1) I hope you aren't disappointed that we didn't send a "hump day" package or anything. But I'm putting $30 dollars in your account today to go to dinner or lunch with your companions to celebrate on Wednesday. We love you! I guess that wasn't much of a question, but these are:
2) What do you feel is the best thing you've learned on the mission thus far?
3) What is the best thing you did to prepare to serve a full time mission?
4) Are you finally feeling completely confident about the language, now that you're half thru?
5) What do you remember about the summer after graduation before you left for school--as far as things we should have/could have done differently as parents of a young adult? I'm having concern about this with your brother.
1. Not at all disappointed. I can't think of anything I direly need anyway so I'm good.
2. The BEST things...? Well.....there's lots of things. I don't know that I can pick just one.... I'll think on that as I type this email/do P-day things and write some more later on.
3. Best thing to prepare to serve.....I would have to say daily scripture reading. Even if I wasn't always super studying them, I was at least in the pages of the words of God. I was familiar(ish) with the scriptures beforehand and now so much more so. Or maybe just being committed to do whatever is asked of me. Because I don't think there's one thing that really prepares you for a mission. There's just no way to prepare for all the stress and excitement and disappointment and just plain hard work. It's a combination of all the things I did/was taught I think. Going to church every week and being mentally present there as well. Having time away from electronics (especially a phone) every day. Fulfilling church callings. Going to the temple. Reading the scriptures. Praying daily (or at least trying, in my case). Actually, of all the things I did to prepare, I think the one that had the least effect was the mission prep class. But that's just me. I was raised right and taught the principles of the Gospel in my home and in Church, and I tried to live those principles.
4. Well I think I feel pretty good at Spanish. I mean, I can have an entire Gospel discussion no problem, and non-Gospel topics are getting easier to converse about. But I don't know that I've ever feel COMPLETELY confident simply because it's not my native language. There are still things in English that I don't know, so I personally don't believe I will ever totally master Spanish. But I certainly feel more comfortable now that I did nine months ago. Es una lucha cada dia, pero continuamos pues. haha
5. I'm not sure on this one either. I think the best thing for me was that you gave me my space and my freedom to do what I wanted. Of course you still wanted me to tell you where I was going, who I was with, and when I'd be back. But you didn't demand that information from me. You simply stated that it would courteous of me to tell you those sorts of things. Also, I think it was good that I had a job and I wasn't receiving allowance anymore. What I wish I would have done is made a planned budget of sorts for the school year. I did just fine of course, but I wish I would have been more conscious of the amount of money I started with and then what I did with it. But I don't know what you could do to instill that desire in Cameron. That's all I can think of...sorry. I hope that helps a bit. haha
Well, first off: sorry last week's email was pretty short. I put off writing emails all day and then had hardly any time left to do so. This week I figured I should make it more of a priority. And I'm going to try going through my gratitude journal to remember what happened so that I actually have some thing to tell you all about.
We had dinner with the Kitch family. Oh man. They are hysterical. It's almost like I'm at home again. (I can't remember what I've told you so I'll start at square one.) Hermana Kitch is from Uruguay and Hermano Kitch served his mission there. He met her after the mission when he was working there for a member (I think that's how it was). They have three children: Zoe who is 14, Bella who is 11 (?) (today in fact is her birthday), and Austin who is 6. And they tell the best stories and just have a good time as a family. It's awesome. They tell us we aren't allowed to eat unless we can say what the food is called. Last week we had empanadas and Hna Hunsaker got it wrong at first so Hna K said she couldn't eat. haha (of course she let her eat though, no worries) It was one of the funniest dinners with them, but not number one. I just love this family.
After dinner we had MCM. But that was about the same as it always is. I learned how to say "fireside" in Spanish: charla fogonera. (I think. Not sure if I remember perfectly)
We had a mini zone meeting for 30 minutes before district meeting. We were chastised for not utilizing President's revelation, but we have repented and changed and we will do better now. After I felt super invigorated to get out there and do my best, which I think was the point. haha then in district meeting we talked about chapter 13 in Preach My Gospel: how to work with ward and stake leaders. It was a really good meeting After we ate something, we drove with the other Hnas to Schaumburg for their exchange to start, and came back to Bloomingdale. We visited with Karla, a recent convert, first. Man she's amazing. She has MS (?) like Aunt Tammy and she is the sweetest spirit I have ever met. She's dealing with the effects of her own illness, and then her daughter and grandson also have health concerns, and that day her suegra (mother in law?) just found out she has cancer, and they're having financial problems and all this other stuff. Oh my goodness. I can't even imagine. Before we'd knocked on her door I was complaining about bug bites I had and then after the lesson I was just in awe of her fortaleza. I realized I really don't have any problems in my life. It's crazy how blessed I am.
We also did some knocking doors and the first door that opened was a lady named Ofelia. We told her a bit about the Book of Mormon and the Church and she asked us how much a Book of Mormon costs. haha it's free! So we gave her one of course, and I really think she'll read it. I'm so excited to go back and teach her this weekend. People like that just make my day. (:
We went to Juan and Jovita's to talk with Claudia but she was asleep. And somehow Jovita ended up making food for us. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love la comida mexicana. SO MUCH. She made beans and eggs of some kind and it was so delicious. I don't understand how something so simple can be so mouthwatering but man, it's true! It is my goal to make a recipe book of la comida mexicana antes de que regrese yo.
Well, weekly planning. I still am not a huge fan but today was alright. I've been exerting myself to be happy about planning. Because it's necessary--and when it goes well I am so grateful for it later on. But something about planning just makes me grumpy. But this week we did good. Well, I did good. haha we were going to plan out on the balcony but then we found some tiny red bugs (Hna Hunsaker said they were ticks) so we decided to go inside. A little bit later, one of those little red bugs showed up on my Preach My Gospel so of course we had to kill it! But I really dislike killing bugs with my bare hands (bacteria I can deal with in many shapes and forms but bugs? No thanks.) but it was going to get away if I didn't so I smashed it with my finger and ended up smearing it. Its blood was orange! haha so Hna Hunsaker wrote in my PMG the date and "blood of a tick!" so I'll always remember. haha good times...
We'd left the bikes at the church last night so we took the bus over there (you can only take two bikes on the bus) and then rode for about 45 minutes to Hna Casado's for our dinner appointment. (We found out later it was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. WHAT?! I think I'm going to die this summer....I've gained a new found appreciation of spring. I think it's my new favorite season now....haha) Hna Casado is from the Dominican Republic and she is so hard to understand. She drops the "s" at the end of words and I don't know what else but her accent takes some getting used to. She's so super nice though. Man she's great. And such a missionary! We've been esforzandonos to ask for referrals at every opportunity and haven't seen much luck. But before we even asked her she gave us two! haha "ask and ye shall receive" even if it's unexpected. Also, she cooked something similar to chile rellenos and man it was so delicious. She said it was Hna Avila's recipe I think. I LOVE chile rellenos. Next time you go to a Mexican restaurante, family, try them. They're delicious....anyway. So we ate really good food. (Oh, and the horchata was also Hna Avila's recipe. I simply cannot live without that recipe.....haha SO DELICIOUS. Also, get horchata next time you go to a Mexican restaurante. All of you. Do it.)
Afterwards we went by a less active's home and talked with an antiguo investigador that lives there too. He ended up inviting us to La Rosita, a grocery store here, to get helado because they've got a ton of flavors apparently. So we're doing that this coming Friday. haha alright cool.
We helped Hna Martinez make cheesecake--Hna Hunsaker learned a super easy super delicious recipe from one of our investigators so we taught Hna Martinez. (In case you're wondering, the recipe is as follows: 3 eggs, 1 cap of vanilla, 1 block of cream cheese, 1 can sweetened condensed milk. Blend all together. Pour into a pie crust. Bake at 350 until cooked, about 30 minutes. Enjoy.)
I also packed for exchanges. First time leaving my area! haha fun fun fun. Before I left though, we taught a lady named Tomasa. She kept asking questions that would've been answered if she'd just let us teach the Restoration....but I had the opportunity, once again, to bear testimony of what I know, without a doubt, to be true. Man I love feeling the Spirit, especially when it testifies through me. And I know she felt the Spirit, even if she didn't accept what we had to say. She wouldn't take a Book of Mormon at the end because she's content to study with the religion she's currently studying. Alright,
we respect that. It's always a little sad when someone won't open their heart even if a little bit, but I left knowing I'd done everything I could've. And that's all I can ask of myself. Met up with the Hermana Training Leaders at our church. I went with Hna Akina to Arlington Heights and Hna Miller stayed with Hna Hunsaker and Hna Lunt here in Bloomingdale. So I know I'm an awkward person, and it's always a bit weird when the exchange first starts because I'm just not a fan of people and getting to know someone new is always a bit odd for me. But man, Hna Akina is amazing. She said things I needed to hear and it was really fun to get to know her. She told me she also wants to work for the FBI and her dad does/did so I'll going to have to keep in touch after the mission so I'll have an in. (; haha anyway. Up in Arlington Heights we met with the YW Presidenta. She and all the leaders are concerned about the youth because they're getting into things they shouldn't and so they want the hermanas help. So we talked about that. It made me think about what it was in YW that we did/that happened that made me want to be active throughout my life. What helped me gain a testimony? And I don't think I could place it on just one thing. But, good thought provoking stuff. haha and it made me wonder too: Mom, when you were in the presidency did you and the other sisters worry that much about ALL the girls? I guess I was pretty oblivious all growing up to what was going on, but I think you must've been. I think that's one reason why the Church programs are so successful; the leaders are so genuinely concerned about the participants. Plus, the Church is led by Jesus Christ so, you know, that's quite the advantage.
We had a few appointments with potentials that Hna Akina hadn't met because they were found on exchanges when she wasn't there, haha but we went by anyway. One thing led to another and we ended up talking with a guy out in the parking lot and he let us teach the Restoration! It was so cool. For about 20 minutes I think we were all standing out in the parking lot, as it rained, (we were all kind of underneath the trunk of the car, but mostly I wasn't. Ah well) and he was so ready! haha his name is Abel and he committed to all four invitations (reading, praying, church, baptism). I'm going to ask Hna Akina if he came to church when I see her on Friday. I love people like that. And it was like a nudge from the spirit to get back in the habit of talking to everyone and to teach when you find. Because if we hadn't done those two simple things, we wouldn't have even talked to him, let alone taught him. Alright. I'll do better at that. (: Plus, right before getting out of the car I saw a Libro de Mormon on the ground (of the car) and so I grabbed it and put it in my bag. I hardly ever carry them because it makes your bag so much heavier. But! Good thing I did so I could give it to Abel! haha that was from the spirit, I tell you what.
Basically, Saturday was a really good day and the overall feeling I had was: I love being a missionary. Of course it's hard and uncomfortable and difficult, but it is oh so rewarding in more ways than I could possibly say. Exchanges are such a great inspired thing. (:
Also, I found out that the daughter of our recent converts told Hna Hunsaker Saturday morning that she does want to be baptized! WOOHOO!!! Oh man. We were SO super duper excited. haha she wanted to be baptized 13 June but her parents will be out of town. So we said the 20th. Her brother may be out of town with his mom for his birthday so we're waiting to hear about that. If so, we may have the baptism on the 19th. We are so excited though. Man. AH! I love being a missionary. (:
We went to Primary again to help with the music. Oh man. I am SO not ready to have kids! (In case anyone was worried). I mean, they're cute and all, but man: they're crazy! haha I'm working on loving them more because that's what Christ would do, but it's a long process haha. One day I will love them without question. Some day....
The last lesson we had was with Carlos. He's on date to be baptized on the 26th or 27th of June. And he's been having some struggles with the Word of Wisdom but he's all clean now! haha his "deadline" was June 1st and he did it! SO happy! haha we had an interesting lesson too because it didn't go exactly according to plan. We ended up talking a lot about repentance and I said things that I didn't know what I was saying. I don't think that made sense but whatever I was saying was definitely from the Spirit because they weren't my words. But afterwards he was like "wow." So it must've been right. haha and then, after we said the prayer, he offered us some rice and of course we said yes so we had some arroz con leche. It was the second time I've had it and either the first time wasn't a very good recipe or it was too cold or something because it was DELICIOUS this time. Man. So warm and it just made me so happy. haha my companions were a little weirded out I think. But it was delicious. haha made me warm on the inside. Plus, we had some pan dulce with it too and boy was that tasty. haha Carlos is so nice. He's basically a member too, he just needs to make it official. haha we're excited for his baptism too. (:
Well, that's it for what happened. I hope you appreciate all that because man, that was a HUMONGOUS email. haha as for this coming week, we've got zone conference on Friday so that'll be good. I'm hoping we get to have our interviews with Presidente Fenn. (: We also found out that on the 26th there's supposed to be some sort of mission thing that could be from 6 am to 9 pm, according to Hna Miller. Hm.....okay. Hna Hunsaker and I are secretly (not so secretly) hoping that we're going to go to Carthage as a mission because the 27th is the anniversary of the martyrdom of Jose Smith. I mean, apparently Presidente took everyone to a baseball game his first year so Carthage is totally viable. haha. (: But anyway. Next week, I probably won't write this much, but there you have it: a week in the life of Hermana DeBuck.
And back to the best thing I've learned on my mission so far: well, I think it would have to be what most missionaries under President Jerry Fenn would tell you--that I know without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is true; it is a record of the ancient inhabitant of the Americas and through it we can come closer to God than through any other means. It was translated by the gift and power of God, by the Prophet Jose Smith. He was called as a young man to be the mouth piece of God on the earth today, and through Him we know more about the Savior Jesus Christ and His Gospel than through any other man who has walked or will walk the earth. The Church that was restored through Joseph is the kingdom of God on the earth today, and through it we can obtain the ordinances of salvation, in order to secure for ourselves exaltation in the life to come. I now know exactly what I need to do every day of my life to gain eternal life--life with my family in the presence of God. That life is only possible through the Priesthood power of God, and through my own obedience to the principles and ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm not perfect, nor is anyone on the earth today, but it is possible to be a little better today than I was yesterday. And that is possible every day.
Con Todo Mi Amor,
Tu Hija y Amiga,
P.S. Look at this cool picture! It's the only actual photograph of Joseph Smith. How legit, right? haha (literally)