Monday, December 29, 2014

A Very Special Christmas

Hi everyone!

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! Our Christmas was really cool. Generally, Hispanics celebrate Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day. We were lucky enough to have a family invite us over to celebrate with them. The traditional Christmas Eve dish is tamales which is basically like this meat inside of this corn meal stuff wrapped in a corn husk. So we had a ton of those, some with chile verde, some with chile rojo, and some sweet ones. The family also gave us each a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates (I never had those before my mission; they're amazing) and we sang some Christmas songs. Most of all, it was just really nice to be with a family and feel of the love and Spirit that is in their home.

On Christmas day, we had dinner with the Bishop and his family. They had ALL the missionaries over, all 11 of us! For Christmas day, Mexicans traditionally have pozole which is like this soup with pork and chile and hominy. It's super yummy too. It was really cool to be able to have traditional Mexican meals for these holidays. We also played some traditional Mexican games at the Bishop's house. Overall, it was a blast!

On Christmas, I also had the chance to talk to my family! That was so fun. Because there's so many missionaries in the ward we were having a hard time finding members with internet who would be available to have us over to Skype our families. My mom told me that her aunt's stepson lived super close to us in Keizer and that we could go Skype or Facetime over there. We decided to do that and set up everything to go over there on Christmas day.

Auntie Hayley and Hudson getting reacquainted

When we got to the house, in the entry way there was this woman waiting for us. She looked familiar but I couldn't exactly figure out why. I gave her a hug and after a few minutes of looking at her and talking to her, I realized that she looked so familiar because she looked just like my mom and my grandma. That's when I finally pieced together that this was my great Aunt Gini whom I hadn't seen since I was a little girl!  It was SO VERY special to be able to be with her on Christmas. I got to ask her all kinds of questions about my grandma and what she was like and what my mom was like when she was little. We both got emotional as we talked about my grandma and what kind of person she was. Both of my grandmothers and my grandfather on my dad's side passed away either before I was born or when I was very little so I've never really known what it was like to have grandparents, to have that kind of relationship with someone, and I've always been sad about that. Spending just that brief time with Aunt Gini was so very special for me, to feel that kind of relationship and love. I love her so much!!! She is wonderful. It really was a testament to me of the strength of the bonds of family, how those connections are real and eternal.

One other quick story before I go... we were teaching Javier and Adriana this week along with Adriana's brother, Augustine. We taught about the purpose of life on earth and how it truly is a time to prepare to meet God. We talked about keeping the commandments like praying, reading scriptures, going to church. We invited them to come to church with us. Javier and Adriana agreed, Augustine said he would like to but that he has work. We bore testimony to him that Heavenly Father would provide a way for him to be able to come at some point in the future through a change of schedule or something because He wants him to keep that commandment. After we said that, he said "You know what, I'm not going to work." We were super surprised and were like "Uhhh....what?" He said "Yeah, I'm just not going to go to work on Sunday and I'm going to come to church with you." Hahah totally not the response we were expecting. But you know what? He totally did it, just bailed out on work and came to church! That, my friends, is faith. 

I love you all!  Have a wonderful New Year's!!



More Christmas pictures...

Note from Mom:  I am so grateful Aunt Gini's stepson lives in Hayley's area and that they graciously provided the sister missionaries the opportunity to Skype and Facetime from their home.  They also fed them Christmas breakfast which was also so very kind of them.  What an extra treat that Hayley was able to see and speak with Aunt Gini!  Hayley had only met Gini one other time in her life when she was just two years old.  She was this little:

I'm glad she was able to have this additional special Christmas experience.  I truly believe there are no coincidences.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas, almost!

Hi everyone!

Merry Christmas!!! So hard to believe tomorrow is Christmas Eve. This year has gone by so very fast. 

Yesterday, we had our Christmas Conference. Our zone got together with three other zones and we spent pretty much the whole day with President and Sister Samuelian. We started off by having a small devotional where one of the APs and Sister and President Samuelian spoke. After that, we had dinner with everyone, followed by a skit from each of the zones. Hermana Cardon and I are the ones who wrote the skit for our zone and it was pretty funny. We took a video but it's too big to send over email so I'll have to show you it when I get home. After that, we had the concert portion of the day. They invited three stakes from the area and a ton of people showed up! The concert was beautiful. One of my favorite songs we sang was "When Joseph Went to Bethlehem" from the Primary songbook. I love love love that song.

Our Christmas Conference was in Forest Grove and it was WEIRD being back up there!! I feel like I got a little glimpse of what it'll be like some day to come back and visit the mission. I got to see so many people I love so much:  Sister Podwys, Carlos and Maria, and many other families. It was great!! I also got to see Hermana Perez.  She faked being an alto so we could sit next to each other the whole concert :)

I can't tell you how different this Christmas feels. It just doesn't feel like Christmas, but I am definitely way more focused on the true meaning of Christmas than I ever have been before in my life.  It hasn't been about presents or food or anything, just remembering and pondering on the birth of our Savior.  President told a story yesterday about the Christmas Conference up in Bend.  He said one of the members came up to him asking if the Sister Missionaries could please sleep at their house on Christmas Eve so they could be with their family Christmas morning  President said he thanked her for her thoughtfulness but then said he couldn't allow the Sisters to miss out on the opportunity to be alone on Christmas. He explained that this Christmas for us will be special because we will be alone, without family or opening gifts with everyone or movies or anything.  It will just be us and the Savior on that very holy day.  As strange as it sounds (and as much as I really do miss my family and would love to be with them) I am grateful for this very unique Christmas, where I have the opportunity to focus all of my attention on the Savior.

Sorry this is a little shorter but I love you all!  Have a Merry Christmas!  Can't wait to talk to you this week!



With Sister Podwys...found on FB with her comment: "What a beautiful program put on by our Oregon Salem missionaries. My Christmas has been so enriched this year by so much love. Adding to it was getting to see my 4 Hermanas!! One left before I could get a picture of her. Thanks for sharing Christ's light in my life Sisters!!"

Note from Mom:  I found the above pictures from their skit on another site.  Even though they are a little blurry, I thought they were worth posting because they show her sweet, smiling face.  Can't wait to see the video!

Here are the words to "When Joseph Went To Bethlehem".  I see why she loved singing it.

When Joseph went to Bethlehem I think he took great care
To place his tools and close his shop and leave no shavings there.
He urged the donkey forward, then, with Mary on its back,
And carried bread and goat cheese in a little linen sack.

I think there at the busy inn that he was meek and mild
And awed to be the guardian of Mary’s sacred child.
Perhaps all through the chilly hours he smoothed the swaddling bands,
And Jesus felt the quiet strength of Joseph’s gentle hands.

And close beside the manger bed he dimmed the lantern’s light,
And held the little Jesus close upon that holy night.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Very Happy Birthday It Was!

Hi everyone!

Thank you so much for the birthday wishes!!!  And especially thank you to everyone who participated in the box my mom sent by posing for pictures!  It definitely made my day really super special.  It was so fun to see pictures of everyone!  Because we went to pick up our new trainee on Thursday, I was able to go pick up my packages from the mission office that day. Otherwise, I definitely wouldn't have received it on my birthday; things are really backed up because of Christmas and what not. I especially loved the banner! So very creative.

So, we went to the training meeting on Thursday and we got our new companion, Hermana Gifford.  President and Sister Samuelian actually brought a cake to the trainer's meeting as well. I was really surprised they remembered my birthday.  It made me feel super loved.  All in all, it was a really great day!

a bunch of hermanas at the transfer meetings

Goodbye Hermana Macias...she went home this week

Our new companion is so awesome!! Her name is Hermana Gifford and she's from Draper, UT. She just graduated from high school last year.  She went to the Mexico MTC. It's been a blast being in a trio so far!  I'll have to send a picture of our bedroom sometime; it's pretty funny with all the beds lined up next to each other, like a sleepover every night. Our bedroom actually got switched to the living room in order to accommodate it all. It really has been awesome, though. One thing I really like about Hermana Gifford is that she asks a lot of questions. I remember when I was a trainee and my trainer asked me if I had any questions I always said no. But Hermana Gifford actually takes the time to really think about, and come up with, specific things we can help her with. I just think that's so cool!  To me, it really shows that she wants to learn and wants to improve as quickly as possible.  We're super excited!

Jessi's (someone they're teaching?) birthday is actually today so since ours are so close together, we had a combined birthday dinner over at their house. It was super fun!  We made really yummy food and tortillas. There's this hispanic tradition for birthdays that the birthday person has to "bite the cake" meaning they literally put their face in the cake and take a bite out of it. As part of the tradition as well, someone shoves the person's face into the cake. It's pretty funny. So we both participated in that!

Party at Jessi's!

  The bite

After the shove

This Christmas season has just been so special. I hope everyone has had the opportunity to see the "He is the Gift" video!  It is wonderful. I love the message. As a mission, we've also been memorizing The Living Christ for the Holiday season and it's been so amazing. That document is so doctrine packed. I think now, more than at any other point in my life, I really have come to understand the Savior and the eternal significance of His life and, most especially, of His Atonement. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be on a mission and for this time to really get to know my Savior.


Have a great week!


Hermana Meise

Monday, December 8, 2014

I'm gonna be a Mom!

Hi everyone!!

It's been a super good week! The most exciting thing that happened was that Sister Cardon and I found out that we're going to be "Moms"!  In mission lingo, that basically just means we're getting a trainee. So, this Thursday, we're going to get a new missionary straight from the MTC and, for the next twelve weeks, we'll be living the trio life and showing her the ropes. We're super excited! There are five Hermanas (out of 15 total) going home this transfer and six coming in so a huge turnover. We're trying to brainstorm and plan right now to make sure that this training cycle, everyone gets the best start they possibly can. It'll be great! 

I'm not sure if I already told this story, but a couple weeks ago we got a call from Elders in a different area giving us a referral. When we went and contacted them, Hermana Cardon kept saying, "I just think I know her from somewhere."  When we went back for our next lesson, after asking a couple of questions she realized that she had taught her about a year-and-a-half ago in her first area in West Salem.  Crazy, huh?  So we've been teaching her for a couple of weeks and we also started teaching her sister that lives there with her. This last week we had a lesson with her sister. We had given her a Book of Mormon the last time so we asked her if she read and she recounted to us the whole first vision. It was awesome. 

We also finally had a lesson this last Saturday with a referral we've been trying to contact pretty much the whole time I've been in this area. We stopped by Saturday morning and she allowed us to come in and teach her and her 18-year-old daughter, Carina. They are such a sweet family! They were telling us how Carina is in college while her mom is trying to finish her GED. Stories like that never cease to amaze me, that just in one generation so much can change and this whole world of opportunity can open up because they were able to come to this country. It's so, so cool. As we got into the lesson, Carina started crying as she told us about how in today's world, so many people get distracted and forget God, forget that He loves us, forget their purpose. It was a really sweet experience. 

We also had MLC (Mission Leadership Council) this week. Sister Samuelian talked about pride which reminded me of that lesson Mom gave a couple of years ago that she talked about all the time. Her remarks were based on the talk Beware of Pride and basically she talked about how pride is enmity against God, anything that makes us think our way is better than His way. 

Our Christmas Conference isn't until the 22nd of December so no need to worry, Mom, I'll get it in time! (her Christmas box)  I'm so excited to get the packages! We'll be in Newberg on Thursday so I'll be able to, hopefully, pick up the birthday ones.  i think we might be able to Skype on Christmas day in the Family History Center but I'll figure out a way! 

Here's some pictures from the week:

 Christmas tree in the Mission home

Some of the missionaries from the district and Kika, awesome member!  You might remember her from the temple pictures.



Note from mom:  Thankfully, I already knew what the term "Mom" meant in mission lingo before her email came so she didn't get me this time!  The talk she referred to is such a great one that I quoted from when I gave the lesson she referred to.  One of the family jokes is how I kept reminding everyone when they were saying something prideful but then noted that by doing so, I, myself, was being prideful.  Here's a link to the talk if you'd like to read or watch it in its entirety:  Beware of Pride

Monday, December 1, 2014

"The pig's head...dropped on the floor..."

Hi everyone! 

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  Mine was super good. Remember how I said we had a dinner appointment with someone in the ward? Well, around 4:00 pm on Thanksgiving day, they called us and said "Hermanas, we have a problem. The pig's head we were cooking dropped on the floor and so we had to go to the store to get another one.  It's not going to be ready by the time you have to be back in your apartment." We got a pretty big kick out of that but also pretty sad at the prospect of spending Thanksgiving by ourselves. We texted our ZL (Zone Leader) and told him our dinner cancelled (because they were in charge of keeping track of where everyone was for Thanksgiving). A few minutes later, we got a call from the APs (Assistants to the President) inviting us to come have dinner at the Samuelian's. We were so so happy! So we got to spend Thanksgiving with the Samuelians, their son and his new wife, and some of the missionaries in the Newberg area. It was a really great Thanksgiving; it definitely felt like I was at my home away from home. Also, the Samuelian's son's new wife is the daughter of my old bishop at BYU, Bishop Walkenhorst. He's the one that did my mission papers and Dad, you met him when you came out to visit me. Small world, huh?

Because of Thanksgiving and meetings and some other things getting switched around, it was kind of a slow week. We did go on two exchanges, though, so that was nice. It kind of helped to keep things new and fresh. I went on one with Hermana Aubrey on Friday.  She's another missionary serving in the same ward as me.  We were in the CCM together and lived in the same house. We went to visit a less active in their area that they had never met before. When we knocked on the door, this angry looking lady poked her head out of a window and said, "What do you want?" We were like, "Oh, are you Rosa?"  She said "yes" with a very suspicious look on her face and asked who we were.  We said, "We're the missionaries!"  She still had a very confused look on her face and said "Wait." We waited out there on her porch for a good five minutes in the freezing cold when we finally started looking at each other and whispering, "She's coming back, right? Should we leave? It definitely sounded like she was coming back." Finally the door opened and she said, "Come in, come in!" She sat us right down at the kitchen table and started making us gorditas (so, so yummy). By the end of our visit she told us that when we go home, we need to tell our parents to go visit Veracruz and that we can stay with her daughters in her old house. It was just crazy how differently the visit ended up from how I expected it to go when she initially opened the door. Such a nice lady.

This was us meeting up after our exchange:

Hermana Aubrey and I look scrubby because we finished off our exchange by helping someone clean and put up Christmas decorations.

We had the funniest fifth Sunday combined lesson ever yesterday at church. Basically the topic of the lesson was "Su esposa es una ayuda, no esclava." Translated: you're wife is a help, not a slave. Hahaha the Hispanic culture is so stinking funny. There was a lot of participation about how to improve marriage with things like "Not telling your wife that she has to heat your tortillas or that she has to serve you." and all kinds of funny things. It was absolutely hysterical; everyone was dying laughing.

Have a great week!


Hermana Meise