atonement works for all afflictions and hardships in life!

I hope the fire near Mt. Diablo goes away soon!

Thanks for telling me about Mr. Coartney -[Mr. Coartney, Michelle's high school band director is a quarterfinalist in the Grammy Foundation Music Educator Award]  I love the quote he said about succeeding and life skills. Even after high school, that man is still teaching me.

And thanks for the news about everyone and what´s going on.

I love you all! Have a wonderful week! Read your scriptures, pray, and serve!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Conover

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fourth Week Report (Sept 2 2013)

¡Hola familia!
How was the baby blessing? How´s Kelly´s familiy doing? And Jen´s, Laura´s, and Seth´s?
This week was pretty good. I got sick on Thursday (aches, ear-aches, shivers, etc.), but I´m feeling a lot better now. Almost our whole district got sick (only 2 people haven´t so far), but esta todo bien.
Tomorrow for P-Day, we´re going to Wal-Mart and a food court. I have one word for the food court - Wendy´s. All the way. It´s going to be awesome. And we´re also going to a chapel in the morning to play sports and stuff. It´ll be good.
Spanish is coming along. We´re now teaching other missionaries as investigators and we act like investigators while they teach us. It´s good practice. I love it here in the CCM. It´s crazy to think that we only have two weeks left. And then the mission field. And solamente Español for real. It´ll be good.
We had fast Sunday yesterday. It was such a good experience. I bore my testimony in Spanish in our Sacrament Meeting - that was fun. Hermana Brewster didn´t want to go up by herself, so I went with her. She´s in my district - she´s really nice and sweet. Her Spanish is coming along well, too.
And we also watched "Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration" yesterday afternoon. It was SO GOOD. I always forget how good that movie is until we watch it again. All through the movie, everyone was crying. So, at the end of the movie and after we had been sitting in awkward crying silence for about a minute, I said, "For a message of happiness, we sure cry a lot." About half of the room started laughing. It was great.
This week, I really realized the sacrifices that have been made for this Gospel. People have died for the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith sealed their testimonies in their blood. Jesus Christ was crucified for His preachings and to fulfill the Atonement and Resurrection. Joseph Smith was tarred and feathered multiple times and people were forced from their homes. I also realized that while we give up a lot to be full-time missionaries for 18 months to 2 years, we are not asked to give up our lives. Yes, some missionaries die or are seriously injured, but they are in the minority. We are asked to give up little in comparison to what other people have given to this Gospel. Yes, it will be hard and yes, we will have trials and be rejected and have emotional and spiritual burdens to carry, BUT we are blessing the lives of many people in the field and at home. The devotional this past week was by Elder Anderson and one of the things he said was, "We sacrifice for the things we love and we love the things we sacrifice for." I know that I love this Gospel. I know that I love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I know that I love the Book of Mormon and I know that it is true. Some people don´t know of it´s truth or of the love that Heavenly Father has for them. That´s why we´re here - to teach the wonderful word of Salvation and to tell people of how they can return to their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and that their sins can be forgiven and that through the Atonement, they can be happy and clean. And that there are prophets and revelations and scriptures and love that they don´t know about that can make them so happy! this Gospel - this message - is one of happiness and I´m so grateful that I get to teach this 24-7 for the next 17 months.
I love all of you! I hope that everything is going well back home!
¡Esta todo bien!
-Hermana Conover

Third Week Report (Aug 28 2013)

¡Hola familia!
This week has FLOWN. I cannot believe that it has been three weeks since I left home and came to Guatemala.
So last P-Day we went to the Mercado - it was like Pike´s Market in Seattle but times 100 and with more colorful, hand-made things. We also went to The Map - it´s a relief map of Guatemala that someone did the surveying for in 1900 and was 99% accurate. It was so cool! We found our mission and we realized that half of it is some of the tallest mountains and the other half is really flat.
We´ve watched so many Devotionals and one of the best ones was by Elder Holland from 2010. It was excellent. his main message was to not miss a minute of your mission and that this is completely the Lord´s work. Even in the CCM, we can feel that this is definitely the Lord´s work.
Our class has a goal of speaking solamente Español from 10 in the morning to 9 at night. My head was hurting from speaking only Spanish yesterday, but it is a good experience to only be speaking Spanish.
My friend from Glenwood came into the CCM on Wednesday - it was fun to see her and to help her settle in and to catch up about friends and such. Her Spanish is already excellent adn she is going to do such wonderful work in her mission (East Mission)!
There´s a Hispaña here (Hermana Gonzales) and I showed her a few clogging steps and she calls me her ''Favorita Balerina'' now. She´s the sweetest. All the Hispañas are really sweet.
This past week has helped my testimony grow in so many ways. I know that I am here in Guatemala for a reason. As scary as it was to prepare and to accept the fact that I was going out of the country for a year and a half, I know that I am here to touch the life of at least one person. As Adam said that last night, ´´Find that one person you´re supposed to help, then after that, find the next one. Then the next.´´ It´s definitely true. And I know that this is completely the Lord´s work and that we have to give everything over to Him in order for us to be able to teach with the Spirit and allow the Spirit to teach. Our whole might, mind, heart, and strength. I also know - with more assurity now than ever before - that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that He died for our sins out of love for each and every one of us. The Gospel is true and I know that with all my corazón (heart). I love this Gospel and I love Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. I realized within the past few days that I wouldn´t be here if I didn´t love them,.
I love all of you and hope that you have fun with Kelly and the grandkids and thank you for your prayers. I´ve definitely felt them and it means a lot to me.
As I used to say all the time, ´´Está todo bien´´ (it´s all good). That´s probably my favorite Spanish phrase and I say it multiple times a day.
I love you! I´m praying for you, too!
Con mucho amor, Hermana Conover

Second Week Report (Aug 19 2013)

Hello family!

P-day is different this week because the Hispaños and some of the Norte Americanos are leaving tomorrow morning. I`m so sad they`re leaving -they`re so sweet - but it`ll be good. If you could email me on Sundays,
that would ensure that I would get emails. I love you all!

Anyway, this week went by SO FAST! First thing`s first - I sprained my ankle on Friday (I missed a step going out of the CCM). I`m doing fine -it`s barely hurting now and it`s wasn`t that bad to begin with, so don`t worry.

Last Wednesday was President Nicolayson`s (CCM President) birthday. They had a Mariachi group come in during lunch and play for us and the President. It was awesome and really good. I think I might start liking Mariachi music now. So, dad, majoring in Mariachi tuba might be a possibility. : )

Our investigator got passed off to the missionaries in his area and he`ll continue taking the lessons. It was an amazing experience teaching him, though. And I`m excited for him as he continues to learn about the Gospel.

We`re having our P-Day tomorrow, so we`re going to the Mercado and the Temple. In the CCM, you go to the Mercado once and Wal-mart once, every other Tuesday. It`s going to be fun!

This is for Seth and Jenna: was there a Fitzgerald family in Northgate 2nd ward while you were there? Because there`s an Hermana Anne Fitzgerald here who says Jenna was her Young Woman leader and was friends with Haley Rader, Jordan Hastings, and Kristy Lambert. Just wondering if you remember her. She`s going to the Retauleu mission.

The Spanish is coming along slowly but its definitely coming. As I keep telling the Hispanos, "Yo entiendo mucho pero hablando poco". I understand a whole lot more than I can speak, but it`s "poco a poco" when learning a language.

The weather here is sporatic. One minute it could be sunny and nice and the next, you hear an oncoming wall of rain, and then it`s pouring. It`s nice, though. It`s definitely "eternal spring" here in Guatemala.

We went to the Temple on Wednesday - it was so nice to go and I`m grateful we get that chance to go.

The high point of this week was Sunday. I love Sundays here. We watched "The Testaments" yesterday and "Legacy" and a devotional from the MTC in 2010 by Elder Bednar. During "The Testaments" when Christ is going through the Atonement, I became very aware of the fact that I wear His name everyday on mi placa (nametag) and it really hit me that I`m out here on a mission and that I am representing Jesus Christ in His work in the land of Guatemala. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here and I want to express how grateful I am from the support that I have from back home. There have been days where I get overwhelmed and then I think of all the prayers that are being said by mom, dad, and the rest of our family. It has definitely held me up during times of learning Spanish. And Elder Bednar`s devotional was superb. It was about doctrine, principles, and applications. It was so good. The main thing from it was "The answers (to the Gospel) are in the doctrine."

I`ve realized more of the reason that I am here. Before I came out here, people would ask why I`m going on a mission and I would say "To teach about Jesus Christ". That`s only part of it. You come on a mission and you learn to love the people that you are serving - your compañera, the people, the CCM and Mission President, and many other people. After teaching Daniel, I can say I love the people of Guatemala - I haven`t met them yet (other than those in the CCM) but I love this people. I cannot wait to go out into the
field and teach people about this wonderful Gospel that can change their lives for the better. It has changed mine and I am so grateful for it. My testimony has grown so much in the past two weeks and I know that it will grow so much before I even leave the CCM. I just have to remember to keep things in perspective and to keep doing what I`m supposed to be doing. As Hermana Godfrey (in my district) says, "This is the best time". It truly is.

I love you all and I hope that everything is going well back home!

With a whole lot of love, Hermana Conover

First Week (Aug 14 2013)

¡Holá mi familia y amigos!
It has been a whirlwind of a week, but it has been so wonderful! I cannot believe that it was a week ago today that I entered the CCM with wonderful people and started such an aamazing experience!
First thing`s first - mom, I have eaten tomatoes, green beans, guacomole, avocados, plátanos, and numerous other things that I would not have eaten a week ago. And guess what? I like it! The food here is AMAZING. Every meal is a mixture of Norte Americano food and Guatemalan food. It`s delicious and fun to see and taste new things. My companion, Hermana Darger, is probably tired of hearing me say, "If my family saw me eating this, they would laugh and laugh."
Hermana Darger is sweet - she`s from New York and just finished her first year at the Y. I`m one of the older girls in our zone, but not in the CCM or the mission. it`s been fun to talk with girls and see where they were a few months ago and what they were doing in their lives.
I`m slowly but surely learning the language. I can introduce myself and mi compañera, bear my testimony, pray, and talk about the First Vision pretty effectively. It`s been fun to talk with Hispaños and try to talk with them. Some of them speak English, but it`s a really good thing that we get to talk with them and practice our Spanish with them. There`s nothing that can replace that experience.
The trip here was fun. I met up with a sister in LAX and then there were about 40 of us by the time our flight left (I think there were 38 of us). I got some sleep, but not very good sleep, but that`s ok. We were able to take a short nap when we got to the CCM.
Our first day here felt like a week in itself and the past week has felt like a month. Our first night here, we experienced a flood on our floor from a burst water pipe in the ceiling. No one`s stuff got ruined, but it was around 11 when it happened, so we all lost some sleep. Dad, I looked at the pipe after it happened and they had replaced the broken pipe with a galvenized (sorry if that`s spelled wrong) pipe and I thought of you and Horizon trips. =]
Our district is teaching a REAL INVESTIGATOR. His name is Daniel (pronounced like Danielle) and he works in the kitchen in the CCM. He`s really sweet and he just committed to be baptized last night after our devotional (it was from Provo and Elder Scott was talking baout prayer - it was exactly what he needed). We`re really excited for him and our last lesson with him is tonight. We`re going to have the "real" missionaries (the one`s that are in the mission field) teach him. If we can, though, we want to go to his baptism.
Sundays here are wonderful - it`s basically 10 hours of church. You wake up, hacve breakfast, have 2 Relief Society meetings, District Sunday school (where you practice teaching in Spanish), Sacrament meeting (where people are called from the congregation to speak - we all prepare talks and then we`re randomly chosen), and then watching old Devotionals the rest of the day. It`s a really good experience here and I`m going to be sad when we leave. Oh, and we do exchanges with the Latinas (native speakers) and that`s good beacuse we get to practice our Spanish more. And our district sang in sacrament meeting - Nearer My God to Thee (in Español, of course).
Our District is the best! We sing himnos all the time and we get along really well. And our teacher is the strictest one in the CCM, but that`s why she`s the best because she pushes us and knows that she can push us. We are learning a lot from her and she is really nice and sweet.
We`re going to the Temple today and I`m so excited! The CCM President and his wife go with us and it`s going to be a wonderful experience. The temple is right next to the CCM - there`s only a Shell gas station between the CCM and the temple.
A good experience that I had here at the CCM was yesterday. Our teacher asked us to prepare a ten minute lesson in 5 minutes and to be ready to teach about the Restoration. I got about a sentence figured out before she said that it was time to teach. My companion and I worked through our lesson with one of the CCM teachers and we were able to talk about how Joseph Smith and the first vision. We used James 1:5 and Joseph Smith History 1:16-17 and taught her how to pray. After the lesson, the teacher was saying how our Spanish is better than we think it is and that we shouldn`t be nervous but to "have faith in the Lord and yourself" and that she felt the spirit during our lesson. I think that is the biggest lesson that I have learned here in the past week. The Spirit is the one that teaches the investigators, not you. We - as missionaries - may not be able to speak the language and you may not think that you can communicate the feelings of your heart, but the Spirit can take care of that. the Spirit speaks all languages and can communicate with all people. So we, as missionaries, cannot rely on ourselves alone. We have to rely on the Spirit. The Spirit makes up for any shortcomings that we have after we have worked and learned and studied as much aas we can. I know that. I felt that yesterday when we were teaching that teacher from the CCM. Before that moment, I thought that I needed to write out what I was going to say because of my inadequacies of knowing the language, but that`s not true. I know now that with God, all things are possible, including learning and speaking a language that is really hard.
I love all of you so much and miss you, but it`s all good! I know that I`m supposed to be here. I know that it will be hard - it has been hard - but it will all work out and be an amazing experience.
With much love, Hermana Conover

I'm Alive! (Aug 7 2013)

My mom will be posting my letters here for my family and  friends, once she figures out how to log on etc.
Please be patient.  She'll eventually get it ; )

Hello family!
I`m alive and doing well. Our plane landed safely this morning and it has been a lovely amazing day at the CCM.
I`ll be able to write you more on P-day (next Wednesday) but this is just to let you know that I am here in guatemala safely and trying to learn Spanish as fast as I can.
Love you all and send love to the rest of the family!
-Hermana Conover