Tuesday, September 30, 2014

CCM: Week 4 What I Wish I Had Known

Mom/Editor notes:  these are the questions I asked her this week, which she answered in her letter first off:
5 Questions:
1) Did you leave your little iPod charger plugged in in the family room?  We found one there and didn't remember whose it was. It looks newer, so I thought it might be yours.  I hope you took your new one with you.
2) Can you print the attached sheet music?  Or do I need to send a hard copy too?
3) Did you get to watch the Women's Meeting?  Or is that for the Hermanas while the Elders are in Priesthood meeting Saturday night?
4) Did you get the other letter I sent via the Mexico MTC package service?  I'm curious with the time frame of getting it to you.
5) How is the laundry situation for you at the CCM? Are the facilities like school? Are your clothes getting clean enough?  Do you have enough supplies?

Primera, respuestas:
1. I nunca charged my iPod in the family room....so it's not mine.
2. I don't believe we can print. If we can, we've gotta supply the paper. But I just drew/wrote the music down for Come Thou Fount. It was so dim that my photo of the computer screen wasn't visible. The other one will be fine. I used to have it memorized so I think once I play it some more I'll be fine.
3. We didn't watch the women's meeting last Saturday, but we get to watch it this Saturday mientra the elderes watch the session de sacerdocio. We are stoked. I've loved Conference for a long time--especially once I began taking apuntes--but this time is unlike any other. I can't explain it. I mean, we have devotionals here two or three times a week, but conferencia general is gonna be like devotionals on steroids, times five. So, yeah, we are pretty dang excited. And then, our last Sunday, our topic for talks is our favorite discurso from conferencia general. So, it'll be even more fantastic.
4. I got two letters in the mail from the Dear Elder thing (one I got the email of first) but nothing else. Well, I did get a letter from Grandma Jo--I will write back Grandma, I'm just a slacker--but nothing else from you guys. So if there is something else, no I have not gotten it.
5. I'm good on laundry supplies. In our casa we have three washing machines and three dryers--though one doesn't work at all--so it's fine. We don't have to pay for it so that's super bien. I believe my clothes are getting clean enough.... I feel clean, anyway. And I guess that's what really matters.

Mamá, ¡es una mujer loca! I know Scott really appreciates everything you do at work, but just in case you need another reminder: you're awesome. Really. You've taught me so much sobre working hard and giving every task my all. Por ejemplo, ayer for servicio, we got to help fold laundry--we don't have to wash our own sheets every week--and I got put on the crew folding fitted sheets. The cute latino hombre taught us how to and the whole time I was thinking, "mi mamá me enseñó cómo hacer este." You are great. Mis hermanas were saying they wished they knew how to do that previously. So, thanks to you, I'm one step ahead of the game. Gracias.

A dear friend on our ward was going through some tough times, and I asked Jill to include her in her prayers
I will definitely keep Doris in my prayers. She is such a fantastic ejemplo para yo y todas las chicas en el barrio. (I can't remember the word for ward, only branch...) Por favor, diga a ella que yo le amo. Mucho.

We found out this week that we're actually an intermediate Spanish class. That was a little weird. Mis elderes (specifically Elder Olsen) said I ought to be in the same class as los latinos. ja, yeah right. They're sweet though. I also found out today that Olsen's familia found my blog. So, if the Olsen familia is reading this, shout out to you guys! Sister Olsen, you have raised quite a good young man, though I'm sure you knew that already. Though we tease him about "Isabel", he really is a fantastic missionary--plus she left today. He's decided that lecciones are better when he doesn't write anything down for them. (I can see his point.) He does such a good job as our líder de distrito. He may be silly frequently, but he has some really good spiritual insights when he tries. And I don't know how much he's told you, but we decided what animal everyone is most like: he's a flamingo. He disagrees, but he is, he is. And we all love him.

Mamá, please get Cameron for this next paragraph or so. This is going to be specifically for him.

Cameron: sorry about your calc test. But who said this was going to be easy? Because I guarantee I didn't say anything of the sort. But, need I remind you: you are a strong, independent [man] who won't let no calculus test bring him down! Look, in all seriousness, you are a brilliant kid. And I know we've told you before, but you just need to apply yourself. Look at how far you've come with golf. Do the same exact thing with calculus! You had Henry for golf; find yourself a tutor or a friend who will help you through it every day. I'm willing to be that Amy will help you when she has the time. You golfed hours on end EVERY day this summer. You need to apply yourself just as much with math. I know you've got other responsibilities, but you really need to apply yourself in class. And then set aside some time EVERY day for calculus. If something doesn't make sense, then call up a friend who can help you out. I know you've got the resources, you social butterfly, you. If I were a commercial, you know what I'd say? Just do it! Plus, YouTube has some great stuff on there about math. Use the Internet--productively. I promise you can do it. If you put in all the time that you can and then pray for help, I promise you that you will succeed. (I'm a missionary remember, and I do not tell lies nor slander.) Success may not be exactly what you want it to be, but it will be success all the same. I promise you. Okay? Okay. Good talk. P.S. What was the name that you always called Trent? Not that I want to call him that, but I've a point to prove with Jensen. I can't remember what it was, but you always had one specific name for him....remind me, please. Thank you. Love you, brah.

Sorry about your visiting teaching, Mamá. I imagine in a month or so I'll be able to really relate to that....but I'll worry about that when the time comes.

That Medical Explorers thing sounds fantastic! Man, I don't know exactly what suturing pigs feet will be like but it sounds thrilling! Wish I could do that....I miss chemistry and bio so much. I know, I'm such a nerd....but I do. Today, I was talking with Hermana Capps about my knee grinding and she said it's probably my meniscus. My first thought was the meniscus in a test tube or graduated cylinder.....I'm such a dork. I know. But, when you're a biochem major, what else do you expect?

Cam and I were asked to "chaperone" a singles dance last week and I told Jill about that experience.
A 30+ singles dance....? That just sounds....painful. Oh man. I feel for Amy and Chris and Heather. No está bien....that's rough. I don't even want to contemplate that. I can't even contemplate dating in 17 months. Uh, yeah, just, no.

Oh man. Talk about rain. EVERY single time it rains super badly, I'm wearing those off-white flats I have--that have holes in them. Oh my goodness. It's awful. My feet are soggy and gross way too frequently. No me gusta.... I love the lluvia, but not having mojados feet.

Sunday was our annual Sacrament meeting Primary Program
Glad the Primary Program went well. All three of my hermanas taught primary at one point and liked it and I was just like...I subbed a few times...and I never wanted to go back.....ah well. Maybe someday I'll like Primary. Just kidding. I mean, hopefully maybe but I am doubtful. Which means I will most assuredly be in the black hole of the church at some point....wow don't I sound like quite the optimist....lo siento, mamá.

I told her of plans for care packages to two darling friends in the Provo MTC prior to their leaving fro foreign countries soon.
Oh hey, speaking of Josh: I saw him! I mean, we watched a live streaming devotional last Tuesday (I think) and he was singing in the choir. I watch for Maddie every time but have yet to see her....ah well. I think it's more fun than playing I Spy for Mr. Whitaker during conferencia....I should probably pay more attention, but it's kind of hard to take notes during a choir number. I will say that it's kind of weird to hear english music now...when we have live devotionals from provo and they put the words on the screen, Presidente Pratt makes us find it in our himnos and sing it in Spanish....it's kind of weird. Watching the chorister is trippy when he's singing the wrong words, too. If you get ambitious, try singing along to a song during conferencia in español. Es muy divertido. But, don't feel pressured to do that. It's just kind of fun and trippy.

Okay, so: antes I tell about my week, I have compiled a list of things I wish I would have known prior to entering el CCM, and some things I'm glad I knew. Here it is:
1. Bring laundry detergent and dryer sheets. The Tide pods work fantastically. You can buy laundry detergent at la tienda, but it's kind of a hassle. Each tiny bottle is only good for two loads, is my understanding....but those are your options. Also, you don't have to wash you sheets. Just take them off every Monday morning and put them in the pile of sheets by the door. Then get a new stack of sheets at the end of the day from the closet by the cleaning supplies. That is really great.
2. Hermanas, you are required to wear a slip. 24/7. So don't forget one. I did, and had to buy one at la tienda. They're about 80 pesos, I think. So not terribly expensive, but I wish I would've just brought mine.
3. You're going to use muchos papeles. Bring notebooks to write in. Especially if you're learning a language. Mi compañera es muy listo. She has one notebook for spiritual stuff (devotionals and classes and whatnot) and one for Spanish stuff, including lesson plans. Do things like that. You can buy notebooks here, including a cool little binder thing to reuse with notebooks (I would highly recommend getting one because where else are you gonna get something like that? Exactly.) But you'll want paper.
4. You don't need bedding here en el CCM. However, you do need towels. Do NOT forget towels...that would be bad. Those microfiber towels work really well, and I would suggest bringing a towel for your feets when you get out of the shower. Currently there is no rug on the floor and the floor gets really quite disgusting....so, be warned.
5. It's actually cold here in México, on occassion. You probably ought to bring sweaters and cardigans and leggings and other warm things. I would also suggest bringing boots. You will use them. Promise. Though, it is extremely hard to guess when it's going to rain (and when I say rain I mean, pour.)
6. Definitely bring an umbrella. I don't care where you're going after the CCM. You will want an umbrella. Also, rain coat. That would be a good idea. Yeah.
7. You're given oodles of language help books, plug Preach My Gospel and Predicad Mi Evangelio & español escrituras--no need to bring your own. So many books, so little time. Seriously.
8. If you like water, bring a water bottle. They do have their own clean water here so you won't need a filter during your stay in el CCM, and they will give you a water bottle with a filter before you leave. (We've been told everyone gets one regardless of where they'll be serving. Not positive on the truthfulness of that information though--stateside is questionable.)
9. You'll get a "debit card" of sorts to use at the tienda. Do NOT just throw away the paper that it comes on. There is a PIN underneath where the card is. Do not lose that PIN. If you do, to check your balance or withdraw pesos or anything, there will be a fee. Just, don't lose it. Hermanas will begin with 120 pesos on the card and then get 120 each Wednesday for the next four weeks. Elderes begin with 100 and get 100 each week for four weeks. So if you forgot something you desperately need, you'll be okay. Most likely.
10. If you want to buy things at the temple book store, bring cash. You can exchange American dinero for pesos, but Finanzas en el Recepción building has weird hours. So get that all figured out in advance before you go to the temple. You can't use cards at the bookstore. Only cash. Also, in case you're wondering, the scripture cases I got are 45 pesos each (90 for the set), and then there are t-shirts, as well as Mexican looking shirts and skirts (for Hermanas). They also have HLJ rings, and bookmarks and lots of other fun things. Lots of people will get scripture cases for family members or other things as gifts. So, look forward to that trip.
11. Hermanas, you're not allowed to wear earrings here that are longer than an inch long. So...yeah. That didn't affect me, but Hermana Powell says that most of the earrings she brought are too long. So watch out.
12. When I asked mis elderes for their top piece of advice, they all agreed unanimously: more corbatas (ties). You can bring more than you'll wear and even some you don't want to wear to trade ties with people or give them to gifts (hermanas, you may want to bring some for your elderes. I promise you'll learn to love them.) So, lots of ties. That's the number one things from mis elderes.
13. My hermanas said more skirts and shoes. We decided a black skirt is necessary, as well as white and grey and navy. We were told that we're not allowed to wear Toms because they're canvas and the rain is kind of a problem with that, but I still wear mine because they're not too casual looking (they're sparkly black Bobs). But I wish I would have brought a pair of black flats. As well as nude flats. Also, I'm wishing I would have brought more/different shirts. Bring shirts you love, not just shirts that match everything. Also, wish I had more shirts that don't need to be layered. Because it gets hot here....cardigans are great because they keep you warm when you're cold and you can just take it off when its too hot.
14. Elder Jensen's piece of advice: "it doesn't suck." Enough said.
15. The food here IS good. Yes, there is a lot of authentic Mexican food, but there is cereal for almost every meal, plus milk, and they frequently have nutella and peanut and bread by a whole line up of toasters. Peanut butter and nutella sandwiches are heaven sent some days. But you'll like the food. Just give it a chance. However, you may want to bring your own snacks. Mexican candy is an acquired taste. Mis hermanas wish they would've brought Swedish fish and Tootsie Rolls and chocolate and things. You'll want some normal American treats every once in a while...
16. You'll want more SD cards than you think. I've brought a total of 32 GB, and I think I'll be okay, but if you take a lot of pictures, you may want more. I dunno. Also, I would strongly suggest getting an SD card reader that works (test it before you get here.) It is fantastic. Plus, then if you get sent pictures you can put the pictures on your SD card and have them for sure. Also, you could probably set up a Dropbox account for pictures instead of using so many SD cards. Just get it set up before arriving, and then email the link to your myldsmail account so you can easily access it. I didn't do this, so I'm just guessing that it would work. I know some missionaries do that.
17. I wish I would have brought one or two more pairs of shorts for gym. We're not allowed to wear spandex of any kind. Some loose fitting sweats (from the PJ section of Target) would also be advisable. If you don't get too hot when you work out....I'm probably gonna invest in some when I get to Illinois.
18. I wish I would have brought more T-shirts too. Mostly I brought black T-shirts and my shorts are black as well...so I look a little odd. But yeah. If you don't sweat a ton or work out that hard, I wouldn't worry about it. These are just my musings.
19. Tide-to-Go pens. You will want these. Whether or not you are prone to being messy, I would bet money (if I were a gambling sort of missionary) that a member of your district will be prone to messes. I can't tell you how many times I've used mine. They're fantastic. The elderes especially use them frequently.
20. You may want to bring your own whiteboard markers. You can buy them at the tienda, or you could bring them, or you could not use them. If you have them, make sure they are clearly marked as your own. Mine has Hello Kitty duct tape all over it (thanks to Hermana Haws) so no one will be taking that anytime soon.
21. Flash cards! Bring some index cards and scissors so you can cut them up into smaller cards. That helps a lot with vocab. If that method of learning works for you, do it. (Again, these materials are available at the tienda if you don't bring some then later decide that you want some.)
22. I wish I would have brought a laundry bag of some kind... the closets are not optimal for anything really so currently I use one of two drawers for my dirty laundry. Then there is a small sort of shelf and then some hanging space. You can bring your own hangers but there are also some in the casa--see if you can't find any more when you get here.

Okay, that's that. Now, let me tell you some stories about the week. 

Currently, we are listening to Primary songs in Spanish. ¡Está muy bien!  Oración de un niño, en este momento.

Uh, yesterday Elder Bronson had about a half an hour long discussion with Hermano Sanchez about whether or not Sanchez should bring him some ties from outside the wall. (He's not allowed to.) But Bronson just kept trying to convince him to do so. Oh man. He just would not give it a rest.

We've been trying to memorize la Primera Visión en español. Pero, está muy difícil. So, we developed a game of hand volleyball. Every time we hit the "ball" we say the next word. It is actually really effective. And muy fun. We got the baptismal invitation memorized through that, and we've got the first half of la primera visión down tambien.

En Jueves, we had un devocional, live aqui. We had two people come speak to us. One was Elder David F Evans and the other was stephen B Allen. One is the managing director of the missionary program, and one is the executive director. It was amazing! One of my favorite quotes from it was "Your pruspose is not so much to be doing missionary things but to become a missionary." Also, they told us "Plead with the Lord for help, then get up and go to work!" I think that applies for all aspects of our lives. Whether or not you're a missionary, plead with the lord for help and then get up and go to work. That's as simple as it gets.

Durante Sociedad Socurro, en domingo, we talked about the doctrine/gospel of Christ, contained in 2 Nefí 31 y 32. It was really good. When we read the part in 32:4 that says if you don't understand it's because you haven't asked, my first thought was when Nefí has his visión y Laman y Lemuel don't understand so they ask him to explain and tells them "have you asked God?" and they're all like "uh, no." Okay, so the only reason they didn't know was because they didn't ask. And it applies to our investigadores: they could have spiritual experiences like Laman y Lemuel pero if they don't ask, then it'll be for nothing.

Entonces, en clase con el CCM Presidencia, we talked about the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the difference between the gift and the power. My favorita parte, by far, was a quote by Parley P. Pratt. Go and find this in it's entirety: "The gift of the holy Spirit adapts itself to all these organ or attributes... In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being." Oh man. How fantastic, no? Yes.

Then, for our Sunday devotional, we watched a recording of a devocional from Provo, recorded on Christmas Day. It was Elder Bednar. ¡Santa vaca! It was amazing! He spoke about the true character of Christ, and how we can exemplify that. The biggest prompting I had during it was this: by Him and through Him, all things are possible. Conversely, anything we do is by Him and through Him. I mean, we're called the dust of the earth, no? Everything and anything we do is because He helps us to do so. That was kind of mind blowing for me.

Then we watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration for our video. I had this thought during the video: When we tell people the story of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ, logic dictates that this story cannot be true. But the truth of this Gospel is not dictated by logic. Our spirits can feel the truth of it far deeper than our logical minds can comprehend. That is the level we need to be reaching with our investigadores. They need to FEEL the truth of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that is the only way to KNOW the truth.  I shared this thought in our discussion as a distrito afterwards. Jensen told me that I write like a general authority....uh, yeah. I don't think so. But thanks anyway. He's nice, usually.

Now, about non-spiritual things:

We played tennis as a distrito one day. We tried playing around the world. Oh man. It was fun, but hard. We needed a few more people I think. Plus, we weren't particularly good at it. Then, the rest of our distrito decided to play volleyball, but Hna Capps and I stayed and played doubles with Jensen and Hoffmann. Jensen and I were on a team, and I think it was the longest time he's gone without saying something sassy to me. It was odd, yet refreshing. Funny kid.

Durante TALL ayer, Hermana Velázquez was with us, and there was this giant thunderstorm and the power got knocked out briefly so we convinced her to let us have a jam session on the piano again. She didn't sing along with us though she knew the songs. Oh man. It felt so good to sing songs other than himnos again. I love himnos, but sometimes I need a break. Plus, I've had Love is An Open Door stuck in my head for days--Hna Powell and I jammed out while she was in the shower and I shaved one night to all the Frozen songs. Plus, one day we passed an hermana who was singing For The Longest Time and that was also stuck in my head for days. Today, Olsen was singing the piña colado song. Oh man. I detest that canción....no me gusta nada. Ayer we sang a bunch of snippets of songs in class as well. Mucho enjoyable. Jensen makes us sound like an angelic choir, that's all I'm sayin'.

En Miercoles, we had our first TRC. We teach "real" investigators a short lesson with almost no preparation. It's hard but I liked it. Our first was a woman who is less active because she works on Sundays. The second was a guy who is an active member. It was fun, but difícil. We do TRC again tomorrow.

Hoy, durante almuerzo, Hermano Shawn Cates came and sat with us. He's the director of the CCM. Oh man. He did a devocional a while ago and it was fantastic, and I've always assumed he was a great person (he sounded like it) but now I know for sure. He asked us what our favorite and least favorite parts of the CCM are (I told him my least favorite part is having gym in the middle of the day...) and we talked to him about his plans after this job (it is a job, not a calling--we didn't know that until we asked.) His darling children are fluent en ingles y en español. It was a really fun chat.

We met a pair of hermanas at dinner one day and one of them was named Hermana Purnell. She was roommate's with Melanie Andersen at BYU. That was kind of coincidental.

There's been an Elder here who has sung a few musical numbers for devocionals and whatnot. His voice sounds like IL DIVO meets Josh Groban....it was trippy. He sounded amazing though. We could've listened to him for days....

A pair of sisters of Jill's childhood friend Brittany are missing, having run away fro home together in July...
I had a thought this week: has there been any news about the Wolferts sisters? I'm keeping them and Britt in my prayers..

En viernes, Elder Bradbeer drew a fantastic picture of Jesus (based on a folleta) on the white board, and en la mañana de Sabado, Elder Olsen tried drawing a different picture of Jesus. The hair on Jesus wasn't straight and wasn't curly so someone asked about it, Olsen turned around and goes, "it's like Hermana DeBuck's hair!" Uh.......yeah. I'm still not sure I feel about that...it was random.

Also, Bronson was trying to tell Hermano Villalobos that he was cool but he wasn't getting his subject and verb matching, so he changed his sentence to "Su cuerpo es muy suave." Villalobos cracked up. He told us that that means his body is squishy. haha (he's not squishy at all. he's a twig.) 

I made papers for a bunch of irregular verbs that have seven different conjugations on each of them. I must really love my distrito or something.

Okay, my biggest spiritual experiencia this week. You ready?

Sabado we were doing practicing teaching. One of us misioneros was the investigador and the other the misionero. I was the investigador first (Rosana) and it was fine. Hoffmann was my partner, and while his spanish wasn't perfect, I could still feel the Spirit. I'm trying to get out of the habit of correcting people because it isn't that important; the spirit is what's really important. Anyway, so that was fine. Then we switched and I was trying to follow the Spirit as I taught. And I honestly can't tell you what happened exactly but Hoffmann and I ended up arguing. Immediamente, I felt the Spirit leave. And I could NOT continue. Without the Spirit, I am useless. I tried to continue, but I just couldn't. So I left the room, went to the bathroom, sat on the toilet seat in my stall and prayed. Which means I ended up crying. Man. It was...awful...but amazing. I realized how much I need the spirit in my life, especially as a missionary. And it made me realize that even though I don't always feel the presence of the Spirit, he is almost always there. And I am so grateful for that. hermana Capps ended up coming in and asked if I was okay. Which set me over the edge so then I was really crying. I eventually told her what happened, between sobs, and i was alright in the end. She and hermana Powell both gave me hugs. I'm so grateful for them. Y por their words of comfort too. Hna Capps later told me that she was kind of jealous about my experience. I'm not sure why because it wasn't fantastic, but at the same time I kind of see her point. It was really powerful for me. I also shared this experience on Sunday for fast and testimonio meeting. The boys later told me it sounded like I was mad at the elder I was with. Apparently i didn't explain that well enough: I was mad at myself. I should know better. But, live and learn. "Eso sí que es" or whatever.

Well, that's about all I have time for. I love you guys lots. I know this where I need to be, and I'll see you 17 months. We ship out in 2 weeks--13 days technically. how crazy is that! Oh my. Also, I'm afraid I'm going to freeze when I get to Chicago....ah well. I'll survive.

Con Todo Mi Amor,
Hermana DeBuck

 Our district with one of our good friends, Hermano Sanchez (he wasn't one of our teachers, but he visited often)

 Us hermanas with Hermana Velasquez, our investigador-turned-maestra. Love her!

Hermana Capps and I with Hermana Arnaud (also not one of our teachers--but we think she and Hno Villalobos should get hitched.....)

Our distrito plus maestro, making fat faces.... (I don't think Hno Villalobos has enough skin to make a fat face...he's too skinny)

 The Elders took a ride in the elevator--and may or may not have gotten trapped for a short time.

 FHE: the most hard-core game of rock-paper-scissors of all time (most likely)

Service at the CCM: we would always ask to go fold laundry--the guys there were so fun!

Mexico has letters on "mountains" too! B for "Benamerito", the name of the Church's school here before it was the CCM.

A note from our maestra, Hna Velasquez. She's so sweet.

God's Plan of Love: this may be slightly misleading, but it's still pretty cool, you've gotta admit.

Hermana Capps and I are super and here we're models, so....fill in the rest yourself.

Our district: whiteboard version.

Lego hands in Mexico!!

Me and Sister Jones. (:

Yes, we actually fit in the cupboard where we kept el gato de Satanas...

Oh what do you do in the summertime--when you have to exercise every day except Sunday? Well, we play volleyball, no matter the weather.

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