"Dear Sister Conover:
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Guatemala Guatemala City Central Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months.
You should report to the Guatemala Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, August 7, 2013. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish language."
These posts are a little disjointed because Michelle and her companion have only an hour and fifteen minutes a week to do all of their email reading and writing. As you can tell from the jist of the letters, Michelle is very concerned that the computer that her companion, Sister Peterson, is using isn't working very well(they are at an email cafe). Michelle wants to make sure that her companion gets to write home this week, so she signs off with mom and dad so that her comp can use the computer that she has been using.
I cried (as you hear) when I heard your voice. I was just so happy to
hear you talk and it meant a lot that we were able to.
We'll be sleeping New Year's Eve. Normal schedule here in Mission Central.
The letters are a way that
I relax on P-Day. I have a really hard time not doing anything on
P-Days, so it's a way I relax. Don't worry about it. I love doing it.
working with our leaders. our WML [Ward Mission Leader] is the father of my last bishop
(small world, huh). We're working hard and it's a little hard to find
lessons in Solola (because our areas so small) but we're finding
people. We have a few people right now that could probably be baptized.
We're working on working with the members to get more references and to
go out with them to work. And that's sad the elder's checked out. We
call that "being baggy" (like trunky), and that's sad because we only
have to much time to give.
That's cool about Aunt Betty and Uncle Ted. You go, dad! Be a member missionary! You're doing a really good job at it.
for the prayers and the help. I love the Book of Mormon and I know it's
true. I love the end chapters of 1 Nephi (we're reading the BoM as a
mission now). I love 1 Nephi 13-15. I would read those.
Anyway, my comp's computer isn't working and I want her to write. So not much today, sorry.I love you!
Con MUCHO amor,
Hermana Pumpkin Conover
Well, just kidding, her email's working now.
I get the letters every transfer.
I love hearing about your time in the temple. I love the temple. I want
to go there every week (at least) when I get back to the States. There
is such a Spirit there that blesses our lives and can help us so much. I
love going and learning something new every time. And feeling the pure
Spirit that is in the Celestial room is amazing. I was so glad we went
for Christmas as a mission. It was amazing.
Anyway, I love you! Have a wonderful new year!
Con MUCHO amor,
Hermana Pumpkin Conover
I loved talking
to you on Christmas. I wished that it could have been like the times
when I would walk back from school and it wsa just you and me talking
and then I could have had the time with everyone else, but alas, it
wasn't so. It was hard to hang up (as you could probably tell), but I
loved hearing your voice. And talking with you.
I love you, mom. Thank you for the prayers and everything. I love you.
Love, Hermana Conover
So my comps email started to work, so here's a little bit more.
love you, mom. I'm so grateful for everything that you have done for me
in my life before my mission and during my mission. You're so strong.
You are a woman of faith and I knew that before my mission, but I've
realized that more now.
Two of my companions have
pointed out (when I get frustrated) that I have so much faith. And I
wouldn't have that faith without you, mom. You taught me to read my
scriptures and to pray and even though I wasn't the best at it before my
mission, I'm following your example now and praying everyday (multiple
times a day) and reading my scriptures and marking them up like you do.
We're reading the Book of Mormon as a mission and I'm reading it in
Spanish. It's hard sometimes (like the Isaiah chapters), but I think of
your persevering attitude and press forward.
I'm trying my hardest to
keep up your legacy (well, legacy to me) of presevering through hard
times and diligently studying the scriptures. And your spirit of
service, too. Your "can do" attitude that you got from your dad. I'm
going to try to do all I can to not tarnish the name of Conover in the
mission and the name of Jones, as well. In Guatemala, people have two
last names - their fathers and their mothers. So here's to Conover Jones
and keeping the tradition up.
Anyway, I'm not writing a lot today becuase we'll be talking tomorrow!!!
I'm sending pictures in other emails so that you and the family can get a view of guatemala and the mission.
This week has been good - we're working on finding people to teach IN Sololá and not in the Aldeas.
temple trip was amazing. we got to see the new video. In English. we
had new translators and it was awesome. And it makes more sense of why
there's so much more pauses in the video when you watch it side by side
with Spanish and English. It made the translations flow better. Anyway,
it was amazing. This time, I realized the importance of obedience. It
definitely is a law on which the foundation of the world is based off
We left at 1 in the morning (we got permission to not sleep
because we would have had to get up at 11.30 and only one hour wouldn't
have done a lot of good) and didn't really sleep in the bus. We went to
the Temple and after had a devotional with President and his family and
we got our packages. Thanks to you and mom and Laura, I had candy to
share on the way back home. We all opened our presents on the bus and
enjoyed them all together. I had some chocolate from Peru. Oh man, it
We have food rules in the mission. We can't eat pork or anything like it
(including sliced ham for sandwiches), no fish, no strawberries, no
grapes, lettuce, or ice cream from the street or any food from the
street. That's about it, I think. Otherwise, we have to wash it really
well (like let it sit in bleach water for a few minutes and let it air
dry) or make sure it has a peel (like bananas, papayas, etc). We eat
pretty well. Oatmeal or cereal in the morning (with yogurt if its cereal
and an apple), a really good lunch from our cocinera (cook), and
something for dinner after planning (usually cereal or oatmeal). We
don't go hungry we try to eat well. I feel fine - I've only gotten sick
from food once here in Sololá and that's because it was really rich.
Most of the time I'm fine.
To leave town we take a bus and it takes us to where we need to
go. that or a flete (the truck where a bunch of people jump into the
back). It's all pretty cheap. And in town, sometimes we take taxis or a
tuk-tuk - it's a taxi but it's a motorcycle. I think we're the only area
that gets to use tuk-tuks and fletes.
We had a Christmas miracle! We didn't have hot water for a really
long time (four weeks - the whole time I've been here plus some) [ Michelle only gets water between 7 am and 1 pm, anyway] and the
electricity was all funny and didn't work right, at all. So yesterday,
someone came and fixed it. And we had hot showers today. It was
Anyway, as a mission, we're reading the Book of Mormon together.
We started on Saturday and we finished 1 Nephi 8 today. It's going well.
Hermana Peterson and I decided that we're going to read it in Spanish
and highlight every time the word Señor, Dios, Cristo, or Jesucristo
appears. I love the Book of Mormon and I am so grateful that we get to
read it as a mission. It's kind of cool to think that all the
missionaries in our mission are reading the same things everyday and
getting different revelation from it. I love this book and I know that
it is scripture and the words of God.
I love you, dad! I'm so excited we get to talk tomorrow!
Solola is really close to the Quetzaltenalgo mission. We´re right next to it, actually.
the market is crazy Tuesdays and Fridays. The buses are PACKED (but we
can´t contact them because we can´t walk in them) and there are TONS of
I love it here - it´s
gorgeous. It´s really hilly - think of a smaller area than San Francisco
but just as hilly and that would be about right.
live in the city of Solola in a house. We don´t have water before 7 and
only until about 1 in the afternoon. And the water is freezing. It´s
great. I love it.
And the trajes (or cortes)
- I love them. The clothes are so beautiful. Some of the trajes (the
intricate clothes) can cost about 4,000 Quetzales.
usually leave Solola, actually. The people in the city Solola aren´t
that receptive to our message but in the Aldeas (like suburbs of Solola,
but appear like Brentwood with tons of crops and not a lot of houses)
more people are receptive. Granted, some of them don´t know Spanish, but
they´re more receptive. And we have to change how to teach here. We
teach lesson 1 more simply and explain everything more in detail to help
the people get the basics more.
The drive was from
the place we had changes to Solola. It was about 5 hours (we stopped for
30 minutes to eat at McDonalds, but it was still a really long drive).
We had a mini bus - one of the members helped us out and drove us.
We´re in a branch - there are about 150 people that attend each week, but there aren´t enough men in the ward to be a ward.
The Chapel is about in the center of Solola. It´s small-ish for a chapel, but it´s a chapel.
The phone number is our
house number. I think it´s a cell phone (land lines are really expensive
here). but yeah, we´ll be home in the morning on Christmas - it´s our
P-Day for the week, so we´ll be home and shop for stuff afterwards.
The people here know how
to work and work hard. Men here carry hundreds of pounds of stuff on
their shoulders and the women and children work hard in the home and
for Christmas, we´re going to the Temple in Guatemala City. We get to
leave at 1 in the morning from our house, pick up a bunch of people in
our zone and area and then drive to Guatemala. We´ll do a session, go to
eat, and then have a fireside with President Brough. I´m excited.
Actually, we´re all excited for this. And then we´ll drive home. We´ll
get back around 7 or 8 at night, so we´ll probably not have a lot of
lessons that day. People go to their houses around 7 and to bed around
8. So we´ll get back and probably just contact the few people that are
on the street and go back to our house at 9.
Oh - it´s FREEZING here. I
never thought I would say that about Guatemala, but it´s COLD. In the
morning and the night. And the wind. Oh man - it´s cold here, but it´s
all good. I love Solola. I´m excited to work here for a while.
Anyway, this week I
finished the Isaiah chapters of 2 Nephi. I didn´t understand that much
more than usual, but I loved it. I kind of laughed, though, when Nephi
said "I delight in plainness". Plain and clear? Working on that still,
but there were definitely some things that stuck out to me as I read and
I realized that even though it´s hard to understand, it´s possible to
understand. We just have to read with the Spirit of the Lord and ask for
help and to ponder the things that we read.
Anyway, I love you! I´m
excited to talk to you and mom next week (and I guess whoever else is in
the house at the time). I love you MUCHO! And thanks for all the
prayers and support. It means a lot.
Con MUCHO amor,
Hermana Pumpkin Conover
I think we´re
getting our packages on Thursday when we go to the Temple. And thank you
so much for the gorgeous Christmas cards and the letters with them. I
love the Shepherd´s hill one and the "O Come Let Us Adore Him". They´re
gorgeous. Thank you.
It´s a cell phone - land
lines are really expensive here and it´s a cell phone. I hope that it
doesn´t get too expensive. We have 40 minutes to talk, so...And you´re
calling me at 11:30, right? I´m not allowed to call you, you´re calling
me. Just a reminder.
The mosquito bites on my
legs are from Ribera. They´re not scars, but they´re close. I had a
really bad habit of scratching them. And I do have bug spray and I use
it occasionally. I know I don´t want to get sick and you don´t want me
sick, either, but sometimes we´re running out the door in the morning.
And they´re arent´really mosquitos here - just flies that bite you. :)
It took us 5 hours to get to Solola from changes. It was fun and pretty.
Peterson is fantastic. She´s a hard worker and helps me with my
Spanish. She didn´t really understand Spanish her first few months, so
she understands. She says my Spanish is really good and that "I´ll be
fluent and everything" by the end of my mission. That was nice to hear.
But my grammar isn´t that great, so she´s helping me with that. And
we´re hoping and praying that we can work more in our area and help more
people to listen and to hear the Gospel. We´re working hard and trying
to improve our relationship with the members to work with them more.
go to church in a chapel above (geographically) a school - La Justo
Refino. It´s a chapel for our branch in Solola 2. The Zone Leaders are
in Solola 1. Our branch has about 150 members that attend each Sunday,
but there aren´t enough men in the branch to be a ward.
have a cook and someone to do our laundry, but we do our garments
ourselves. And we have a shower, but we only have water from 7 in the
morning to about 1 in the afternoon. And it´s freezing water. But I love
it - it´s a new, fun part of the adventure called "The Mission". :)
our area is comparable to San Francisco, pretty much. Hermana Peterson
goes a little bit slower for me when we go up the hills. It´s fun. And I
am very grateful that I played tuba for 7 years. If not, I probably
wouldn´t be able to breathe during the day. The areas around, though,
are quite flat. It kind of looks like Brentwood before all the stores
and stuff were out there. It´s flat with a lot of corn and a few houses
and tiendas (stores - like small mini-marts in gas stations).
"truck-taxis" are called "fletes" and are really fun. You feel like a
dog who stuck his head out of the window of a car. It´s really fun. And I
haven´t seen anyone been hit by a car. It probably happens, but I
haven´t seen it. And in our area (the top part of Solola), we can see
the lake for most of the time.
Yesterday, for P-Day, we
went to a members house and cooked fried chicken and funeral potatoes on
a stove. It was REALLY good. And it´s also good to know that we can
make funeral potatoes on a stove. We´re going to try to make chicken
cordon bleu for Christmas, but we´ll see how well that goes.
That´s nice about catching up with the Maltesters and with the Crespos. It´s good to hear about them.
contacted a gringo in a bus the other dayy - it was so hard to contact
in English. He´s looking for a job here in Guatemala and he´s living in
Honduras. He wants to to humanitarian stuff and he doesn´t know what
he´s doing with his life. We tried to get his address, but he said, "I
don´t do the whole Jesus thing". It was so hard - we knew that this
message could help him so much if only he´d listen. But, we planted a
seed and that´s what matters.
This week I´ve been
studying the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi. I just finished and I kind of
laughed when Nephi said, "I delight in plainnes". I guess I´m still
working on the plain and clear part of the Isaiah chapters. Some things
stuck out to me this time (like how Isaiah´s writings are poetry -
they´re gorgeous) and a lot about Christ and how everything points to
Christ and His purpose as a Redeemer for all of us. We´re teaching a lot
about the Savior at this time of year and I love it. I love that when
we teach about Christ´s birth, we´re able to talk about the Atonement
and His purpose in the earth and all of it. It all works and ties in
together. I love this Gospel and I´m so grateful that I get to teach
people about it for the next part of my life.
I love you, mom! I hope
everything is going well! Don´t do all of the Christmas decorations
yourself - ask Jen or Jenna for help! I love you!
Chris Diep - how´s he doing? I hope he´s doing well.
Thank you for that. 10 and 11 [Preach My Gospel]- my purpose as a missionary and my
success as a missionary, right? I have read that many times to learn how
to trust the Lord more and that it´s not baptisms that counts. It´s how
hard you work and how obedient you are. I´m doing both. President
Brough said that I work hard and diligently, so I´m pretty sure I´m
doing ok about that. It´s just sometimes, when you´re tired or really
stressed, Satan sneaks in and starts to make you frustrated. The past
week I´ve done a lot better. Every time a negative thought comes in my
head, I smile and think of your comment about sharing the Gospel with
the people here and how I smile while doing it. I have realized recently
(again) that people do have their agency. And dragging them to the font
isn´t giong to help them get a real conversion or attain salvation.
It´s teaching them until they understand and loving them and helping
them understand that baptism and other covenants are necessary. And I
understand what happened with the Elders - we´re working on that, too.
President Brough calls that the "sneak attack" method of baptismal
I firmly believe in
missionary touches. One of the converts in our ward said that she had
gone to church for 3 years before she got baptized (I don´t think it was
continuous, but still). And how many missionaries is that? A lot. And
she wasn´t baptized for a really long time. Or like Martha in our ward -
she wasn´t baptized for 2 years and how many missionaries? It´s just
frustrating sometimes when someone got an answer and they don´t realize
it or accept it. But it´s all building up to the day when they accept
the Gospel - whether it´s in this life or the next.
Oh - I´m being tansferred tomorrow. I don´t know where. We´re
going to be at the transfer meeting tomorrow. Hermana Cruz and Hermana
Weatherford are staying in Ribera del Rio. I´m almost done packing - I
got most of it done yesterday and only have to pack the stuff that I use
everyday. It´ll be good to have more experiences, meet more people, and
have a new companion. It´ll be good. I´m excited to continue the work
in other areas.
That´s awesome for mom´s birthday! [A trip to the San Francisco Symphony to hear Burt Bacharach] And I think she´ll like the
toothbrush. You know how much she likes to clean the grout between the
tile all the time. :) [family joke]
I´ll probably get the letters tomorrow.
I´ve gotten some and mom´s birthday package, but I´ll probably get the
rest tomorrow. We´ll see.
This week, we had a meeting with President Brough (about retention
of the converts) and he shared a scripture - 2 Nephi 10:23-24.
Basically, it says that happiness is a commandment. And I´m trying hard
with that one. It´s easy most of the time, but around 8:30, after our
appointments fall through and there aren´t a lot of people in the
street, it´s difficult. But, like I told one of the sisters in our
mission, when you don´t want to smile, that´s the time to smile. Being
happy is so important with this message, because it is a message of
happiness and people see that. They see our smiles - it´s one of the
first impressions they get of us. I notice that when I smile while
talking with people, they listen. They might not accept, but they
Anyway, I love you, dad! Give mom a hug for her birthday from me!
Con MUCHO amor,
Hermana Pumpkin Conover
are you? How´s your hip? How are you feeling? I hope you´re doing well.
Oh - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! HERE¨S LOVE AND KISSES AND HUGS FROM
GUATEMALA!!! I love you, momma!
I´m being transferred this week - when I know where, I´ll tell
you. And I should be getting to email you this week about the Christmas
call information. We´ll see how that goes.
weird to think that it´s so cold at home - it´s 70 and humid here and
doesn´t feel like December at all. And it´s weird to think that it´s
snowing in Utah. We talked about it yesterday during our P-Day, and it
The work is moving forward in Ribera. No baptisms this transfer,
but a lot in the upcoming weeks. It´s all good. We touched a lot of
lives these past six weeks.
I´ve had a cold this past week, but it hasn´t been that bad. I´ve still been able to work, so that´s what matters.
Ah, crying. You don´t have private moments in the mission. If one
companion is down, the companionship is down. But yes, the tears were
mostly in the house and sometimes in the meetings we had with the new
missionaries. But they were quiet tears, if that counts for anything.
It´s a work in process. Sometimes, you just get frustrated that you
aren´t as good as you want to be and then humility comes in and you
realize that it´s in the Lord´s time, way, and with His love, as well.
We´re all working really hard. Days feel like weeks and weeks like
seconds. I don´t know how that works, but it does.
My patience has grown these past 3 months. I´m still working on
patience with myself (because you and I both know that I´ve always been
hard on myself), but with other people it´s decent. I can control it
with other people, which is good. I need to study about grace and faith
more - I know that when we try our hardest, we´ve done all we can do.
But in the mission, I´m not sure what my hardest is. I try hard and I
push myself, but I don´t know what my hardest is. So I keep pushing
forward and doing what I can and understanding as much as I can and
listen all the time to the people and the Spirit. I love this work. This
is definitely a refiners fire for all the people that take part of the
full-time missionary service. The blessings will come. The people will
be baptized. we may not see the blessings now, but it will be there. I
know it will. Heavenly Father always answers our prayers and our needs
when we express them.
This week, President
Brough shared two scriptures - 2 Nephi 10:23-24. Basically, it says how
being happy is a commandment and how we need to never be disanimanted
about things. To never give up hope. To continually push forward in the
steadfast faith in Christ. I know that as we choose to be happy (because
it is a choice), we´ll feel better and have more hope and faith. And
there´s a really good article in the Ensign - I think its September,
called "the Healing balm of hope". It´s really good. I would recommend
The Spanish is coming along. Sometimes, it´s hard, but most of the time I can teach and understand most of what people say.
for sharing about the ward party and the Nutcracker. And thanks for
saving me an ornament. And I should get your package tomorrow as well as
the letters. you should be getting two envelopes in the next week or
two. They have about 8 letters or so in them.
I love you, mom! Thank you for yours prayers. I´ll have more stories next week, promise!
cannot believe it´s December. It feels like yesterday was June or May. I
cannot believe it. But it´s been a great four months in the mission.
You´ll have to send a picture of the nativity and our house with all the lights. That´d be fun to see. : )
I like the idea about the WML [Ward Mission Leader]calling every night to see how the
day was. That would definitely bring more unity within you and the
Elders. I like that. And it keeps you up to date on the goings on of the
work in Pittsburg. That´s a good idea. We might have to try that. We´ll
I hope the weather is good for the parade, too. Say "hi" to the guys for me.
really like teaching about the Restoration. We teach that one the most,
but I like it. And I really like teaching about the Apostasy for some
reason. I think it´s because it shows that good people were on the earth
during that time and tried to reform the churches to get back to the
way it was. Yes, people changed doctrines to get gain (1 Nephi 13 and 4
Nephi 1:26), but good people also looked for the truth, but it wasn´t
time. But because the Lord loves us and that we´re children of God, He
restored the Gospel for us. It´s central to this message and it´s true. I
loved what one of the counselors of the Bishopbric said the other day.
We teach teh restoration first and the first vision because it shows
that God has a body of flesh and bones and that He loves us and that the
true church is on the earth today. We teach it a lot (because a lot of
first visits) and
every time, my faith and testimony get a little bit more powerful in
We have an investigator right now and he has problems with the
Word of Wisdom. We taught him the word of wisdom and he committed to
live it, right on the spot. No coffee, smoking, or tea. He dropped all
three (or, committed that he would). And he´s really close to a set
bautismal date for the 22 of December. He´s attended church one time and
he reads what we give him and prays. He´s awesome and we´re excited for
Oh - and read moms letter this week for an experience with an Atheist. That was fun. The
language is coming along. I can comfortably teach lessons and
understand almost all of what people say. Sometimes, it´s hard to
understand (stories are hard), but I just take a deep breath and keep
going. It´s good. I´m not fluent in any respect, but I can teach and
testify, and that´s what´s important. I´m going to keep improving my
Spanish and work with it, but it comes little by little. So here´s to persevering! :)
I love you, dad. I am very grateful for the prayers - they help me
when we´re looking for appointments and people to teach. I feel your
love, even though we´re thousands of miles apart. I love you, dad!
Con mucho amor,
Hermana "Pumpkin" Conover
Hi mom! I
love hearing about the crafts! And the silhouette idea sounds amazing.
I´m tired for you. And yes, I´ll have to watch Airplanes and Monsters
University in Spanish when I get back (that´ll probably be the only
language I´ll really understand at that point). And the cookie exchange
sounds delightful - eat some cookies for me. And some soup.
Our Turkey Day was really good, actually. We planed in a half an
hour and RAN to make dinner. We made potatoes, warmed up turkey slices,
made gravy (which actually wasn´t that bad - I thought I burned the
flour at one point, but it was good), black refried beans (because we´re
in Guatemala), and bread, and apple cider. In 20 minutes. I don´t know
how, but it was 20 minutes. And it was pretty good. So, my first
Thanksgiving in Guatemala was pretty good.
This week, we had four days where it was FREEZING. Not by Utah standards
(not by a long shot), but for Guatemala,. it was cold. It was windy too
(like our house windy) and it was probably around 50 Fahrenheit for
most of the day. It was cold. And we didn´t really have sweaters for it,
but that´s okay. We had lessons during the coldest parts of the day, so
it was okay.
Spanish is coming along. I´m at a point where I can teach comfortably
(most of the time) and I understand a lot of everything else. Sometimes,
it´s hard to understand people (like this one lady we teach - she talks
fast and she´s old and she likes to tell stories, so it´s a little hard
sometimes to understand). I´m still working on my grammar and
vocabulary, but that´s okay. Always learning, right?
And here´s a story for the fan club. We taught an Atheist this week and
he was very adamant that God doesn´t exist and that it´s not important
to him, at all. And Hermana Weatherford had said that God is her Father
in Heaven and he said that those were just words that we repeat. But a
little later, I bore my testimony that God is MY Heavenly Father and
that He loves me. And that those aren´t just words that I repeat, but I
KNOW that He loves me and that I am a child of God. After the prayer, he
said that I have a lot of conviction for this message. But that wasn´t
the most influential part of the lesson. when I bore my testimony, it
was as if floodgates opened in my heart and the Spirit testified so
strongly to me that this message is true. And that God is my Heavenly
And, for the lady at the bank, say, "Que le va a bien" for me. (it means
something like, "let everything go well for you"...more or less).
this week has been good. We´ve been working hard and praying hard and I
love it when we´re busy. It feels good to teach people about Christ and
how to come unto Him through the principles of the Gospel. I love it.
This Gospel is true and I know it is. I have seen the Lord´s hand in
this work. And some miracles, too. I know that we are helping in a
divine work for the Savior and the children of our Father in Heaven.
I love you, mom! Have a wonderful week and don´t work too hard! If you
need hep with the tree, ask Jen or Seth to help. And have the kidlets
put the kid friendly ornaments up. Maybe for an FHE or something. I love