Monday, March 31, 2014

Adios Mexico...Off to Oregon!

I can't believe I'm leaving tomorrow!  I am SO EXCITED.  We leave here at 8:30 in the morning, our flight leaves at 12:25, we connect through DFW and arrive in Portland at 8:20 at night so it'll definitely be a long day of travel. 

Not really too much has happened since I emailed last week.  I think I actually forgot to tell you about the devotional we had last week.  We had one of the Area Seventies, Jorge L. Saldívar, come and speak to us. One of the things he said that I really liked was to "Ver con los ojos del Salvador" or "See with the eyes of the Savior".  I thought that was so powerful, to see with the Savior's eyes. When thinking about it, I realized that applies to more than just seeing PEOPLE with the eyes of the Savior; it's also about seeing opportunities like He would. Christ was so good at teaching and always took every opportunity as a teaching moment and so I think looking at things with His eyes includes moments, opportunities, trials, everything. 

We had the girls from the other district over on Wednesday, after they emailed their families for the first time, just to talk and vent and bond and it went really well. The other Hermanas from our district came too and so it was just a nice little girl's chat. We laughed and talked and ate ice cream and it was great. 

We played kickball on Thursday!  It was really, really fun. We "challenged" the other district in our zone, they came and we all had a blast.  It was a really nice final district bonding activity. 

On Friday, we had an all day field training session. It was cool because we learned things that we never had the opportunity to learn in the classroom setting. We talked a lot about working with members, faith, finding, and miracles. My favorite little snippet from the day was a quote about miracles: "Miracles are the natural result of the correct application of true eternal principles". 

The Hermanas from the districts that were leaving this week got to watch the Women's Broadcast on Saturday while all the other Hermanas are going to watch it next week during the Priesthood session. Seriously Mom, you should move to Mexico because I swear NOTHING can ever get started on time.  (Hey, I resent that remark!  I'm only sometimes late.)   Dad, I'm sure it would drive you insane because it definitely drives me insane sometimes.  We went to the room at 5:45 because it was supposed to start at 6:00 but no one showed up to get the broadcast set up until 6:20. He just kind of showed up, didn't say anything, put the broadcast into Spanish, and then left even though we tried to tell him PLEASE keep it in English. The Spanish was fine; I could understand everything they were saying but I felt like I would've got more out of it if it had been in English. I'm hoping I'll just be able to watch it next weekend when I have an iPad!  

 Waiting for the broadcast...

 (Before you ask the question, I don't know if the Elders watched the broadcast too.  She just had this picture in the same email 
with the one above and that title.)

I really feel a sense of satisfaction with the work I've put into my calling as "Sister Training Leader". We've put a lot of time and effort and thought and prayer into it and it's definitely paid off.  I feel like we were led by the Lord and were able to really assimilate the girls well and make them feel comfortable and loved. 

 This is us with one of our new sisters, Hermana Brusch.
We're taking pictures with the others tonight.

We had a lot of goodbyes this week. Our teachers, members of our districts, members of other districts. It's a strange feeling that I've spent the last six weeks of my life here and most likely I will never step foot in Mexico City again after tomorrow. 

Hermano Gutierrez, my morning teacher. 
He's the one who fixed my watch.


Our district with Hermano "G"


  Our district with our night teachers,
 Hermano Murillo and Hermano Polo

 Hermano Polo would always walk through the background of our lessons 
pretending to pick his nose so that was kind of a joke in our district.

  Every Sunday, after the video, they do a "tribute" to the people who are
 leaving and then we all sing "God Be With You Till We Meet Again".  
Here's some pics from the powerpoint tribute to us...

I participated in a choir in front of the whole CCM!  See!  I am 
trying to do things I wouldn't normally do. 
We sang "All Creatures of Our God and King" 
and it was beautiful!  I have a video, too.

This is Elder Faris from my district.  Apparently, his dad grew up in Asbury Park and was really close family friends with Lynn Wirth!  Weird, right?  He's actually been to their house before in Pennsylvania 
(really close to where we now live...such a small world!) 
He's also from Oregon so he's given me a lot of info! 

I'm just really excited to get to Oregon. I know the last six weeks have been part of my mission (and a real essential part) but I just feel like my mission is ACTUALLY about to start. 

I feel really blessed to have had the experience that I had here.  My teachers, my districts, the Presidency, they were all so wonderful and I've learned so much.  I feel really comfortable in my Spanish but I'm sure my language confidence will get shaken when I actually get to Oregon and people aren't speaking slow, simple Spanish for me.  I feel more comfortable in Spanish now than I did after I'd taken AP Spanish. It's amazing how fast you're able to learn here.

My next email will be from Oregon!!!  Can't wait. 


Hermana Meise

Note from Mom:  She is SO happy and SO ready and we are as well.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Teaching moments and learning experiences

Hi everyone!

I really can't believe that this is my final P-day at the CCM. (Officially, we'll have another p-day type thing on Monday to prepare to leave.)  It's unbelievable how fast the time has gone. 

We had an amazing experience this week teaching at TRC. Like I explained before, TRC is when they have volunteers from outside the CCM come in and sit for lessons. We had the opportunity to teach a girl named Monsy who is 18 and studying to be an orthodontist. She isn't a member of the Church so, for the first time, this was like the real deal.  And it was incredible! We talked to her about a lot of different things, the power of the Book of Mormon and how much the Gospel of Jesus Christ blesses individuals and families.  I felt very strongly that I needed to tell her how much God knows her, how much He loves her, how He is so present in her life and that's why she was here, at that moment, learning about the Gospel. It was an amazing feeling to be able to look into her eyes and testify of these truths.  Her and I were both very tearful throughout the lesson.  I felt so much love for her it felt like my chest was on fire. She's coming back this Thursday so I'm hoping that we have the opportunity to teach her again this week.

So, I didn't tell you guys last week because I didn't want you to be mad but I broke my watch a couple of weeks ago. It got knocked off a desk and when it hit the ground, one of the arms broke off.  I was able to find all the pieces on the ground and tried to fix it.  Unfortunately, this little rod that kind of holds it all together had a little piece break off so it just wouldn't go back together. HOWEVER, there's a happy ending to this story because my morning teacher, Hermano Gutierrez, saw that it was broken and asked if he could take it with him to see if he could find a replacement for the rod. He would give me an update every day and say that he had gone to this market and couldn't find it and so he was going to another market tomorrow. After about a week, he came back in with my watch totally fixed! I tried to offer him pesos for the part and snickers for his effort but he absolutely refused any kind of payment. It's not hard to tell that our teachers here are very, very poor so I was incredibly humbled and grateful for this act of charity. 

On a scarier note, we had an intruder this week.  Apparently, in the middle of the night, Security found that a hole had been cut in part of the fence. The cops were called and everything but they never found the guy.  Actually, that's the scariest part - they never found him and they don't really lock the buildings at night so, in reality, he could still be in anywhere...but don't worry? I guess? 

So, I had a cool experience with fasting the other day.  I decided to fast Monday into Tuesday.   Tuesday morning, I just woke up with the WORST dehydration headache.  Like, seriously a splitting, couldn't-even-open-my-eyes headache. I thought to myself,  "Well that's okay, I'll just continue my fast from food but I'll just drink water so I can get rid of my headache."  And then I thought to myself, "how bad do I want this?  How badly do I want these blessings that I'm asking for?  Is it bad enough to have a headache for a few hours?"  So I decided that I would just keep going and deal with the pain. The words of 1 Nephi 3:7 started playing in my head (....I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them).  I realized that going without water was part of the fasting commandment so there would be some way for me to deal with the pain.  I prayed for the strength to carry through with this fast. Within a few minutes, my headache was totally gone! 

I got a haircut today! I figured that getting my haircut for free in Mexico was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I chopped a few inches off.  It's not as good as a haircut from Robyn but it'll do!


I'm grateful for my time at the CCM and for everything I've learned here. I've been blessed with amazing teachers, a great district, and a lot of really great experiences. I'm so excited for what Oregon holds in store! 



P.S. Here are some of my friends that left last week, Hermana Price and Hermana Hancey. They were in our Branch and we had the same bladder schedule so we constantly saw each other in the bathroom. 

Note from mom:  I cried as I read Hayley's email this week.  I am so grateful for the experiences she has had at the CCM and I, too, can't believe how fast this time has gone by.  The news about the intruder was a little nerve-wracking; however, I know she is being watched over and cared for, as are all those missionaries, and so I have faith and trust they will be fine.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Looking forward and a visit to the temple!

It really hasn't been too much of an eventful week here in Mexico.  At this point, my life is very routine.

Mostly, we've just been teaching a lot of lessons. I feel like my Spanish is really coming along. I've definitely come a long way in being able to adapt lessons to meet individual needs. I'm a little worried about getting to Oregon, though, and not being able to understand the words people are saying. My vocabulary is mostly centered on Church things so I'll definitely have a lot to learn in "worldly vocab" when I get there. 

We had a really great devotional this week from the Director of Operations. He's really young and he has three little boys who we always see running around and playing because they live here at the CCM. He talked about Lot's wife which really is such an applicable story for missionaries. He talked about how her problem was that she looked back LONGINGLY, that she wanted to be back in Sodom and Gomorrah. As missionaries, we need to be constantly looking forward. 

He also shared an insight on another story that really struck me. He was talking about the time when the people came to Jesus asking him if they should pay taxes. He explained a little historical background (which I can't recall specifically) and basically this was a really loaded issue between the Jews and the Romans. So they ask Jesus about taxes and he asks for a coin and says "Whose image is this?" The Brother explained how "IMAGE" was such a significant choice of words because for these Jews, who practically memorize the Bible, "image" would have reminded them of two things: the Ten Commandments (no graven images) and the Creation of man when it says we were created in His image. Jesus then says "...Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21). I had never made those two connections before and I thought that was fascinating. The devotional speaker then went on to talk about "rendering to God that which is His" in terms of really dedicating our whole selves to serving God. 

We had the opportunity to go to the temple this morning and it was really, really cool. I found out why it's closed for construction. Apparently, Mexico City was built on top of a drained lake and so that ground has sunk like five feet since the temple was built. Because of this, they have to do a lot of work with the foundation. So, the temple is closed for the next 18 months, but we still were able to go to the Visitor's Center. We were given a tour by two of the Hermanas there and it was a really special experience.
 Mexico City Temple


We had a couple more  funny mix-ups this week with words. During a lesson with Juan early this week, Hermana Standiford was trying to explain that one of the reasons we came to this earth was so that we could have a body of flesh and bones but instead of using the phrase "carne y huesos" she said "carne y huevos" which means flesh and EGGS. Later in the week, our teacher was telling us how dangerous Mexico City was and how he carries a knife with him walking back at night but throughout the whole explanation he kept saying "sniff" instead of "knife". We were laughing pretty hard about that one and made some funny jokes about "the weapon of the common cold".  (I guess you had to be there.)   I had my first mix-up this week, too! I was trying to explain that we cannot understand the mind of God and I said all the right words but my pronunciation was off in a way that made it sound like "we cannot understand the concubine of God". I'm just glad we're making these mistakes now instead of when we get out there.

I also had some sad goodbyes this week. One in particular with a friend I made named Hermana Grow. She was so so sweet. The good news is that she goes to BYU too so we'll be meeting up when we get back! 
 Hermana Dixon, Hermana Grow and Hermana Meise

I can't believe I have only two more weeks here!  I'm so excited and so ready! OH, also, don't send any more "Dear Elder" letters to Mexico after this Sunday. I'm not even sure the ones sent this week will get here before I leave but I hope so. I love you all!

Hermana Meise
 Pesos! (50 Pesos is the equivalent of about US$3.76)
 I bought this homemade scripture case

This is what happens when you take a break
 during additional study time...

CCM Selfie

Note from mom:  During our online "chat", Hayley said she has made a lot of good friends at the CCM, it's so hot there she had to buy sunscreen because she kept getting sunburned (I know, I know...not feeling THAT sorry for her!) and she is ready to go to Oregon! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Aah! The language...

I know I said this last week too but it has been such a quick week! I feel like I just sat down to email yesterday. I guess that's a good thing, right?

This week has been good. We taught a lot more lessons. This week, for the first time, we actually taught people who weren't our teachers. They just volunteered to be taught at the CCM. It was a good experience and very challenging. One used a lot of vocab that we didn't really know but we just asked her to use other words if we couldn't understand. We ended up having a really nice conversation about prayer, why we pray, and how we can know when God answers our prayers. We said a prayer together and it was a really good experience. 

My companion and I had a moment walking back home this week where we just started talking about how ridiculous we must have seemed teaching our first lesson almost three weeks ago. We were laughing so hard. The other sisters in our district told us that in their first lesson, during the prayer they meant to say "Te damos gracias por Juan" which means "We thank thee for Juan" but instead they said "Te pedimos por Juan" which means "We ask thee for Juan". It's a miracle he didn't just burst out laughing at us in those first couple of lessons. Looking back, I also think that, while trying to tell one of my teachers that my family is from the Cayman Islands, I might have told him that my family is from the Island of Crocodiles. 

Another funny thing that I forgot to tell you earlier was that on the first day, when I met my morning teacher, we were telling him where we were from and I said Philadelphia. He said he didn't know where that was and asked what state it was so I said Pennsylvania. He got this surprised look on his face and started saying a word I didn't understand. I just said yes because I had no idea what he was trying to say. He got an even more surprised look on his face and started flapping his wings like he was flying and kept repeating the same word. FINALLY I figured out that he was saying VAMPIRE, he was trying to ask me if there were vampires where I lived and I accidentally told him yes. I quickly clarified and tried to explain that that's TRANSylvania. 

Another funny thing happened with my new night teacher when I was trying to explain where I was from. I said Philadelphia and he started thinking really hard and said "I don't know that........Will Smith?" And I said "Yes!!!! Will Smith!" It was pretty funny. 

I spoke in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday! So, how it works is every Sunday you have to prepare a talk on the topic assigned and then DURING Sacrament Meeting they announce who the speakers are going to be. I spoke on the Holy Spirit. It went well! I'm still having trouble totally expressing all my thoughts in Spanish but it's getting better. Much, much better. 

We had a devotional last night totally in Spanish. I understood most of it but, because I was focusing so hard on understanding, I don't think I got too much out of it spiritually. One thing I did get was that he said "el precio para tener exito es trabajar" which means "the price to have success is work". 

I forgot to tell you last week that my companion and I were called as the Sister Training Leaders in our branch! Basically our job is to attend all the leadership meetings and give our input and also to help the new girls that come in understand and feel comfortable. We're really excited. We haven't gotten any new girls but we're hoping to get some today because we have some really good plans we can't wait to implement! 

So there's actually a girl in my branch who is BEST FRIENDS with my mission president's daughter! We've talked to her a lot about what they're like and she has nothing but good things to say. She said sometimes she would go over to their house just to hang out with her parents. I'm really excited. 

I'm so grateful for those who sent me a dear elder letter this week. I LOVED reading them. I'll be sending back letters. (On a side note, QUINN I need your home address, I'm too worried that if I send it to school it won't get there in time.)  I'm also so grateful for all the prayers that are said on my behalf. I feel so strengthened and fortified by them. 

I love you all so much! 

Hermana Meise
My ministerial certificate:
 My bed.
  I'm not messy; those clothes on the top bunk are just drying.

 Trail mix...yay! 

 Perfect example...we don't really speak Spanish 
and they don't really speak English


 Note from mom:  In our "chat" back and forth, Hayley said she had the SWEETEST mangoes this week, sweeter than any she has ever tasted in her entire life.  She does love mangoes!  She also mentioned to me last week how much she was craving the trail mix we always eat at home.  This one (above) is almost the exact same one except we use regular chocolate chips.  She says she's "feeling good"... "learning and growing a lot" and "really feeling the spirit more than ever before in my life".  I can also tell that she is feeling a little homesick so please keep her in your prayers!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Getting rid of pride... and the ants!

Hi everyone!

I really can't believe how fast this past week has gone! Feels like just yesterday I was writing last week's email.

We taught a few more lessons this week. Some I felt went really well, others not so much. Overall, though, I think I'm improving. One of the things I'm really working on is trying to get rid of the "pride" aspect of speaking this language. Personally, saying something in Spanish when I'm not sure that it's right or that it's grammatically correct is really hard for me because I don't want to seem stupid. BUT I'm trying to think of learning Spanish right now as a tool rather than being about ME learning Spanish. I'm not learning Spanish for my own knowledge or for the ways I'll be able to use it professionally, I'm learning Spanish because there are specific people Heavenly Father wants me to help and the best way to help THOSE SPECIFIC people is by being able to speak to them in Spanish. This isn't about me; nothing about this time in my life is about me. So now I've been just trying to say whatever I feel like I need to say without worrying about whether it's "right". I usually can communicate pretty effectively but sometimes it's really frustrating.

We watched a video this week from Elder Holland that I really liked. He was talking about why missionary work is so hard. He said "Missionary work isn't easy because Salvation never was a cheap experience." I really loved that. He went on to talk about Christ and how much He suffered and how we shouldn't expect it to be easy for us when it was never easy for Him. He said that when we have thoughts of "Why can't this be easier?" we should remember that Christ also asked if there was no other way:  "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me...." (Luke 22:42).  I think now, more than at any other time in my life, I am filled with gratitude for the Savior's sacrifice for us. We watched another video from Elder Holland later in the week where he talked about Peter and that made me really happy.

So, the day after I emailed last week, we went and talked to Hermana Jones, one of the older ladies here, about our ant problem and THAT DAY we had a man out spraying our room and can of Raid waiting for us on our front step. She said she just talked to "the guy who gets things done" (I think she meant the President) and once he heard about our situation he sent people right away. SO GRATEFUL.

The food here is actually really yummy. The only questionable meal is breakfast. Sometimes they serve hoagies or breaded chicken fingers.  It's okay, though, because there's always a toast station that has Nutella!

Let me preface this next part by saying that I AM SAFE. Mexico City, however, is not. We are CONSTANTLY hearing gunshots, screaming, dogs barking, and small explosions. We asked our teacher about it and he said that's a really common thing in Mexico City, people just setting off small explosives in random places all the time.

Security entrance into the CCM

Now to Mom's questions! 
  • What are you doing for exercise? We do every other day cardio and weight room! They have Elypticals which is nice but not treadmills. In the weight room I just do squats and the Pilates 5 series and that kind of stuff! Today we did district yoga to celebrate P-day!
  • Where are the other two girls in your district from and where are they going? Hermana Baros (the darker haired one) is from Draper, UT and going to Scottsdale, AZ. Hermana Standiford (the red haired one) is from Bakersfield, CA and going to New Mexico.
  • Are you writing in your journal every night? Yes!! I think I've missed one night but I made up for it the next night. 
  • Have you received any "dear elder" letters yet?  Or the one I sent through USPS? I received one from you and some from others but that's it.
  • Are you allowed to read any of that mail on any day or just on P-day?  I can read that mail any day. I got those last Saturday so it was the perfect in between. 

Love you tons!! 

Hermana Meise 

P.S. Sorry for the lack of pics....we're only allowed to take pictures on P-day so it makes it really tricky. I'll be better next week.

Note from mom:  So that means the pouch mail "dear elder" letters (see side bar for link) got there in six days!