Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 17: Best. Christmas. EVER.

 Mom notes: Here are this week's 5 Questions:
1) Do you need more contacts sent to you?  Are you even using them?  Are you sticking with your glasses?
2) Were there any books that you needed that we haven't got to you yet?
3) How are the garments holding out?  I know yours aren't that old, but things happen.
4) Need tampons?
5) Did you get Gma Jo's little package?  Did it make sense to you?  Did you write her a thank you note to that you got it?
1. Uh...I honestly have used my contacts twice--in the CCM--and none since I've been in the field. It's just more work in the morning.... Once it starts snowing for real I may use them again (snow and rain don't go well with glasses) but I'm good on that count.
2. No worries on books. We're only allowed, as missionaries, to read Jesus the Christ, Our Search for Happiness, True to the Faith, and Our Heritage; as well as the Ensign and other church magazines. So I'm good there. Plus, to be honest, there is no time to read anything except the scriptures and Preach My Gospel. Which is okay with me. There's always something to get gotten out of those.
3. I'm good on garments. No holes or anything of that sort, so I think I'm doing okay. That might be a good idea for my birthday though... (; haha
4. Nope. That's what Walmart's for.
5. Yes I got Grandma Jo's package, but no I have not yet written a note back to her; we're only to write letters and such on P-day and it's just barely P-day. I'll be doing that later today--unless something catastrophic happens.

Okay, well this week will be a short email as I just talked to you on Thursday.

The work here is going just swimmingly. I love the people we get to work with. It's so amazing to see the change that happens not only in people's lives but in the people themselves. For example, Julia: you can see the light of Christ growing brighter and brighter in her, and it's all because of the Book of Mormon. I really am so blessed to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. Granted, I'm not always a finely tuned instrument, but it's a work in progress.
The holidays have been a bit rough for key indicator numbers, but this weekend we were blessed immensely: prior to Saturday, we had had about four lessons. But then we had four lessons on Saturday and three on Sunday. Oh man. That is what happens when we plan by the Spirit and we follow the promptings we receive during the day. It was awesome!
We're still kind of in denial because Hermana Israelsen leaves in about a week and we don't want it to happen. I told someone yesterday "tengo miedo"'ll be fine, I know, but I still don't want her to leave. So, that's really sad. So let's not talk about that anymore.

I just wanted to share something real quick that I was learning in personal study this morning. I read from Mosiah 24 about Alma and his people, beginning in verse 17, thereabout. So it says that they packed all their stuff up and it took ALL night. Then they traveled ALL day. When they finally pitched their tents, anyone and everyone who could talk "poured out their thanks to God". And what's the next thing that happens? God tells them that they need to leave. He tells them "if you leave, I'll stop your enemies". But only if they leave right then. They still haven't slept! Maybe it's just me, but if I had been there I probably would have been tempted to say, "let the Lamanites have me." But then, maybe not. Think about what terrible bondage these people had been in. They were willing to pack all night then travel all day and then the first thing they did was praise God for getting them out of bondage. I mean, I don't think I can even fathom how bad they had it. But I think, overall, it just goes to show that even when we do exactly what the Lord asks us to do, we're still going to have to do hard things. It's just part of life. It isn't because He is punishing us; He's testing us. Because that's what life is: a test. It's not supposed to be easy--that would have been Satan's plan. But we all chose to follow Christ while we lived with God in the premortal life, before being born on the earth. We jumped for joy and sang praises to our God for the opportunity to be tested, to have trials, to learn and to grow. So when you're going through a hard time, remember that you asked for this, because you KNEW that Christ would be able to help you. Trust in Him, and you'll never go wrong.

I love this Gospel, and the opportunity that I have to be a missionary and share the happiness that comes through the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's definitely a trial some days, but it is so worth it. I would not trade this time for anything else in the world. Thank you to everyone who makes it possible for me to be here; I know I can't see all that you do for me. This was by far the best Christmas I have yet to experience in my lifetime and I know it's because I can feel the true Spirit of Christmas, the Spirit of Christ, through missionary work. And I can feel it everyday of my life. (I'm already making plans for helping out the hermanas in Logan when I go back to school.) I am so blessed to have been born into this beautiful Gospel and Church, and so it's a small price to pay to be a missionary--and I'm the one that wins in the end. I am so blessed everyday as a missionary. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and all that He does for me. I learned this week that if we don't repent for our mistakes and our sins, then we still have to pay the price for them, even though Christ already has. So make it easier on yourself and don't let Him have payed for your sins in vain: repent! Make the changes that need to be made and you life will be blessed beyond measure--that's what repentance means. I am ever so grateful for the ability I have to repent and to become better, to try again and again to reach my potential. Thanks be to our Father in Heaven for providing a way. He gave us the tools, but we have to use them. I invite everyone reading this to more fully accept those tools and put them to use in your life; if someone gave you the keys to a Charger, it wouldn't do you any good until you put the key in the ignition and turned.

Todo Mi Amor,
Hermana DeBuck

P.S. If the temporal respect, best Christmas present ever award goes to Abby Hollis: 1988 EFY CD = the single most greatest thing of my entire life.
However, this Christmas was the best ever for other reasons, which I will not be enclosing at this time as I don't have the energy to write about it. #sorrynotsorry

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 16: There's A First Time For Everything

Okay, so I guess my mother doesn't love me anymore, as she didn't send me an email yesterday. Therefore, I have no where to begin this email.

To answer a question from my mother:
MCM stands for Missionary Coordination Meeting. It's where all the missionaries in a ward get together--full time as well as ward--with the ward mission leader. We give updates on our investigators and we address help needed. It's quite helpful, especially when we stay on topic.

So I'll be calling/Skyping home on Thursday at 3:15 approximately, our time in Illinois. I have no idea what time that will be in Utah so...that's your job to figure out. Also, I figured out what my Skype account log in stuff is so I can Skype home with that, but I dunno how to use I need your info to do that? Do you (someone in the family) even have an account? I guess just let me know. If you need to make one or you want me to just call, let me know. If you do want to Skype, will you email me whatever information I need in order to "call" you with Skype? Thanks. 
Oh, and here's what's gonna be happening: Hermana Israelsen and I are going to be calling/Skyping from one of our bishop's homes, and he asked us to give his information to our families. So I'll give it to you, and I guess you can coordinate with him, or something. All I know is that we're going to his home around 3:00 PM on Christmas day, and I have a Skype account and an iPad I can use. If there are other things to be figured out, I am no help.

We've also been asked to ask our families is they are receiving emails from the mission office. Are you?

I really don't have a ton to say this week. We've had some interesting experiences, that's for sure.
Thursday night we had a Christmas devotional at President's home, and we didn't get home until 11:30 PM. So that was interesting.... but the devotional was really good(: Our zone did a musical number, that was fun. And then Hna Israelsen played the piano for another so I turned the pages for her (on the iPad--isn't technology amazing?)
On Tuesday we taught this couple, Maria and Manuel. And we basically told them at the end that we wouldn't leave until Manuel said the prayer. Finally he did--for the first time in 20 years! Oh man. The Spirit was SO strong. It's experiences like that that make everything else so worth it.
We got a call yesterday during church, and then the message that followed, from a person who identified herself, and knew our names, and we could not remember who she was. But it was obvious she knew us....anyway, so we set up a lesson with her for Sunday evening, and we found a member. When we got there, and met her again, we still couldn't remember. Eventually it dawned on me during the lesson: Walmart. We had met her on P day at Walmart and, I'll be honest, I had written her off. But, she called us and wanted us to come over! It was so cool. And since she's English speaking we're gonna have to give her to the sisters, but that's okay. They've been looking for new investigators for a while; plus, they'll be a good match for her. So that was a random fun experience.
We taught one of our less actives in a laundromat on Saturday. 
With this He is the Gift initiative, we have a TON of pass along cards. And the goal is to get them all out before Christmas. So in an attempt to get closer to that, we stood outside a couple of tiendas and handed them out. It was so fun. I mean, I thought my toes were gonna freeze solid, but we met so many people. One guy wanted to know our first names (I've made a pact with myself never to tell someone my first name...just no. Not as a missionary.) One quizzed us on our knowledge of Bible verses: he picked Juan 3:16, which, ironically, was on the card we gave him--just so you know, I can't quote Juan 3:16 in Spanish...Dairy Queen does in English though (check out the photo). There was this couple who are actually some current investigators of ours, and a potential. And then we also saw a couple of our members. My brain had gotten foggy or something at one point and instead of "feliz navidad" I said "feliz cumpleanos". Oh man. I dunno what happened, but we were cracking up. The natives I said it to probably thought we were nuts. But it was soo funny... We also had two different people offer us hand warmers (one of them was even English speaking!) so that was really nice. Hopefully at least one of those people leads somewhere for missionaries. If not, at least half of them took a moment or two to really look at the card. So it was good.

I'm sure more happened, but I can't recall. So I guess you'll hear more from me in a few days.

Love you all!
--Hermana DeBuck


Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 15: Tantos Milagros!

Mom note:  Here are the 5 Questions this week:
1) Do you have instructions for us for your Christmas call yet?  Do you get to Skype? What is your time limit?
2) Have you received any of the packages that were sent to you for Christmas yet?
3) Grandma Jo is sending something for you to the mission home, so will you let me know when you finally get it? She'll be worried.
4) Uncle Tony asked me about the chances of stopping to take you and your comp to lunch in January when he goes home to see his family.  I told him he'll have to call the mission president for permission, but I thought I'd give you a heads up, just in case.  He's very persistent. ;)
5) Did you have an address for Super Kate?  Even her home address would work now.  Thanks!
1. Okay, we'll either Skype--using the area Skype account or our own--or call like normal. President Fenn just asks us to be wise in our time usage, so we don't have a set limit. He did say he felt 20 minutes was too short but 7 hours was much too long. So I guess we'll decide more later. Hermana Israelsen and I will talk about it before we email next week and give you more details. What might be useful though is if you can find my Skype login info....honestly I have no idea if I've written it down somewhere or not; I imagine it's probably my regular email at gmail, and my regular password. Will one of you try it out this week and see if that logs you in? That would be great.
2. We will be getting Christmas packages this Thursday at the Christmas devotional we have as zones. So I'll let you know more next week--though I won't be opening them until Christmas, just so you know.
3. I will let you know when I get it.
4. Thanks for the info. He's free to call President Fenn but I have no idea what he'll say. However, his word is law. Plus, I dunno that Uncle Tony would want to drive all the way out here.... (I'm going to operate under the impression that I won't be transferred this January until otherwise told-because I don't want to leave.) 
5. I don't have an address for Kate....but I can ask at the very least. If I remember. 

Where do I begin? This week was full of miracles. It was almost unbelievable.

(First off, I'm typing this while sitting in a Firestone auto shop, and the smell just makes me think of Gilroy. Also, the TV is playing some cooking that a normal car shop waiting room choice?)

On Tuesday last week, during companion study, one of our newest investigator's texted us, asking us to pray for her husband who had just been to the hospital. My first thought was, "if they were members, somebody would take them dinner. So that's what we should do." Eventually, we found someone who could come with us that evening to take them something for dinner--Sister and Brother Tandy--and this family, the G Family, loved it! They have four adorable little girls who have got to be the most polite niñas of all time. Their dad was back from the hospital already so that was good news--he had had a back spasm on Sunday, which is apparently a regular occurrence for him, but it still hadn't gone away by Tuesday, which isn't regular for him. Anyway, it was such a great way for the members to get involved with our investigators and they really felt like they were important to us, I think, which never hurts.

Wednesday, we met with Maria and her husband Manuel, with Sister Grilliot. We were planning on teaching the plan of salvation because we've reviewed the Restoration with Maria multiple times, but Manuel hadn't heard the entire Restoration. So that was rough. They also had some interesting questions that we weren't prepared for (such as abortion) but I think it went alright, all things considered. We definitely need to teach Manuel the entire Restoration.
We also visited the R family; we taught the plan of salvation there (with dibujos) and Victor, their 8 year old who is preparing to be baptized...oh man. I thought he was going to cry. He became super worried and anxious that he wouldn't be able to make it to the celestial kingdom. We and his cute mom assured him that he doesn't have to be perfect to go to the celestial kingdom, and that that is one reason why we are so grateful to Jesus Christ. It was a really good lesson, and so touching.

Thursday: zone conference.
I got Aunt Shannon and Gma's package as well as a letter from her explaining what was in it. I was quite excited to open we opened it this morning--thank you! Those little puzzles have got to be the greatest things I have ever seen.... Ammon. Enough said. Thank you so much! We really appreciate it.
After we got home, we started exchanges! So both of us had appointments for 6:00 but one, our less active, cancelled on us--we later found out it was because he went to do his home teaching, so it turned out to be a really good thing. The other didn't show. So Hermana Santos and I went to Rene with Sister Clay and we had a good lesson about following God's commandments and the blessings we receive by doing so, and we also read from the children's Book of Mormon with him. I had him write down the commitments we'd given--and he didn't write down what I had that kind of explains why he hasn't been keeping commitments. Ah well. It's hard because he doesn't really function on a regular level. But, it was alright. Afterwards, Hermana Santos and I went to MCM where the elders never showed up. So it was us with our ward mission leader--and his wife and newborn. It was a good meeting though. This family, the Moore's, are moving two days after Christmas. I'm gonna miss them...Brother Moore reminds me of our family: he is so sarcastic. So he and I sometimes get teasing each other and it feels just like I'm talking to dad. 
After MCM we picked up Hermanas Israelsen and Torres, and the latter had twisted her ankle--for the third time on her mission. Oh man. The poor hermana! However, we did find out that it was because they had had such a powerful lesson with one of our less active/part member families, the M Family. Here's the thing: Hermana Torres served in this area about a year ago and they were her very first lesson. They had invited Emiliano to be baptized in that lesson and he had said no. This time, she invited him to be baptized and he basically said he knows he needs to be. So after the lesson she was crying (because of the Spirit) and then tripped down a stair and twisted it. So. It was a great lesson, but a sad outcome for Hermana Torres' ankle.

Friday: Hermana Santos and I were dropped off in one area while Hermana Torres and Israelsen went to another. The first house that answered was a potential named Cindy, but we found Felix (her uncle). We also met his twins, who are three years old. We just showed him the He is the Gift video--he didn't seem super interested at any point but it's so cool because you can just see the effect that video has on people. It's amazing. 
Then, Olga & Marcelino. We had met Olga before, and taught her twice, so we stopped by and she basically told us she was too busy, but we asked if we could just share a two or three minute video about Christ with her, and she let us in. Then we met her husband, Marcelino. We ended up talking about how we can give something back to Christ, and we brought up the Book of Mormon. Marcelino was super skeptical the whole time, and I loved it because Hermana Santos basically confronted him about it. Which I think actually helped him realize the importance of it. Anyway, we set up a return appointment for Monday (today) so we'll see them tonight.
We still had half an hour before our next appointment so we tried another potential, Laura, and we ended up meeting her and her family. They were making tamales and they gave us some. Oh. My. Goodness. I just had one--uno de color. And it was sweet---literally. So delicious. They also had tamales de pollo y de queso. Plus, they gave us atole to drink too, and it was pretty good. I'd never had it before but I loved it! It smelled and tasted a lot like Mexican hot chocolate but it was thicker, kinda like the difference between broth and stew. Mm, it was good. Anyway, we also shared He is the Gift with them and kind of invited them to the ward party that night, as well as church. Gloria, Laura's mom, basically told us that she doesn't think you need to go to church because faith is between you and God. Honestly, I'm still surprised by how many people believe something like that.
We left just in time for our appointment at four, but halfway there we realized that we had left Hermana Santos' hat at Laura's, so we ran back for that and then ran to Jorge's where we met up with Sis Antczak. We had a lesson with him about the sacrament and keeping the Sabbath holy. He just started working 5 am to 1 pm, so he can't come to He did tell us that he wants to come to church, and after we shared 1 Nephi 3:7 he agreed that God is all powerful and will provide a way. So now we just have to pray and hope he finds a way--even if it means quitting... but it was good.
We had just enough time for one more lesson, which was good because we had an appointment with Ana. I think she really liked meeting Hermana Santos (who is mexicana and just straight up awesome) and we basically just stressed the importance of praying about what she's reading. She agreed to do that this week. We also invited her to the ward party, as well as the baptism on Sunday (of her sister, Lupita). To both she said she would try to make it. 
We ran home to un-exchange, and then sped off to the ward party--we were already a bit late. We had invited the G Family, and they agreed to come, but had gotten lost so we met them at Jewel Osco, which is right by the church--as well as a Mennonite church, so they had gotten confused. So we finally made it to the Bloomington 1st ward's Christmas party. Since we had gotten there late, there weren't anymore empty tables, so Brother Moore and the elders set up a table for us and the Garza's. We ended up being away from them for a while to talk to Ana for a bit and we were so proud of our members: they were chatting with them and whatnot. That really is what members need to be aware of most, if you ask me. When the missionaries bring investigators to ward activities, just help them feel welcome. Just say hi and introduce yourself and let them know that you're glad they're there. That's all you have to do.
After the dinner (and the Bishop reading a Cajun Night Before Christmas....if that's somewhere online, find it and read it. SO least when read in an accent) we gave the Garza Family a tour of the church. They loved the painting of the First Vision looking at Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and Joseph's back. They were asking us a bit about how missions work and the prophet. We were going to continue but then David turned to us and said, "look, man, you've gotta take this pain away." We had considered offering a Priesthood blessing but then decided maybe later, so I at least took that as a signal to offer him a blessing. So we had the elders come do that and the Spirit was SO strong. It was beautiful. Afterwards, when we were talking to him and his wife, Beverlyn, about it they told us they could "feel the energy" so we explained that's the Spirit. We're planning on visiting them tonight so we'll have a lesson basically just about the Priesthood. I'm excited. This family is so solid.

Saturday: Miriam cancelled on us, but that meant we didn't have to ride the bus for hours on that was a plus. However, on the bus that we did have to take, we met Flori. She's from Guatemala and ended up telling us how a family friend had just passed away (in Guatemala I'm assuming) and she doesn't have any family here so she was really torn up about it, and started crying. We gave her a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and set up a visit with her. I can't wait to see her again. She was awesome. 
Basically we spent the day walking up and down and up and down and up the street. And I came to the realization that that is pretty much all we ever do. Our success isn't really our success--it is completely Heavenly Father's. So that was kind of a cool self-introspection moment (am I using that word correctly? I dunno. I can't speak English or Spanish anymore.)
Then, we visited Julia w/Sis Albrechtsen. First we asked if she had any questions from listening to the Book of Mormon and she asked about that whole daughters of Zion thing in 2 Nephi 13. haha we weren't sure how to answer that--regardless of language--so we said it's just talking about pride. That seemed to reassure her. What was funny was how we communicated about that chapter. It was half Spanish and half body language. I wish I had a recording of my memory of Hermana Israelsen. It was so funny....anyway. Julia also told us, practically out of the blue, "I'm coming to church tomorrow!" We were in shock. But Sister Albrechtsen offered to give her a ride so we got that all figured out. After we got home...we were still in shock...then, just as we finished up planning, we got a call--not from our district leader: it was Laura, saying "we're coming to church." SHOCK. Oh man. We were wiped out, in a good way. I mean, of course we were thrilled but it is so exhausting, missionary work: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So we were ready for bed when the time came.

Sunday. We were late-ish to church, so we were practically running around like crazy people, trying to get the translator all figured out and whatnot. But hey, we had a family of five at Bloomington 1st! Woohoo! They seemed to enjoy it--at least the kids did--and Laura's husband, Alejandro, was participating and reading in Gospel Principles (which we had in Spanish as there were no English speakers there...that was cool.) We also had Ward council after church. It was the first time we've been to Bloomington 1st ward council and I think it really helped our relationship with that ward. It's been a bit rickety, whether because of past trust issues or miscommunication or what, I don't know. But now they know that we're there and that we want to be involved. I do feel kind of bad for them because they have about  30% activity, and they feel like they're floundering. The stake president was there and he kinda gave them a pep talk about not feeling like they need to fulfill regular expectations. He basically told them not to work so hard, which one of the bishopric members pointed out. That was kinda funny. The poor RS president...I feel for her. But, President Johnson had a point. Even though they've got less people, that doesn't mean they have to feel like they're not performing well. Ah well. Hopefully we can think of something to help them. 
Then we had Normal ward. We ended up going to pick up Julia with Sister Albrechtsen  just after the sacrament...but it was good. I also translated a meeting for the first time (Relief Society) and I thought I did terrible, because Julia said she liked the first two meetings but didn't understand the third (which was RS). But Hermana Israelsen said I did well--and she pointed out that she wouldn't have been able to translate her second transfer, so I guess I'm doing alright. After Normal ended, we finally ate...we had been in meetings/running around since 8 am that morning. Whew. I was beginning to get somewhat fatigued I think. Afterwards, we helped with prep for the baptism. We had called Jorge to invite him to come and he agreed so we had to find a ride for him, as well as get the translator ready. They ended up having the first half of the program in the chapel (there were a lot of people--Lupita's family--there, but we moved to the Relief Society room for the ordinance, and since we all fit we just stayed there. The second talk, about the Holy Ghost, was given by Brother Davis, who is a Spanish professor at ISU--he's actually Lupita's teacher. But it was cool because he gave his talk in both English and Spanish, so we didn't have to translate. It was a really good talk to. (He kinda scares us, which is entirely irrational because you'd think it would be scarier to talk to natives in Spanish than a white guy who also speaks Spanish but it's actually scarier to talk to him in Spanish....anyway.) Afterwards we were talking with members of Lupita and Ana's  family: we met Javier who speaks Spanish, English, and French--the elders have spoken with him because Elder Noho speaks French too. And we also more officially met Ana's son, Jarom. He didn't seem super interested, but he did take a restoration pamphlet and he seemed to enjoy talking to us. So, it was really good. Also, here's the funniest story of the week: they had brought cookies as refreshments to the baptism, so we were going to get some (for us and Ana) but they were gone, so we came back and told her, "Hermana, tenemos malas noticias." She got all concerned and legitimately worried, and asked what, and we told her, "No hay mas galletas." Javier standing behind her was cracking up, as were we. It was hilarious. So, you've gotta feel pretty good about your second language ability when you can use humor, right? Oh, it was funny.
When we finally left the church, we rode home with Sister Goodman. She's got this adorable Southern accent and she really just makes you feel at home, like she's your mom and she's got your back no matter what. She told us the story of how she and her husband (Bishop Goodman) met--in the army--and then how he converted. I love hearing different people's conversion stories, as well as the classic "how did you meet?" story. Always. There's is particularly sweet.
When we finally got home, we had been at the church for 12 hours (with two short excursions to pick up and drop off Julia). Oh my goodness. It was such a good day, but so exhausting. I think we were still in shock... but it all actually happened! So, all in all, this week was amazing. 

So far, today, we got all our cleaning and housework done in about an hour and a half, and then we spent an hour and a half at Firestone because we had to get new tires....ohh man. No hard feelings against car shops but we got home and had to turn on the church music right away because my spirit just needed to decompress....the TV, after the cooking show, was on Dr. Phil or some something about counseling for couples who have been in domestic abuse or something I don't even know what. It was just awful, as a missionary. Now I need a nap...

I love this work, and I love this area. I love my companion, my members, my investigators, my mission president, my district and zone. I think I could stay here in Bloomington-Normal forever and be perfectly content. But, as the Book of Mormon warns, we should be wary of contentment. So, I shall continue to work as hard as I can, striving to be worthy of the Spirit in order to bring the eternal happiness of the Gospel to those who lack it.

Love you all so much, and I pray for you nearly every day.

Con Todo Mi Amor,
Hermana DeBuck

Don't get used to this long of an email....I had nothing else to do while sitting in Firestone....

Mom Note:  I'm not sure why these will only import sideways or upside down. I'm sorry.  I'll get the Genius golfer to look at it for me when he gets home.
#1: Hermana Santos and I, at the end of exchanges
#2: Hermana Israelsen and I with our Christmas decorations, due largely in part to Grandma Cheryl and Aunt Shannon.

#3: selfie, because it's P-day.

#4: We drive past this house every time we go to or leave the church.  They are serious about Christmas decorating.... (I can't remember if I've sent this or not, so here it is again):

 #5: The Peoria skyline:

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 14: We Almost Got Hit By A Train!

Mom notes this week's 5 Questions:
1) Do you have any special activities or events you get to do (service projects, etc) because it is Christmas?
2) Do you get to listen to/watch the 1st Presidency Christmas devotional message?
3) How is the weather treating you?  Still pretty mild?  Or has winter shown up with a vengeance?
4) Is the borrowed coat (from the Mission Home) doing OK for you?   Do you need money for one of your own?
5) (Last week she asked for certain Christmas songs in mp3 files sent to her.) Did the mp3 files come thru to you OK?

1. We will most likely get to do service Christmas morning, yes. At least, that is my understanding. And then there are plenty of service projects throughout the month that we will probably get to help with, directly or indirectly. (We bought batteries last week and donated that to the "Stuff the Bus" project.)
2. We did get to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, however it was in Spanish. I actually understood the majority of it, and got the message across, but it really was just such a testimony builder that you don't need to understand everything in order to feel the Spirit. Like when you're little and read the Book of Mormon--I know I didn't really get it, but I knew it was good. And sometimes, that's enough.
3. The weather is actually pretty good. It's been raining the past day or two, but not a downpour. So far the weather is pretty good, but I know it won't last.... There's a pond/lake right by us and it's been frozen and unfrozen multiple times already. It's even snowed a couple times--great big flakes--but it didn't really stick. So far, so good, if you ask me.
4. I actually have not yet worn the coat I borrowed from the I can't report on that just yet.
5. Yes, the files came through. I'll have to pull them off the email next time I'm at the church on P day, but I believe I got seven or so emails with two files each, so when I try downloading them, I'll let you know if it works. Thanks so much Momma!

So. This week:
First off, I can't believe it's December. Who said that was okay?
Secondly, I love this area. So much. Why? Well, let me tell you why:
1. The members here are amazing. We got a call this week from a member, Brother Tandy, asking for our names so he could tell his friend who wants to get in contact with us. Next, Sister Eschmann is going out of her comfort zone to have her neighbors over for a Christmas open house sort of event and basically to introduce the topic of religion.
2. We have awesome investigators. The Bloomington 1st Elders are teaching a woman named Lupita, and we are teaching her sister, Ana. They've been helping each other, supporting each other, and go to activities together. Then there's Jorge, who unfortunately just started work and doesn't feel comfortable asking for Sundays off, but prior to that: we met him Saturday night and he asked if we had church services because he wanted to come--and he did--before we had even taught him! He also came to the family history night activity we had as well as the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. And then there's Angelina (we thought her name was Maria for the longest time....and we're still not sure if it's Angelina or Angela...). About a month, her son and grandson passed away in a terrible accident, and we had the opportunity to teach her and about twelve other individuals the plan of salvation. When we went back and taught her the restoration, she was practically crying while I told her Joseph's description of the first vision. And then when we invited her to be baptized on a certain date, she told us that she wants her daughters to be there too, so we're going to set up a time of the week when we can meet with all of them on a regular basis. 
3. Hermana Israelsen and I are working so hard, I feel. I guess I've never known anything else as a missionary, but I feel like we do everything we possibly can to achieve our goals. And then this morning, we had an awesome companionship study session. We read over the most recent Harvester and just talked about what we need to do to improve, and how we can better work with ward leaders, and how we're going to achieve our goals. Based solely on what we did during that time, it shouldn't have been productive but it was one of the best comp studies we've had, if you ask me. I don't want January to come because I feel like we work so well together and I'm going to have to learn how to work with someone new. But it'll be good. Anyway, we were thinking that we really need our ward leaders and members on board with "Baptizing is a matter of desire, attitude, and faith" because it feels a bit like they do not have attitude/faith in us with our part member families, if I'm being completely honest. But we're hoping to strengthen that relationship so that we can achieve our goals. It's definitely a learning process.

I did learn this week the definition of "not keeping commitments". My understanding was that a person is not keeping commitments when they accept a direct invitation and then don't do it. But that is not the case. Which is good to know. Unfortunately, that means that we have no progressing investigators because no one came to church. However, they are progressing in that their faith is growing--they're just not progressing toward baptism. So we'll have to remedy that. But I believe we can do it.

One really sad thing this week is that the A-family went to Mexico for the month. So they won't be back until January. However, we did get an address (sort of) so that we can send missionaries to them while they're in Mexico. Hopefully it's enough of an address that the missionaries can find them. I think it'll be good for them to meet some other missionaries too.

We're still kind of struggling to find Charlie. We had left a Finding Faith in Christ DVD at his house for him on Monday last week, then Tuesday he texted us--we thought he was dropping us. But he actually just said thank you for not giving up on him and that he liked the movie. So we invited him to the family history night, and he came. He didn't actually do any family history, but he did talk with the zone leaders and also with Brother Smith and I think that really helped a lot. However, we haven't been able to get a hold of him since then, so hopefully he's doing alright.

Maria and her husband Manuel are also doing well. Manuel was really intrigued when we read from the introduction of the Book of Mormon where it says it's the most correct book. So he's been reading. Then Maria, we had felt like we hadn't explained clear enough for her to understand but when we reviewed she actually remembered a lot--even specific things. So that was awesome.

Julia still isn't coming to church, so we haven't really progressed anywhere with her; she's been sick this week so we weren't able to meet with her. Supposedly her job is ending in January, and she said she would even quit her job if she received an answer, but I feel like she's had ample opportunity to receive it so it's more likely she's not recognizing it. So we'll see what we can do about that this week.

Ana is doing really well. Lupita (Ana's sister) told us that Ana told her that she (Ana) wants to come to church and is thinking about not working so that she can come. She has been reading the Book of Mormon and last we met with her she asked what the difference was between Nephi's mayores plates and menores plates. This lady is just stellar. We just need to make sure she isn't too distracted by all the cool information and that she has a testimony of the truth of the Book.

The Rodas familia, that just moved in a few weeks ago, is amazing. They came to the devotional last night and totally fellowshipped Jorge last night. Oh, they're just so great. I love Hispanic people. Their adorable son, Victor (8 years old) is awesome. He's so excited to be baptized. And then Rogelio, who is three, has this bien lindo mass of hair. Oh man. It's to die for. They also have an 18 year old, Jose, who is preparing for aa mission. He's also great. Basically, they're one of the best families ever. haha I just wanna adopt them.

We also found two new investigators this week: David and Beverlyn Garza family. They're so cool. So here's what happened: about a month ago, we met David outside washing cars (mom, these cars are so legit and I am so sorry that I don't know what they are) and he told us about the Guerrero family who had just lost two family members in an accident. So we taught them and have visited them a few times. But then this last week, on Monday or Tuesday, we decided to try David too. He hadn't seemed particularly interested when we first met him but then we decided, you know what, why not give him a second chance. So we knocked and then when he answered the door, he was willing to talk to us on the porch, but he said the house was too messy. However, it was freezing, and we can't really be alone with a man, so we asked if we could set up a return appointment. We did, for Saturday at five. We also thanked him for telling us about the other Guerrero family; we said we got to help them by telling them about what happens after death. He told us he just had a buddy pass away last week or so, and we offered to talk about the same topic with him on Saturday. He said that'd be great, and then we parted ways. We got back in the car to figure out if we were gonna go to a different area or not, but then he knocked on the car window and told us, "why don't you just come in and we can talk about that right now". So, we did. We taught David and his wife Beverlyn about the plan of salvation and they were SO into it. Oh man. It was awesome. We gave them the pamphlet to read and then decided we would come back on Saturday. 
Then, when we did that: we asked if they had any questions and they did: what's the Book of Mormon? and why are there so many churches? Oh baby. It was perfect! They had read the pamphlet (together) and had questions that led us right to the restoration, as planned. It was just simply amazing. Also, what was cool, was their two oldest daughters (10 and 8) listened in on the lesson too, and when we offered to bring a Book of Mormon with pictures, they said they would love that. I mean, can it get any better than this? haha I love them. 

I would tell you more about them but I'm sick of writing. (Sorry.)

I'm going to attach (hopefully) a document written by our amazing mission president and I want you all to read it because it is SO SO SO good. I mean, for reals. Everybody else is missing out because this is the best mission ever. President Fenn is a genius.

Anyway. I love being a missionary, even though it is THE hardest thing I have ever done. I have the greatest experiences and the worst experiences, but I am beginning to trust in that everything happens for a reason, so it's completely okay. I love this Gospel and it brings me so much joy to be able to share it, even when it's not totally accepted. Keep spreading the Gospel in whatever way you can and look for the blessings that come, because I promise they are there.

Love you all!
Todo Mi Amor,
Hermana DeBuck

We didn't actually almost get hit by a train. But we thought we almost got hit by a train--it wasn't moving but had it's lights on, and it was dark, and we were afraid we were about to die. But it's okay, because we were fine.
(: I hope you didn't have a heart attack when you read the subject line.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 13: Happy December!

At least as happy as it can be when you're preparing to be snowed in. JK. It's not that bad. But I imagine it will be soon. 

My district leader, Elder Noho, is from Tahiti. He was disappointed this week because it had gotten warmer and he thought he wouldn't see anymore snow before he goes home--in April. Oh dear. I'm afraid we'll see more snow that there is sand in Tahiti before then.......just saying.

Mom notes:
5 Questions:
1) What did you end up doing for Thanksgiving? Did a member family feed you? Did you have any lessons that day?
2) Any word yet on whether or not you are purchasing your iPad?
3) Is the weather getting wetter/snowier/colder?
4) How is Sister Israelsen doing, knowing these are her last few weeks in the mission?  Her mom mentioned that she will start USU right away when she gets home.
5) How are your baptism (those set with dates) candidates doing?
Okay, five questions:

1. For Thanksgiving we did go to a member's home. The Albrechtsen's signed up to feed us, and we went to Brother Albrechtsen's sister's home (the Anderson's) who had a daughter and son-in-law there, plus all the grandkids. Oh man. I have not been around that many Mormons in such an enclosed space for such a long time.....It was crazy. But good. (Unfortunately, no corn.) We did have two lessons: one with a less active couple and one with an investigator family. Plus, we did (most of) weekly planning in the morning so we had a busy Thanksgiving. Never a dull moment here in Normal, that's for sure.
2. I have no idea about the iPads. I think I'll know more as I get closer to the end of my full-time mission--which isn't for a while, thank goodness. I made a comment this week to Hermana Israelsen about how soon she's going home. She wasn't too happy about that....haha
3. Yes. The weather is colder--or was: this past week it got kind of warm again. (the calm before the storm). We have had snow a couple times but not even enough to cover the grass. And it has rained/slushed a couple times. But nothing too major in the weather department as of yet. Thank heavens.
4. I think she's doing well. She doesn't want to think about going home--I don't blame her--so we don't really talk about it. It's kind of a sore topic for nearly dead missionaries, I think. I found out this week that the Normal ward has a reputation for killing missionaries--they get to the end of their mission while serving in the Normal ward. There will be two from Normal this next transfer: Hermana Israelsen and Elder Skinner.
5. I will get to our on date people in a moment.

First off, just a kind of funny thing: in Bloomington First ward's Relief Society/Priesthood combined meeting yesterday, Brother Thayn taught (he's in the Bishopric) and before he started teaching there were four things written on the board:
1. Ban Harry Potter!
2. Golden Balls
3. From Ptolemy to Kepler
4. Wikipedia
Needless to say the first line bothered me quite a lot. But, it was okay. It was just to make a point about how we don't need to worry about other things distracting our kids (or whoever) as long as they've got a testimony of the Gospel. That was basically the point anyway (I think). But yeah. That was kind of funny. [Also, Golden Balls is apparently a British game show. You might wanna check it out, mom....haha.]

Second, I really don't want to leave this area. I wasn't worried at all about it until today when we were talking with the sisters about whatever and then the outcome of next transfer came up: Sister Oliphant thinks they're gonna pull us hermanas and the sisters out, make the district leader Spanish speaking, and then white wash the sisters's area with elders. I really hope not.....but I guess it could. Next transfer 18 sisters are going home and only 3 are coming we'll see what happens.

I am officially 6 days behind in my journal writing....but don't worry too much. I write a sticky note every night that sums up the day so that I have it when I get around to writing....haha. Ah well. You do what you can.

I cannot believe how time flies. Each day feels like a week but each week feels like a day. It's awesome but also scary--I don't want anything to change. But, I know it will. I'm already dreading (that's probably too strong a word) when Hermana Israelsen will leave. But I know whatever happens is what's best for me in the long run. So I'll just trust in that. I really don't want to leave this area though......just so you know....for what it's worth. But I will do whatever the Lord asks.

This week was really good. One day we ended up with four other lessons because people just let us in. (I really love being a spanish speaking missionary.) But I feel like all our people that we've made goals for in December are just falling off the wagon. I feel like we are trying so hard to do anything and everything we can do help them and they just won't have it. So that's kind of disappointing. But then Saturday we were knocking some potentials' addresses and we found two people (not the listed potentials) who are really promising. The one, Olga, asked "which of the churches was the original church?" She just asked such great questions that led right into the next part of the Restoration. It was awesome. And then the other, Jorge, invited us right in--there wasn't a woman so we couldn't go in--but then asked if we have church services and we said yes; he asked when and we said tomorrow at 1:30. He said he wanted to come but didn't have a way there, so we told him we would find him a ride. When we got back to the car we realized that we had told him the wrong time--we forgot which ward boundaries we were in--so we debated about whether or not we should go back and tell him because the actual time was 8:30 AM and most hispanics don't want to go that early....but we eventually decided to tell him and he said okay. He still wanted to come! So we found him a ride and then went with them in the morning, hoping he had remembered and was ready and whatnot. And then, miraculously, he was! We hadn't even taught him anything (other than at his door) but he said he enjoyed church and wants to come back next Sunday. I did feel bad for Hermana Israelsen because she had to translate all three hours and it seemed every speaker/teacher kept using all these words and phrases that we just can't translate--we only know Gospel topics in Spanish! But it was good.
The Acevedos Family are an emotional roller coaster. We keep thinking we've planned for everything and then something totally unexpected (and unplanned for) happens. So that's interesting. They have fallen off date because they didn't come to church so that's a bit concerning. We're not sure if they need more space or what, but we think we figured it out this morning during comp study: they don't understand the nature of God. That's basically square one; how can they understand (let alone have a testimony of) other doctrines if they don't know who God is. So, that's where we're at there.
Charlie: we thought we'd made some progress because we texted him asking how he's been and he said he got some medical help and is doing a little better. We asked if there's anything we can do and he said to continue to send him links. We told him of course and to let us know what he thinks when he watches them, which he said he would do. But he hasn't responded saying how they were or we're not sure what's going on there. And we're not sure how he would react to stop bys. But we're gonna try tonight, so I guess we'll see.
Overall, I feel really good about this area. I love the people--members and nonmembers. The hispanos are awesome because they just let you in, especially when it's cold. Granted, that is a bit of a double-edged sword because we have all these lessons but they're not actually interested... And then the members. They're amazing. They take care of us so well and then  every time we're in a members home and invite them to share a doctrine of the Restoration, they're already doing that! I wanna be like these members when I'm no long a full-time missionary. 

I'm really excited for this He is the Gift initiative and I feel like it'll be really successful--as long as we utilize it the best we can. What's really cool is the background info on this. We got an email that included a powerpoint used at a mission leadership meeting (or something) that gave some info about it.
- on December 7th, the Church has bought the "masthead" of YouTube in the US, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Brazil. It is estimated that 220 million people will see a 30 second version of the video with an invitation to learn more on
- inspiring messages and images will be available to share on social media sites (do it!)
- select visitors' centers will feature month-long displays inviting visitors to discover, embrace, and share the gift
- the Church will have a strong presence on video boards and billboards in the Times Square area of NYC; the materials posted will remain from 1 Dec through 1 Jan
- your December Ensign will include the same pass along cards that us missionaries will be using (so I invite you to use those to spread the Gospel!)
So get excited about this! The First Presidency is really pushing it and we're feeling it through our mission leadership. It's gonna be great. Plus, the video is beautiful. Share it with everyone!

But, I think that's about it for this week. I'm looking forward to another one! 

Con Todo Mi Amor,
Tu Hija y Amiga,
Hermana DeBuck

Sent from my iPad
So, we're at the church, hopefully not for too long, so I figured I'd send you some photos from my camera while I can. You should be getting a bigger email later today, so no worries there.

Hermana Israelsen's mom said she got your package and that it contained "delicious homemade candy" so I'm assuming you sent nanaimo bars/fudge. Hopefully you didn't tell Cameron....
Love you!

 Our apartment

 Mexican restaurant that we went to. SO delicious. But I have no idea what "Potrillos" means. (JK, it means "foals". The decoration are deceiving....)
Thanksgiving dinner. This is Brother Anderson. He speaks Spanish, and works in the Family History Center.

Because. We're awkward.
 Two others...

This guy's got you beat, Papí.....unfortunately, my photo doesn't even capture all the magical glow--there are decoration in the neighbor's yard too.

Some decor at Los Potrillos.