Wednesday, December 25, 2013

¡Feliz Navidad!

Oh man...Christmas Guatemala style has already been quite the experience. It honestly feels more like 4th of July than Christmas. The weather is perfect still and everyone has been lighting off fireworks for the last month. It does not feel real at all that it's Christmas Eve.

 So last Wednesday we had our Christmas Activity for the mission. We wore up at 3 am to go to the temple. We sat in the back of a truck part of the way and it felt like I was dreaming. I was so tired! But it was really fun! We got to the temple and it was amazing as always! It was fun to see missionaries from a few other zones too! I've been here long enough that I know quite a few of the other Sisters. It's fun to be around other missionaries. After the temple we had free time to play basketball or watch movies (church movies...don't worry. It wasn't TOO crazy.) Then we had lunch catered by the CCM. SOO good. Those lucky little missionaries in the CCM. Then we had a devotional with the mission President of President Brough. It was really cool to hear from him and see where he gets all of his obedience from. President Brough focused on the mission of Christ, which was a cool take on a Christmas talk. The birth of Christ is so marvalous, but His Atonement is what makes it so important! It was just a really awesome day to see other missionaries and President Brough. We also got packages! Shout out to the Andrews family for being so awesome and sending me that fun package! That was so exciting. They sent me a super fancy pedometer (i think thats what it's called. I can't really tell the difference anymore between real words in English and words that I just think are real). Yesterday I took 21,077 steps, burned 456.6 calories walking, and walked 7.98 miles. Incase anyone was wondering.

 Last night our branch had their Christmas activity. We could only stay an hour and it started late so we missed basically all of it. They started at 7ish and it didn't end until like midnight. They are serious about these Christmas festivities. They had tamales, and ponche (which is fruit punch but made out of real fruit, not koolaid mix.), a testimony meeting, watched a movie, had 2 pinatas of Mr. and Mrs. Claus, gave gifts, had a nativity by the primary and who knows what else! Man. It was a party. The big day here is today, the 24th. I cannot imagine what's going to happen. We can stay out until 12:30 (I have no idea how I'll be able to stay awake that long. But I'm determined). We're going to the Relief Society President's house and having a Christmas lesson then helping her decorate her tree. Apparently right at midnight there are a ridiculous amount of fireworks. It's going to be insane!

 I'm so thankful for the people here. They are so loving and good to us! It's weird not to be at home for Christmas but I love these people so much!

This week was kinda rocky for us. We don't have any progressing investigators and we are just trying so hard and trying to find every little way to be obedient and diligent. Before my mission I thought I had faith and patience. I thought that I had some charity and humility, I thought I had a good start of the attributes of Christ. But Heavenly Father has shown me this last week that there is always so much more to develop, especially with faith. We have 5 potential baptisms for this weekend. And our investigators weren't pregressing as strongly as we had hoped, so we focused so hard on having faith. We prayed and fasted so hard, not knowing how the Lord was going to help us reach our goal. We just turned it all over to Him with a perfect knowledge that it would all work out if we worked our hardest. We were heart broken on Sunday when none of them came to church. I learned a lot from this. Mainly, I was able to excercise and develop faith like never before. We haven't seen the miracles we expected, but we see lots of little miracles every day. I know that it's all according to our faith. I'm so thankful to have Hermana G here to experience this all with me. We know we did all we could in our power. We dont know why these 5 people aren't ready to take this step, but Heavenly Father does. It was hard, but I'm thankful for the chance I had to draw a little closer to my Savior as I brought myself to a whole new level of faith.
I hope everyone has an amazing Christmas! Thank you so much for all your support and prayers. I need every little blessing I can get. The mission is hard, but there's never time to be down. There's always another miracle around the corner. Love you all!
Package from the Andrews family

Their Christmas tree.
 (one of the Hermana's families sent this cute tree to her)

Making Tortillas

Mr. & Mrs. Claus piñatas after the Branch Christmas party
(we thought it was funny they beat Santa and Mrs. Claus like this)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We're Orphans!

Yep.  Hermana G and I are all alone now without our mom.  Hermana H left last week.  We were expecting a new comp but it's just us two.  We are so so excited to be together still.  I love her to death.  There were a few days last week where things weren't going as planned.  But we were working our hardest and we knew they were out of our control.  It was hard not to get down on myself and think that we can't do this because we're new.  But that's not true.  We're working hard and being obedient with exactness so we know the Lord won't let us fail.

Tomorrow we have our Christmas activity with some other Zones!  We get to go to the temple (at 3 am...but still SO exciting).  Then we're going to hang out and eat lunch.  And we're having a devotional from the mission president of President Brough!  That will be really really cool!  And we get mail.  Woo!  It will be a good day.

So Hna G and I have been in the field long enough now that we've noticed a trend in the excuses people have not to talk to us.  Here are some of our favorites.  'Fijase que...
-we work.'  Hm...this is really a unique situation.  No one in the church has a job, so we're going to let you off the hook.
-we're Catholic.' So are the rest of our investigators.  This message is for everyone!
-I have to burn my trash and take a bath.' Hands down our favorite excuse so far.
I love talking to people all the time.  They make me smile.

So this week in our little pueblo there have been a lot of festivities.  I don't know exactly why, but this weekend was insane.  There was a huge festival with a concert and a lot of little stands.  And one night we were trying to get home because it was like 8:55.  Then in the distance I see a giant cloud of smoke.  Then little flickery candle lights.  Then a giant herd of people in really scary masks walking towards us (kinda like the Burger King guy).  A procession of people with incense and costumes and chanty thing was right in front of our house!  We were just laughing so hard!  Of course this would happen to us.  It was so terrifying and so funny at the same time.  We couldn't stop saying 'Oh no..OH NO!' as the mob got closer.  The emergency hand book says to go straight home and call your district leader if there's a public unrest.  We joke that we should have done that.

There were one or two more processions this weekend.  As creepy as it was at moments, the town looked cool. Everyone washed the street outside their house and decorated it with flower petals and balloons and lots of cool stuff!  It was hard to find people to teach in their houses because everyone was out, but it was an interesting sight.  

Things are a little rocky right now as far as having investigators that are progressing.  But we are working so hard.  We've been working on getting our faith up.  We set a goal of 3 baptisms at the beginning of the month and sometimes I think, well it's okay if Heavenly Father has plans for us besides getting these 3 people converted.  But no!  It's not like that.  That goal of 3 new converts is revelation from Heavenly Father and we just have to have the faith that He will help us meet our goals.  I'm excited to see all the miracles we'll have these next few weeks.

And since it's almost Christmas, just don't forget to make Christ part of your life.  Center your family around Him.  Center your life around him.  It's so incredible to see the impact that a spark of faith in Christ has on people.  My favorite thing to do as a missionary is to tell people that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them.  The feeling I get when I look someone in the eye and say that is indescribable.  If you don't believe that, let yourself believe it and feel it this Christmas.  Give yourselves for Christmas.  Find your testimony.  Bear your testimony. I love you all so much and hope everyone has a good week!

You have a Heavenly Father who loves you so much more than you can imagine.  Believe it and let it change you.

Thank you to the nice sister visiting Alexis' area who emailed me (Jenn)this
picture of Alexis and the other Hermanas when they past them on the street. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Done With Training!

Ah!  I'm done with training!  I really can't believe I've been in the field for 3 months already.  And Saturday was my 4 month mark from when I left.  It has gone by so fast.  I can't even explain!

Twelve Days of Christmas is going so good! So far our song goes like this...

10 little nice things
9 silly pictures
8 lessons with members
7 new investigators
6 references received
5 Dominoes (pieces of pizza)
4 Quetz for English
3 Choco dips (ice cream cones from McDonalds or choco muffins...we had both)
2 singing contacts
and a testimony in sacrament meeting!

And everyone should be so proud because I have really really big stickers now in my book for completing my training.

This week, as always, was filled with adventures (aka inconveniences and trials that we turn into fun things).  On the top of the adventure list this week would be getting lice.  SO GROSS!  I know.  We found out that all of us 5 sisters in our house had it!  It was horrible!  The nurse and mission president's wife were freaking out.  We were freaking out.  It was bad!  But it's okay.   I'd be way more grossed out and upset about it if I wasn't living in Guatemala.  Things happen.  There's even a special shampoo here called Adios Piojos (goodbye lice), we thought that was hilarious.  But we have made so many jokes making fun of our lice problem.  It's really lightened the issue.  We've really gotten a kick out of yelling 'We have lice!' in English to the weirdo men who flirt with us on the streets.  So that's the adventure of the week.  No one worry. 2 bottles of adios piojos and way too many jokes later, we are lice free!

I found out Monday that I'm staying in this area with Hermana G.  I'm soo glad I'm staying!  I love the people here and we have found some really awesome investigators this week.  I know that Heavenly Father is keeping us here for a reason. I am so excited to spend Christmas here and to stay in an area that I love.  But I'm even more excited to find the people who need my testimony specifically these next 6 weeks.  I cannot explain how thankful I am to be a missionary.  I have never been happier.  I'm sure hard times are right around the corner, but I'm so excited to see how they'll help me grow.

Thanks for everything!  And Love you all!
   Here is Alexis with her zone.  So many Hermanas!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Things We Do For Stickers

Hello everyone!  Sorry I was all stressy last week.  It was a crazy day!  So my companions had to go to the capital so I was in our area with the other companionship.  Everything that could go wrong, went wrong.  We were walking to the buses to get back to our area for lunch and our appointments.  And this week they raised the bus price and apparently people we're not willing to pay so the buses JUST TO OUR AREA were shut down.  Someone said there was a little bus coming in 5 mins.  So we waited 5 mins, then 10 mins, then 30.  So we finally decide to take a little taxi, which is a lot more expensive but we couldn't waste any more time!  We go and eat lunch and I try to call some of our planned appointments to tell them we couldn't make it, but their phones weren't working.  And we called the member that was going to be my companion for the day and of course, her phone wasn't working either!  Finally we meet up with her and pass by our house and see a note from my companions.  They had come back from the capital but couldn't get a hold of us.  We had just missed them!  So I'm panicking not knowing where my comps are.  All the little kids are telling me 'Oh!  The other Hermanas are looking for you!  They just passed by!'  Ah!  It was so frustrating knowing I was so close and yet so far.  But I finally found them.  It wasn't that bad now that I write it all out and think back on it.  But there were just sooo many unplanned things that were out of my control.  And I missed my companions.  But it's okay!

Thanksgiving was great!  We went to lunch at a member's house in our neighborhood. She's from Canada so she knows more about Thanksgiving than anyone else here.  She made all kinds of good Thanksgiving food like green beans and potatoes and rolls and AMAZING chocolate cake for dessert.  It was sooo good!  We had to explain some things to our roommate from Honduras.  She didn't know what things like gravy were.  How weird, huh! And it was super funny because there's a Guatemalan lady who works in the house we were eating.  And she sat down to eat with us then jumped up and said, 'Oh wait!  I brought tortillas!'  She ran and heated them up for us.  Because what's Thanksgiving without tortillas!  We had cute little papers to write down what we're thankful for.  It was like something we'd do at home.  But I realized that I'm thankful for a lot of different things this year since I've been able to live here.  Some of them are kinda funny because I never would have thought I'd be extra thankful for these things.  But a few of the things I'm thankful for this year are...
-paved roads
-not sleeping on the top bunk
-peanut butter
-the fact that there aren't dogs everywhere in the states (side note:  I have decided that if Guatemala was a book it would easily be Go Dogs Go.  There are literally dogs of alllll kinds everywhere.  There are dogs on the roofs and at church and following us around.)
-being able to get out of bed in the mornings
-arroz con leche

and of course I'm so grateful for my family and friends.  And most importantly the Gospel.  Hands down the biggest blessing in my life!

So this last 6 week change has gone by soo fast!  I only have one week left of my in field training!  How crazy is that!  It really have been a very magical 12 weeks thanks to my amazing trainer.  So in the first 12 weeks of your mission you get a little booklet with goals you have to complete each week.  And Hna H gives us stickers in our book for each goal!!  And since this is the last week of our training we kinda ran out of goals.  But we still wanted stickers of course.  So Hna H made more goals for us.  Really awesome goals.  She made some secret goals that she only told us we got after we completed them (like getting more contacts than her in one day), bonus goals (like contacting 5 couples making out with the Law of Chastity pamphlet), and these last few days of training we're doing '12 days of Christmas' goals.  Hna H even made up a song to the tune of 12 days of Christmas that she sings every morning so we find out our goal for the day. We started Dec 1st, so this is what we know of the song so far...

'On the third day of Christmas, my trainer made me do...
3 chocolate muffins (we always buy muffins on the way to district meeting)
2 Singing Contacts (This was a blast.  We had to contact a bus singing and it was awesome.)
and 1 testimony in sacrament.'

Yep.  My trainer is the best ever.  So the lyrics of our contacting song were so great!  It's to the tune of that primary song 'I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints.'  It rhymes in Spanish but will only make sense in English so I'll write both...  

Soy de la Iglesia de Jesus Cristo De los Santos de Los Ultimos Dias
Yo se quien soy yo, Un hijo de Dios.  Ustedes tambien.
Compartimos un mensaje de Cristo, y un profeta viviente.
Este evanglio cambia vidas, y vamos a pasar sus sillas

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
I know who I am, a child of God.  You all are too.
We share a message of Christ and a living prophet.
This Gospel changes lives, and we're going to come by your seats (to write down their addresses and teach them.)

It was a huge hit.  We got lots of smiles. Oh...The things we do for stickers.

We don't have a ton of investigators who are progressing right now which could by frustrating but we are trying our hardest and still seeing miracles.  We had a really cool experience with a lady Sunday night.  It was late and we were already done with all our plans so we knocked a door we taught once.  A lady answered and  said she didn't have time but I talked her into a 5 minute lesson.  We just explained prophets really quickly, it wasn't anything too special during the lesson just all the normal principles we go over.  But after the closing prayer we looked up and she was just bawling.  We felt like we shouldn't say anything, so we just stood there for a few minutes with the Spirit so strong. She said she felt good and we bore testimony of how we don't know her problems but Heavenly Father does and He loves her.  I challenged her to be baptized and she accepted.  We didn't say much and neither did she.  All she could say was gracias.  We have no idea what happened, but we know it wasn't us that touched her.  We didn't do anything special.  The Spirit just works through us and leads us to people in the moment they need us.  We're going back to visit her tomorrow.  It was such a cool experience because we could feel Heavenly Fathers love for her so strongly.  Our message is so powerful because it's true.  I love how faith in Christ and His restored Gospel touches people and changes their lives.  I'm so thankful to be a missionary!

Thanks for all you guys do for me!
Love you all!

Hermana Haymond

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Another week in Guatemala

This Volcano has been puffing lots of smoke this past week!
First of all some shout outs.  BRANDON!!!! Congrats on your mission call!  Portugal is way lucky.  I'm so stoked for you.  And Sadie and Chase, I got your letters!  Thanks so much!  I'm glad you're both doing good.  And thanks for the dear Elder, Mom!  Ah!  Thanks for all the support guys!

I feel like there are still some questions that I got in dear elders that I haven't answered.  Sorry!  I'll try to answer them really quick...

I don't give out a ton of my stickers actually.  Because if I give one then the kids want them every time and I just don't want to be the sticker lady.

Church is really interesting.  Our branch is small and fairly new.  So people are still getting the hang of how to handle callings and such.  It's hard to coordinate things at times and the responsibilities fall on us a lot.  But it's fine.  We like to help out!  

And it's really not that bad having dinner at 9:30.  Sometimes between lunch and dinner we stop and get some bread from a bakery really fast or something.  But otherwise it's just normal now to eat late.

It's still super nice here!  It feels like perfect May weather.  Some people think it's cold.  But it's not when you're from Colorado.
This weekend our stake had it's very first stake conference!  They split the area a few months ago.  But it was cool to be a part of.  They watched a broadcast with President Eyring and Elder Scott.  They spoke to all the stakes in Guatemala.  How exciting!

Ah!  I'm so sorry!  This day has been kinda stressful so I can't really think of much to write about.  Boring...I know.  It's stressful having people's salvation in your hands.  But every good lesson we have, every hard working investigator, every investigator we have at church, every person we baptize is worth all the other moments of stress and hard work.  Heavenly Father always gives us miracles and He let's me be happy despite of all the little difficulties.  So that's good.  
Love you all!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

¿Que es la verdad?

Alexis said she loves these giant leaves and gets so excited when she sees them.

It's been yet another really awesome week!

One morning we got a call saying that no matter what our plans were we had to teach two recently baptized people and sing the hymn 'Que es la verdad' and teach them about the Family A Proclamation to the world.  So we started our first lesson with a convert and it became apparent very quickly that we had no idea how the hymn went.  We asked everyone in the house and no one knew.  We tried to sight read it (for me this means just guess the notes and hope you're sounding how everyone else sounds)  but we failed at that.  Later we tried to sing it to the tune of I am A Child of God.  Genius idea right!?  Almost.  The words went with the tune perfectly, until we got to the last line.  We had to squish in like 4 words on the last note because it didn't match up!  It was horrible!  We were like what are the odds that none of us know this hymn!  The lady we were teaching was very unimpressed and told us we really should study and practice the hymns first.  But we were just cracking up. So now we sing the words 'que es la verdad' to every tune possible.  We think we're hilarious.  (I, Jenn,  google translated the title of the song and  it translates to "What is the Truth"  So maybe it might be "Oh Say What is Truth" is our hymn book?)

So almost every Monday we go to this place called the paca.  Its basically the mall of all thrift stores and its awesome!  We get really good stuff so cheap!  Yesterday I bought 2 shirts for 1 quet, which is like 15 cents in the US.  So that was fun!  At the paca we always find hilarious stuff.  Yesterday I found a bib that said 'Happy Hanukah'.  I was sooo close to buying it.  How random!  If you want a Hanukah bib, come to Guatemala.

We had a baptism this weekend!  It was so awesome!  He is just a sweet little old man.  He has such a strong desire to do whats right and follow Christ.  He's one of the brothers that is so fun to teach because he's like a little kid.  It was so exciting to see him get baptized because last week was rough with him and one lesson he got really mad and said he didn't want more.  But he realized that wasn't how it really was.  Now he is just so happy!  He was wiping away tears when he got confirmed on Sunday.  It was so sweet!  He's going to be a faithful, hard working member.  He's awesome!  That was incredible.

This week we really saw how Heavenly Father help´s us meet our goals when we're working hard.  There were a few days where we were walking a lot more than we were teaching.  We'd only have 3 or 4 lessons in one day which is really low for us!  Then we had days like Saturday where we found 18 new people to teach in just a few hours! It was incredible!  Some days are a little rough, but then we have days full of miracles.  It's so good to know that when we're working hard, we can have the assurance that Heavenly Father will help us get done what He needs.  I'm so thankful to have this experience.  If Heavenly Father really needed to, He could convert everyone without missionaries.  He could send angels and make everyone have an Alma conversion.  But no.  He let's us as missionaries have the privilege of helping people.  And through this we get to learn and grow too.  Its just so humbling to think about.  I love this!

Thanks so much for everything!
Love you all!

Hermana Haymond

I asked Alexis to send pictures of the inside of their apartment so here is a picture of their beds, the bucket shower, and her desk.  She said the beds are messy because they were washing the bedding.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It's that time again!

It's that time again.  Time for the Tee Shirts of the week!!!
-On a 3 year old little boy ..."Future President" with an American flag
-"Bingo Tuesdays!"
-And a purple shirt on a grown man..."Put on Your Big Girl Pants.!"

On that note...this week had it's surprises, but was still good.  Yesterday was really fun!  We played futbol with one of our recent convert families.  We played with kids and their moms on this huge dirt field.  They all got so into it!  Moms were pushing and kids were so serious!  Our team won.  Ah!  It was like indescribable.  Playing soccer on a dirt field in Guatemala...I felt pura chapina!

So I've been thinking a lot lately about the things that feel normal that wouldn't feel normal if I wasn't a missionary in Guatemala.  For example...
-Talking to old men with machetes
-Talking to strangers in general
-Seeing the sun set behind a volcano every day
-Showering in a bucket
-kissing people on the cheek (that's how everyone greets each other here)
-wearing a skirt (someone asked us if we've worn skirts all our lives.  they were surprised that we actually wear jeans in real life)
-Waking up at 5 am and going to bed at 10:30 pm
-Eating tortillas with everything

But there are somethings that I don't think I'm ever going to get used to.  Like the fact that I'm actually in Guatemala.  At least once a day it hits me how lucky I am!

Being a missionary has really made me love obedience.  I LOVE all the rules we have.  That sounds really weird.  I know.  I never thought I'd say that, but it's true! Of course we have to obey the commandments, and we have the rules in the missionary hand book.  But we also have lots of other rules that President has set as a mission.  A lot of them are little things that might not make sense to a lot of people, like not eating during studies.  Sometimes we have rules for safety or to have the Spirit.  But more than anything they bring miracles.  When we obey the commandments we obligate God to bless us.  It's the same with all our rules.  The more rules we have, the more we obligate God to bless us with miracles.  This work is hard and I need all the miracles I can get.  I could never bring myself to break a rule, no matter how small.  I can't rob myself, my family, and my investigators of those blessings.  It's hard to put into words.  But my testimony of obedience has grown so much!  I'm so thankful to have learned what I have.  I know that all that I've experienced and learned will help me for the rest of my life.  I'm so blessed to be here and have these experiences.

Thanks for everything!
Hermana Haymond
Alexis loves the children there

Playing futbol with the Familia H

She looks so tall next to these Guatemalan women!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chicote con Satanas!

Alexis received a USB converter for her SD card in her camera thanks to her CCM companions Mom so Alexis sent us lots of pictures this week!  Thank you Susie for getting that for her and to her, your awesome!

Hermana Haymond in the Capitol

Alexis with her comps and the other sisters in their apartment

Halloween was just a normal day here.  I only saw one person in a costume.  The big day here is the day after Halloween, Day of the Dead.  It's kinda the same idea as memorial day.  Everyone buys these little kites and flies them.  So that was really cool to see!  We bought some little ones just for one quet for the memories.

This week President Brough is having us do a 'Semana Perfecta'.  This means that every missionary in the mission meets our goals of exelency.  And each day there are different things to focus on.  Like last night we tried to have as many lessons in the house of a recent convert.  Today is to contact as many families as possible.  There are different challenges and goals every day.  And every companionship in the mission HAS to baptize.  Otherwise it would not be a semana perfecta!  We have two baptisms on Sunday.  They are awesome!  They're two guys in their 50's or 60's.  We started teaching them separately but then we found out they're brothers!  How funny is that!  They are soo fun to teach.  They're both so excited to learn about the gospel.  It's seriously like teaching Primary kids every time.  We have to keep them on topic and make sure they're understanding.  It's so precious!  We were explaining how this week before their baptism Satan is going to attack and try to make them not get baptized because they're so strong.  And one of them said 'CHICOTE CON SATANAS!'  Which basically means I'm going to show Satan what's up!  Idk how to explain chicote in English but it's a good word to use.  It was so funny though!  This little old chapin guy.  Ah!  I love teaching them.

So being in a companionship of 3 white girls, we get a lot of interesting comments.  A lot times the men try to yell things in English to us...Or at least they think they're speaking English.  The funniest attempt at a pick up line we've heard yet was this one guy yelling 'Do you espeak inglish?  Good good!  Lady!  INFORMATION!'  And he just kept yelling 'Good good! Information!'  Out of all the words in English to yell you pick 'information'?  Gosh. The people here make me laugh.

Sorry this email is a little shorter.  But hopefully the pictures make up for it.  I'm still happy.  I know I always say that but I really do mean it!  It's so cool to feel just a teeny bit of the love Heavenly Father has for His children.  Sometimes I'm so focused on how much He loves everyone in Guatemala, I forget that He feels the same way about me.  It's just such a powerful thing to think about.  I just wish everyone could feel just for a second how much He loves us. It changes lives.  I'm so blessed and can see the miracles every single day!  Thanks for all your prayers!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Grandma's Love is Never Ending

It's been another great week!  Tomorrow I will be done with my first change (my first 6 weeks) out in the field.  Which means I've been gone 3 months!  Which means I'm halfway done with my in field training!  I don't know about you guys but this has FLOWN by for me.  Ah!  Crazy.  I'm still loving it!  I am really really blessed because there haven't been any days that I don't enjoy.
So I think I need to have a segment of my letter each week for funny tee shirts here.  Everyone buys their clothes from this place with a ton of donated clothes from the states.  And because of this a lot of people have English sayings or American things on their shirts.  And they have no clue what it means.  I've seen quite a few 'Seniors!' shirts from people's last year in high school.  Which wouldn't be as weird if it wasn't on an old man in Guatemala!  And one teenage member always wears a shirt that says 'Come at me bro!'  And favorite so far.  We were talking to a youngish mom aged woman and it was so hard to keep a straight face because she had a sweater with hearts that said 'Grandma's Love is Never Ending'.  It always gives us a good laugh to see all these random shirts.  I should start collecting them.

We found a lot of really pilas people this week! (Pilas in spanish means battery, or hard worker, or baptism font.  So when we find someone who is 'tan pilas' it means we found some one who is SO ready to learn about the gospel. And if a missionary is pilas they're hard workers.  Fun fact.) But we found a few people who came to church this Sunday and are really excited to learn the gospel.  
We also started teaching this woman in English!  It's the weirdest thing ever.  My Spanish is still terrible, but I'm to the point where I have to think about how to put sentences together in English, especially when I talk about church stuff.  I contacted someone in English once and it went like this... 'Hola..Hello..Hi.  How are you?  I'm Hermana Haymond.  We're......missionaries.....from....The Church los..of Latter Day Saints.  We...compart...we share a message....of Jesus Christ and how....God has called un profeta...a prophet.  Can we pass by your share con....with you?'  I really cant speak anything at this point.  I can notice a huge difference in my Spanish though.  I can understand almost everything people say to me if I'm expecting them to talk to me.  If a random person comes up to me and starts talking when my brain isn't quite ready it's a little rough.  But I can almost always get the gist of it.  And I can express myself a lot better now.  It's not just the same kind of sentences over and over.  It's getting closer to what I'd actually want to say in English.  So that's kinda cool! I love Spanish!
I feel bad because there isn't anything super eventful to write about.  I'll try to write interesting things down as I go this week.  But thanks for all the support.  It's always fun to hear about home and see pictures and stuff!  I just want to bring everyone back here someday because pictures and letters just don't do anything justice!  At least once a day I have a moment when I think, whoa I'm living in Guatemala.  It's really awesome.  It's so so different in so many ways.  But I really am happy!  It's such a privilege to have this calling.  I love where I am.  I love what I do.  I love the people.  And I love this Gospel more than anything.  It's indescribable seeing how it clicks with people and how it blesses people lives and lights up their personality.  Ah.  I'm so blessed.  I will never live up to the calling I have as a representative of Jesus Christ, but I am trying to get closer every day.  I know this Church is the only true church on the earth.  There is nothing else that could bring me so much joy when we're walking miles everyday in the rain, teaching stubborn people, waking up at 5:30, being sick all the time.  It's all worth the message we share.

Love you all!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Operation Wedding...Complete

This week was so stressful and so great all in one.

First of all we had divisions last week.  Which was good!  I think Hna G and I did a good job of knowing what to do and such.  We had 2 important things to get done.  1, get the birth certificate from the lady getting married to give to the lawyer (weddings are really complicated here.  you have to get lawyers involved and its just chaos.) and 2, set a firm for sure baptism date with one of our investigators.  So we called this investigator to confirm our appointment.  He answered and said no no, the next week (which in Spanish usually means never).  It was sooo unlike him!  Usually he wears his nicest clothes to our appointments and is always on time with our plans.  But no!  He wasn't even in his house or anything.  So we were like great, one thing on the to do list FAILED.  Later we went to pick up the birth certificate and she didn't have it!  The lawyer needed it as soon as possible and she hadn't even picked it up from this legalish place in the city.  To do list task number two...FAILED.  It was awful.  And of course all this happened when our trainer was gone and we were on division with the training sister.  It all turned out okay.  We finally got a hold of our investigator and he's still interested, and we got the birth certificate.  But it was just stressful in the moment.

We also had zone conference on Thursday.  It was really good!  It was our zone and one other meeting together in the Capital for training with the president.  It's always really inspiring to see how other missionaries approach things.  And President and his wife always have so much love for us.  They always have great things to say to motivate us and help us better ourselves.

Saturday was insane.  The morning was packed with studies, primary program practice, and lunch.  At 1 we went to set up for the wedding.  It was outside of our chapel where there are really pretty flowers and a grassy area.  It's the perfect spot!  So we set up chairs for 70 people, tied flowers to decorate all over, got little tables ready for food and such.  The ceremony was supposed to start at 2.  1:59 we had everything ready looking beautiful.  At 2 on the dot (the bells from the church down the street were ringing right when this happened.  It was literally on the dot)  it poured rain.  Good ol' hard, pouring Guatemala rain.  So we spent another 30 mins moving everything into the chapel, which was not nearly as pretty!  Luckily Guatemalans have a totally different sense of time and no one (no even the bride and groom) showed up until 2:45 or so. Finally we got started around 3:30.  It was so nice to see them get married!  Their family is so cute!  I have some cute pictures that I need to figure out a way to send.  But it was sooo stressful.  Oh and don't worry.  Their dog followed them to the wedding too.  So there's my dog story for the week.

Sunday was also a little stressful, but also really amazing.  They had the primary program.  All the little kids sang and shared their little parts and scriptures.  It was just as cute and hilarious and incredible as the ones back home.  Ah!  The kids here are so cute!

Then we had the baptism and confirmation of the couple who got married.  It was so amazing.  The wife has such a strong testimony!  She knows so much and was so happy to be taking this step.  She really understands the importance of it and has sacrificed so much to get to that point.  They were confirmed the same day because their 2 year old daughter broke her elbow and has to get surgery.  They'll be in the hospital for 2 weeks, which is really sad.  They're really scared.  It sounds like the same thing I did to my elbow.  But it's so sweet because they put off the operation until Monday so they could get baptized.  Ah!  the faith of the people here is amazing.

I'm still doing awesome!  I probably had hard days or moment this week, but I really can never remember them because I love what I'm doing.  Heavenly Father knows and loves each of His children.  I see how He blesses and prepares everyone that we come across.  It's so incredible.  And the feeling I get when I see people get baptized is seriously indescribable.   For a few moments I get to feel just a particle of Heavenly Father's love for us, and it is so powerful.  All the contacts that don't want our message, all the doors that don't let us in, all the people who run away from us (yes, it happens), it's all worth it when I see that one person get baptized and confirmed.  After hours and hours and hours of harvesting, the fruits of our labors are sooo worth every second.

Love you all.  thanks for everything!

I have a little more time so here's more.

on Monday for pday we went to this 5 star hotel as a district activity.  It was so cool!  Its basically the ruins of an old chapel that they turned into a hotel.  There are museumy parts and a Guatemalan chocolate shop and cool ruins.  So that was fun.  It was crazy because walking outside in the courtyard it didn't feel like we were in the city anymore.  It was just ruins and green mountains and volcanoes.  It was cool.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Only in Guatemala!

This week was really good!  First of all, I had my first baptism!  Woo!!!  She had been learning about the Church for months now and a lot of her family has recently been baptized.  It was a hard week for her leading up to her baptism.  But she was all smiles right after.  It was so exciting!  It was so amazing to see her doing something so important.  I haven't even known her for that long and I love her so much!  The Spirit was just so strong for me, knowing how precious she is to Heavenly Father.  I'm so excited to help more people feel that same happiness that comes from baptism.
On Sunday, we split up to go gather people to come to church.  So Hna G and Hna H went one way.  And in the mean time I was on divisions with this recent convert.  She's this hilarious old lady and part of her family is investigators and recent converts.  So my job was to stay with her as my companion and help her family get ready for church.  She was so excited and took her job as my companion very seriously.  So everyone was finally ready for church and we were walking to the chapel.  And they quickly realized that their dog (yes, another dog story.  they're everrrrrywhere) is following us to church.  So they yell at it to go home and it starts to turn back.  Then we're sitting in Sacrament meeting and I look under the seat in front of me and there's their dog!  And the stake president is at church this day and there aren't very many people in our branch so there is no sneaky way to fix the situation.  After 3 or 4 times of trying to send this dog home, he finally left.  It was just a funny 'only in Guatemala' moment.

Saturday we're having a wedding for the couple we've been teaching!  We are so excited!  There's a really pretty grassy area at the chapel so we're having it there.  And we're getting tons of flowers and having someone make a cake and everything!  It's going to be great!  It's fun to plan, and even more exciting because this couple is so awesome and has been working for a long time to get married and baptized.

On Wednesday we were asked to help with a practice for the primary program.  Oh my gosh.  It was so so funny!  First of all everyone was super late, like an hour late.   Then this huge swarm of kids come and are running around everywhere!  We finally got to practicing and it was so cute!  They just sing those songs as loud as they can, whether or not they're getting the right notes.  And they all have their little talks and parts to say.  It's adorable!  It was just a funny sight with all these crazy kids and little Guatemalan ladies trying to get everything put together.

Today we have real divisions for the first time.  Each zone has 2 training sisters who go on divisions with each sister companionship and help us be better.  Hna G and I are staying in our area, and the training sister is coming here.  Hna G and I are both new so we're a little nervous.  I don't know the streets and such as well as I should.  And of course there's always the huge obstacle of not knowing Spanish.  But I'm also really excited.  I have a lot to learn and I know the training sister can help me.  I'm also excited to see how she works with the people.  Each missionary has different strong points and explains things a little differently.  So it will be fun to see other approaches to everything.

This week we really saw how the Lord puts people in our path who really need us.  Last Monday we met a lady on the bus and she wanted us to teach her as soon as possible.  So we taught her like 3 times last week.  And she came to church on Sunday and loved it!  We talked with her last night and she and 2 of her kids are preparing to be baptized the 26th.  It's so amazing to think that just over a week ago she didn't know anything about the Church.  And now she knows that it's true!  We also knocked a door of a family that we met on the street.  They were excited to have us.  We started talking and the father just started bawling.  He told us he just felt awful and needed to feel free of all his bad feelings.  We explained how our message could help them.  We've taught them 2 lessons and they are always excited to learn more.  They're really understanding a lot and have been prepared too!  Heavenly Father needs His children back and He is sure helping us help Him accomplish that.

This has been an interesting week with less active members of the Church too.  We had one day where we found a long lost member of the Church in the house of one of our investigators.  We were excited about that and tried to help him want to come back.  Then we knocked on a door of what we thought was a contact from the street.  A teenage boy opened the door and we asked his name.  He said 'Nefi Moroni.'  We were like what the heck.  We found out that he and his mom are members and moved here from the capital a while ago.  They hadn't been to church in years!  But since we met them last week they've come to church, an activity, the baptism, and she's coming with us today to teach some lessons.  She is so so excited to feel wanted in the Church again.  It's so incredible how things come together.  I'm so grateful for miracles we see every day.  I know it's never by chance that we find these people.

Sometimes I have hard moments, but they pass really quickly.  This is just such an amazing experience.  I wish I was so much better at being a missionary, but I know that Heavenly Father is helping us a lot.  I love everything we do.  The Gospel is my favorite part of life and now I get to be surrounded by it all the time and share it with others.  What a privilege!!  Thanks for all your support!
 Love you all!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Third week in the field

I feel like this was a really eventful week but I really can't remember many details.  I'm hoping I'll think of more as I write.  So here it goes...
Sunday was one of our roommates birthdays.  It was so fun!  We had bought a piñata and candy and cute little girl dress up jewelry.  She loved it!  I'm sure it's hard to have your birthday on your mission. It was so fun to see her so happy!  

It's really hard to tell where I'm at with my Spanish.  I can understand some people more than others.  I can usually get the gist of what they're saying.  Speaking is the same way.  Some people stare at me and can clearly not understand me.  Some people just pretend to understand me.  And some people are like, Wow you've only lived here for a few weeks?  Your Spanish is amazing.  So who knows.  I just know Heavenly Father helps people understand me when He really needs them to.

This week we had an interesting experience.  Most of the white people here are interesting.  This is kinda like Boulder but in Guatemala.  It's weird.  But one day we were walking around and I hear this guy yell at us in English asking us what Church we were from.  It always throws me off when I hear English.  So my companions started talking to him a little.  He was a very interesting guy and he explained all his beliefs.  And we tried to explain a little of our message.  He kept insisting that we were wrong.  He said that he had done his research and that Joseph Smith did not fit into his "truth box". He looked at me and was like "I can tell she really wants to say something.  Your parents must really think this is true."  I started crying and he said he felt bad for making me sad.  I just looked at him and told him I wasn't crying because I was sad.  I was crying because I knew our message was true.  I told him that I was so happy he had such strong faith in Christ, but this is the truth.  I told him that I prayed to know Joseph Smith was a prophet and I received a very clear answer from God that I cannot deny.  He still insisted we were wrong.  I didn't expect him to change his mind right in that moment, but I know he will never forget what I said.  I just wish so bad he could taste for a moment how happy this message could make him.  The things he believes are so good and so close to the truth.  But the few things he couldn't accept are where some really awesome blessings are found.  It broke my heart to walk away from him knowing he didn't want to know the truth.

General Conference was so awesome!  We got to watch it in English!  It was kinda funny because most the time the only place we could watch it in English was the tiny clerks office.  But it was fun!  We bought some snacks and it was a really awesome weekend.  I learned so much!  Maybe it's just because I'm here on my mission, but I felt like there were a lot of good thoughts about missionary work.  It really makes me wish that I had been better at sharing the Gospel back home.  You'd be surprised at how many people are prepared to hear this message and how much people can change!  There are some really awesome scriptures about how our testimonies are prepared to share with others.  So share your testimonies!  It's not as hard as you think.  The second you get scared just imagine trying to yell your testimony to a bus in Spanish.  See!  Missionary work is easy when you're not a missionary!

General Conference was great for every one, including our investigators.  We have a couple who is waiting to get married this month and will get baptized the day after.  The wife has a strong testimony and is trying so hard to do what is right and get baptized.  We went to their house Saturday night and something was wrong.  We pulled her aside and she said she didn't know if she should get married or not.  They have 5 kids and she wants them to have a father but they just weren't getting along.  So we promised her that she'd get an answer in conference.  Sunday night we went back and had family home evening with them and asked how they felt about their wedding and baptism.  She said conference helped her know that Satan is attacking her family and she wants to return to Heavenly Father with her kids and married to her husband.  It was so powerful and awesome to see her finally know what to do. We asked him what he thought and he said that when he heard President Monson talk about how much he loves his wife, he knew marriage was the right thing.  It doesn't sound like a cool experience in this email but it really was amazing.  It was cool to feel how strong their testimonies were and how strongly they desired to do what's right.  Families are so important and I'm glad they realize that.  We're so excited for them!  Their family is beautiful!

I feel like this email wasn't as exciting as usual. I wish so bad I could put all this into words.  But I really can't even come close to describing anything.  This is so amazing.  I'm always learning.  I'm always happy.  You can't not be happy when you get to share this message for hours every day.  
Thanks for everything!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Second week in the field

Okay.  I never know how to describe all this because everyday is such an adventure!

First of all a few things about our house that I forgot to mention last week.  We live with another companionship.  So there are 5 hermanas in our house in total.  It's fun!  4 of us are gringas. And for the first time in 10 plus years I sleep on the top bunk.  And this top bunk doesn't have a ladder or anything to keep you from falling.  So I sleep really really close to the wall because I'm afraid I'll roll off and die one night.  The first few nights I'd even wake up in the middle of the night and stick my arm towards the edge to make sure I had enough room.  I literally pray every night that I won't fall off.  I've been okay so far but it's still scary!

I've had a few health adventures this week.  So Friday morning I wake up and I cannot open my left eye.  I was like ohhhh great, this is not good, I know this feeling.  So I go into the bathroom and it's swollen shut!  Sooo gross! I can't even explain how disgusting I looked.  You know in the movie Hitch when he eats that stuff and his whole face puffs up?  Yeah imagine that happening to one of my eyes. eye.  So I just looked ridiculous all day!  It almost looks normal now which is a miracle!  But it was so bad the other day.  I was just like, if anyone shows interest in our message today, they will really really need the Gospel or something because I look ridiculous. I felt fine but it was just a funny little surprise.

Friday morning we also went to help this family we're teaching get their firewood (or lena).  We always see people carrying huge bundles of wood on their heads so we wanted to go help!  It adventure (there really are no words to describe these things besides adventure).  They take us to this barbwire fence in these bushes with a hole in it.  And we asked them "Is this illegal?" They said no, people just judge you.  So we went on our merry way through this little hole in barb wire fence in our skirts.  I made it through okay...or so I thought.  All of a sudden I feel my elbow burning so bad!  And the family is like "Oh did it get you? did it get you?"  Apparently I rubbed up against the bush and it happened to be poisonous.  So I was like shoot, okay.  I didn't think much of it.  But then they were looking at my elbow and asked "Does it hurt right here yet?" pointing to their chest where your heart is.  Then I was like What. The. Heck.  I am going to DIE! They said I wouldn't die but I was still skeptical.  A few mins later my armpit started hurting like the pain had traveled up my arm.  Thankfully after 30 mins it all went away.  But I was convinced that I was going to die. get the lena you basically sneak into a finca (a coffee farm) and take all the fallen sticks.  It was the craziest place.  Every little bug they were like" ooo dont touch that it'll kill you"   It was so weird because outside of the finca there's nothing like that!  There were like animal bones and all kinds of weird stuff.  So they got all the wood and bundled it together and carried it on their heads like no big deal.  We tried it and it was sooo surprisingly heavy.  Our neck muscles are not used to that kind of stuff.  It was so fun to try though.  Anyway, that's my lena adventure.

There are a TON of dogs here.  It's insane. We were walking down this little street and there was this crazy dog that ALMOST bit me.  It's crazy that he missed my leg.  I have a hole in my skirt and you can tell it would have been bad!  But it's okay.  It's almost like a war wound on my skirt.  Dogs here are crazy.  We came out of Sunday School at church and there was a dog just sitting outside of the room we do sacrament meeting in.  It was the weirdest thing.  We have no idea where it came from but it just sat there and no one did anything about it.

Our companionship is the greatest!  My trainer is amazing.  We've had some fun practices lately.  For example.  Yesterday she made us stand like 30 yards away and we had to practice contacting a bus while she yelled distractions at us.  It was a really realistic practice because when you're contacting a bus there is a lot going on and you have to yell over all of it.  And this morning we practiced writing people's information while one the bus.  Because the buses are really shaky and crowded.  So we sat on our seats and wrote down addresses while she shook us vigorously and bumped into us.  It's hilarious!  But very practical skills at the same time.

I'm so excited for General Conference!  It gives our investigators and recent converts 5 different chances to "go to church".  And of course I'm so so excited to listen to the talks!  We get to listen in English.  Woo!  Its so so crazy to think that one year ago I couldn't have gone on a mission now.  Conference marks 1 year since everything changed! And now here I am in Guatemala!  Soo crazy!

Well I think that's all I have time for.  I'm having fun and working hard.  Its not easy at all.  But I'm happy.  Every little trial that comes up is just another part of the adventure.  I'm always learning a lot from my challenges.  But I am so blessed to be here!  I know that people here have been prepared for this message.  They are so wonderful. I wish I was more adequate to help them come unto Christ.  But I know that I'm trying and I can feel Heavenly Father making up for my weaknesses.  Thanks so much for all your support and prayers.  I need it!  
Love you all!

Jenn writing now- Alexis is unable to send us pictures off her camera but her trainer has some pictures on her blog and her mom let me have a copy for Alexis' blog!
 Gathering lena

Walking to district meeting in Antigua

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

First Week in the Field!

Ahh!  So much to write.  It's been so long.  So this has been such an adventure already.  Hopefully this letter will have some organization.  But here it goes...

I'm in a trio with two other gringas.  One was in the ccm with me and the other has been out since January I think.  They're both awesome.  Our trainer is amazing!!!!  She is so happy and encouraging but at the same time she pushes us to do scary things.

Every day we wake up at 5 or 5:30, exercise, get ready for the day.  Then have 1 hour of personal study and 2 hours of companionship study and 1 hour of language study.  Then it's off to work!  We work until 9 with an hour for lunch.  We have a few ladies in the branch who cook for us.  We contact people (and whole buses), teach lessons, visit recent converts and inactives until 9.  Then 9 to 9:30 we have planning.  9:30 to 10:30 eat dinner and get ready for bed.  10:30 sleep!  

SO far all the food has been good!  Nothing too crazy.  But at the same time, keep in mind we can't eat with members.

Our house is one of the nicest Ive seen here.  It feels pretty normal for the most part.  But we shower with a bucket.  It's quite an adventure!!  I'm really fine with it actually.  It just kinda makes me laugh.  I just think, I'm in Guatemala right now showering with nothing but a bucket!  Who wouldda thought!  Ah!! Its awesome!  We can see 3 volcanoes from our house.  2 of them are water volcanoes I think.  But its really interesting.  Its a pretty view!

We have quite a few investigators right now.  Some progressing more than others.  I don't know any of them super well yet.  But I always get so excited to teach them because I already love them so much!  We have one who will be baptized after he comes to church 2 more times.  I've challenged 2 people to be baptized and they should both get baptized next month.  These people are so ready to hear the gospel!  They have such strong faith!  And it's amazing how willing they are to give us their addresses.  I feel like that would never happen in America. We have to contact 35 people everyday (which means you go up to a stranger and in Spanish say something like 'Hi we're missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints and we have a message about Jesus Christ.  We know that God has called a prophet today.  Can I get your address to share this message with you?).  10 of the 35 have to be families.  I'm sure they can't hardly understand me but they seem to get it.  I just try to smile as much as I can so they know that this message makes me happy.  I like contacting people. I'm not too afraid.  Ive come to accept that I probably sound and look like a fool.  I know I make mistakes but I just keep trying and trying.  I also really like contacting buses, which is where you stand at the front of the bus and yell (all this is in Spanish remember...) our message to the whole bus.  Then we squeeze through everyone and ask for their addresses to share the gospel with them.  Its so fun just yelling your testimony of Jesus Christ in a language you don't even know.  I just smile so big because it's so fun to try!

People say that my Spanish is really good.  I honestly know that it's not my words, it's the Spirit making everything clear to them.  I know for a fact my grammar and vocab and accent is awful.  But I'm trying and it's becoming more natural.  I can say a lot more than I ever expected.  I'm starting to understand a little more, some people better than others. Sometimes when I'm contacting or teaching I can really understand them very clearly.  This is when I know they're ready to hear our message.  The Spirit is so strong because this person needs the truth in their lives and Heavenly Father is even helping me understand Spanish to bring His children back.

President Brough (our mission president) is awesome.  He always tells us newbies that we need to suffer,  so we can work hard with all our might.  Sometimes I feel guilty that I'm not suffering enough, because I'm honestly so happy!  But looking back, it hasn't been easy at all!  The first day my toenails were bleeding because we walked so fast and so long.  I have shin splints too I think.  And I shower in a bucket.  And I can't speak the language.  And I'm away from my family and friends.  I look like a crazy person and I probably smell because I don't know how to shower with a bucket.  It pours crazzzzzy rain every day.  People reject our message and think I'm insane.  People laugh at my Spanish.  It's HARD!  But I don't even ever realize that I'm suffering because I am honestly so so happy to be here.  I don't even notice any of these things.  Everything is so awesome.  I get to be a representative of Jesus Christ.  I get to share my testimony with dozens of people every day.  I get to feel the Spirit so strong.  I get to have all these wonderful difficulties to help me grow.  It probably sounds sarcastic, but I really do mean it.  I LOVE that this work is hard.  None of these little inconveniences can get in the way of how happy I am to be a missionary.  I seriously can't help but smile all the time.  I know that this gospel blesses everyone.  I can see how it clicks with people's Spirits.  I'm so thankful to be here and be having these hard things so I can grow.  I know that Heavenly Father loves every one of these people so much and he wants them to return to Him.  I'm doing my best to help just a little.

Love you all!!

A sister in the area where Alexis is serving sent me this picture

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I survived an earthquake!!

So I have dubbed this CCM the Adventure CCM.  There is always some kind of new element of adventure every single day.  So the other day we were sitting in class (Which is now in the outdoor workout room because there are so many missionaries)  and the ground starts moving back and forth!  Yes...AN EARTHQUAKE! And we were all so excited!  It was the craziest feeling.  Kinda like being on an earth sized water bed.  It was cool but afterwards our teacher was like 'Yeah that was just a small one, those kind happen all the time.'  But later we found out that it was bigger than we thought!  Apparently all the missionaries who get to have real classrooms inside the CCM had to evacuate!  And President told them it was a 4 on the richter scale (still not HUGE) but it could be felt through the whole country.  Since we have class out the back of the building we just went on with life like normal thinking this was just a typical thing that you just live with here.  But no!  In the mean time, the other missionaries were evacuating...WHAT! We all had to be ready to evacuate in the middle of the night in case there was an after shock.  It was so fun though!  I would say I wish another one would happen just for fun, but I'm sure that's not a good thing to wish for. So now I keep thinking there's another earthquake happening.  It's like those phantom cell phone vibrations.  Since I don't have a phone, I now have phantom earthquake vibrations. Sometimes the adventure is that the power goes out or the water goes out or there's a ton of rain or the schedule gets changed at the last minute, but this was by far the biggest adventure yet.
So Wal-Mart.  Weird experience.  We went to Wal-Mart and to a mall and it was bizarre because the stores were like we were in America.  But I knew we weren't!  It was hard to wrap my brain around.  But at Wal-mart I got a jacket (I got a large and it's still short on me.  The people here are teeny.), extra tooth brushes, mouthwash, little journals, pens, and slippers (wonderful idea.  Maybe the best purchase I've made in my life.).  So that was fun!  Then we went to the food court at the mall.  I got Pizza Hut and frozen yogurt.  They had Wendy's, McDonald's, all the normal fast food places you'd see in America.  And it was funny because they had like knock off American stores.  They had a store  called XIV Fashion and the logo and the store looked just like Forever 21.  But it wasn't!  It was pretty funny.  The people were so nice and patient with my Spanish.  It's fun to try to talk to them and we get so excited when they finally decipher our charades/Spanish.
The other day we were talking about Christmas traditions and I told everyone how we crawl down the hall to our presents.  I explained it like a normal tradition because it feels normal to me, but they all freaked out!  They thought it was sooo cool.  I explained how when you're all crawling into the room you experience Christmas magic at a magical perfect rate.  Now all the girls in my district are going to start that in their families.  We're trend setters.
Today we're going to the temple for the last time.  Which is sad because I doubt I'll be able to go again until after I get home!  Its been funny walking to the temple the last few time because it has been POURING RAIN!  We literally had raincoats, rain boots, and umbrellas and we're still soaked when we get there.  All the temple workers help us take off our giant boots and they go around asking if they can put our wet clothes in the dryers.  Its so cute!  Yet another reason why this is the adventure CCM.  You can't walk a block to the temple without drowning.
Before I forget, I don't know when I'll be able to write next because I leave the CCM on Tuesday (WOOOOO!).  But I don't know when my p-day will be in the field. I also don't think I'll get Dear Elders as much as I have here in the CCM.  But I don't know for sure.   It's so crazy that I leave next week.  I'm so excited.  I still love the CCM with all my heart.  But I am just soooo excited to talk to real people.  My Spanish is decent.  I can go a whole day without speaking English and get my point across okay.  But I'm sure it will be way harder in the real world.  I'm just so excited to get thrown into it!  Its going to be crazy and hard and way too much to handle, but I am so stoked.  8 of the 12 of us in our district are going to immigrations tomorrow to do some visa stuff.  Exciting!
I think dad asked about this.  But yes, Sept 15th is Independence Day here.  They don't light off fireworks or anything.  Mostly just put out a ton of flags.
So in the mornings we have class in a capilla (chapel) down the street by the temple.  And on Saturday there was a North American family (who we found out was the Bishop and his family) getting ready to clean the church.  So 3 districts helped out. It was so fun!  A church has never been cleaned so fast before.  There were missionaries everywhere!  It was so fun!
We started this game as a district where everyone has 12 straws.  And if you hear someone speaking English you say 'pajilla' (straw) and they have to give you a straw.  Who ever has the most by Monday gets a prize from our teacher, Hna Palacios.  Its been fun and I am so proud of how much Spanish we can speak.  We can go a whole day pretty easy now.  But I love Hermana Palacios.  She teaches us in the morning.  She's adorable.  She always has funny games for us to play.  The other day we played musical chairs to We Thank Thee O God For A Prophet, which was funny.  When you got out you had to answer a question in Spanish.  The Elders would almost sit on a Hermana to try to get a chair but then they'd back away all afraid to touch us.  It was hilarious. And yesterday we played Noah's Ark where you make animal noises and find your partner.  It wasn't as epic as at our house but it was so funny!
 Last night we had a devotional and Elder Duncan (a member of the area presidency) came and spoke.  It was really good.  Hna. Griffin accompanied a musical number and I turned the pages for her.  My musical talents are really growing here.  But Elder Duncan focused on working with less active members.  He shared a lot of stories and it was really powerful.  He said that every nonmember in this world is actually a less active who hasn't been baptized yet.  Everyone knew the gospel and accepted Christ before this life, we just have to help them feel that again.  So that was cool.  We had our last district testimony meeting after.  It was amazing.  I love my district sooo much.  There's like a club or something right next to our class in the gym so all during testimony meeting there was this obnoxious music!  But their testimonies were so amazing that that Spirit was still soooo strong.  It didn't matter where we were or what was going on outside.  You could tell that they were testimonies of representatives of Jesus Christ.  It's such an incredible feeling.  I know how  this gospel has helped me in my life, and I just hope so badly that somehow with all my inadequacies and awful Spanish that I will be able to portray this strong Spirit and help the people here experience the joy that I experience every day.  I know I'm supposed to be here.  I'm so happy! I love it.
Thanks for all your support and letters and prayers.  Love you all!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Soy una vieja


 I hope everyone is doing well!  We're emailing on Monday again because we have another field trip tomorrow!  We're going  somewhere every  exotic and foreign....WALMART!  So excited.  We were thinking of things we need to get at Walmart and it was like putting together a Christmas list.  You can tell we've been out of the country for over a month because we were way too excited to be wanting things like pens, and peanut butter, and jackets.  It will be an adventure!!! Probably just like the mercado (;

 Mom, Dad, Aunt Jen, Grandma and Grandpa Haymond...Thanks again for the Dear Elders!  Its always so fun to get them!  Sorry if it seems like I'm a little off answering questions that you write me.  I get Dear Elders a few hours AFTER I write my email, so it basically takes a week plus for me to get around to responding to anything.  But I'll answer a few questions from the Dear Elders I got last week.  So yes, my companion is going to Guatemala City Central mission also.  Our whole district (12 people, 8 hermanas, 4 Elderes) are going to my mission.  And I think about half our zone (so like....20 people probably) are going there too!  SO Guatemala City Central better be getting ready because they're about to get the best wave of missionaries ever!  We haven't had anyone come speak to us live for a devotional, which is really sad.  Every other weekish we get to watch a broadcast of an Apostle speaking at the MTC in Provo, which is way cool!  But not the same.  Its okay though.  We're small so I understand.  (They should come anyway though.)  The weather here is awesome.  It's rainy season until November so it randomly starts DOWNPOURING randomly throughout the day.  I thought rainy season would mean crazy continuous rain throughout the day, but it's only for a few hours at most.  But when its not rainy its super sunny!  Its just right.  Not too hot.  And I think we're at high enough elevation that I can't really tell that it's humid.  It's definitely not Colorado dry, but it's not humid enough to bother me which says a lot. But it is humid enough that your towel doesn't dry over night and wrinkles come out of clothes a little easier and my nails grow faster.  I don't get the monthly newsletter from my mission president.  It sounds interesting!!! Our Spanish fasts are awesome.  We have 3 this week, so only Spanish like every other day.  I love them!  Its so nice to prove to myself that yes, I can survive a day using only (poor) Spanish. That's cool that Brother Rockwood was here!  The world is so so small when you're a missionary.  Everyone knows everyone in one way or another.  The food is still amazing!  We keep saying that Carlos (The head cook guy) needs to open a restaurant in our mission, then one in America in 18 months.  It's so great.   We are so spoiled.  We're going to die without Carlos after we leave.  For the showering situation, Hna Griffin and I are spoiled.  Over half of the rooms have to share a community bathroom and walk down the hall to shower.  But our room has our own shower.  So its way nice!  And yes, I LOVE my mission.  Its amazing.  I LOVE the CCM still!  It is a lot of the same stuff everyday, but I'm not sick of it yet.  Its harder for some people I think, but I'm still loving it.  But every time I look out at all the cars  or walk past real live non-missionary people outside the CCM, I get SOOOO excited to go talk to people about the Gospel.  The people here are amazing.  I love them so much just from seeing them for the few moments that I have.  So I guess in that sense, I'm anxious to leave the CCM.  But I'm happy here for now.  Sorry if that sounded totally disorganized.  I just wanted to go through and answer everyone's Dear Elder questions.

 So, this week went by way fast.  Yesterday I was like holy cow, we're writing home again already.  It doesn't feel like much has happened!  I keep a running list of things to write about during the week so I don't forget (and it works as an outline for my email.  The emailing time goes by way fast, so its impossible without an outline.  Emailing is hands down one of the most stressful times of the week because there's so much to say and read and so little time.  Anyway....) but this week there's hardly anything on my list. 

 I forgot to say last time that stuff is sooooo cheap here!  It doesn't sound cheap because 8 quetzales = 1 dollar.  So something that's 200 quetz is actually only 25 dollars.  It throws my brain off big time.  But for example, I bought a mini Spanish preach my gospel from the distribution center for like...less than a dollar.  Maybe a dollar.  SO cheap.  And scarves at the mercado were like 5 dollars (and they probably even marked their prices up because we're gringos).  Its crazy how cheap everything is. 

 On P-days there are vendors that come up to the gate of the CCM and set up shop.  Its a really funny sight because you have all these missionaries reaching through the fence exchanging money and getting all kinds of goods.  They're members and they have all kinds of cool stuff.  Last week I ordered a scripture case. They make leather ones and will draw different churchy pictures on them.  I ordered one for my English scriptures with a picture of Jesus holding a lamb on the front and on the back a picture of this stone artifact they found here with the tree of life vision. I'm so excited to get them soon!!  They have a lot of other cool stuff too but they live in our mission and said they come to the mission office during transfers so we can buy stuff.

 I'm still sick.  Better than I was, but still a tad sick.  This week was the worst of my cold.  My lungs were so clogged with mucusy nastiness and they were hurting. I just did not feel good at all.  A girl in our district is a nurse so I had her listen to my lungs (mostly just for fun.  I figured there was nothing crazy wrong with me anyway).  The girls in my district are so fun, so of course this turned into a huge stethoscope fiesta.  We literally listened to each others lungs and bowel sounds for an hour.  We can make anything a fiesta.  That's how awesome the people in my district are.

 Spanish is going good.  Like I said, it helps a ton when I'm forced to speak it.  Its still FAR from perfect but I can say what I want in one form or another for the most part.  You learn a lot being around it all the time.  Its not like school where there's a vocab list.  You listen and figure words out by the way other people use them.  Then you just start using them yourself.  Its super interesting and feels way more natural than learning for 1 hour a day in school.  It makes me excited to study dual language immersion stuff.  This is definitely the way to do it.  It helps that I'm learning as a missionary too, of course.  I can tell that Heavenly Father is helping me.  And I just have to remind myself that if He needed me to be fluent right now, He would make it happen.  Awful Spanglish plus the Spirit is better than perfect Spanish any day.

 Also, I heard that my cougars lost their first game!  Not okay.  Luckily the MTC Presidents wife is a huge fan, so she told us about it.  But keep me updated too!

 Tomorrow all the nortes who have been here longer than us leave.  Which means we're going to be the viejos (aka the oldies).  Which is so weird because they seemed so much more experienced than us.  And now we're them!  it went by so fast.  I cant believe that I'll be out in el campo (the field. aka my mission. aka free from the CCM actually doing real missionary things) in about 2 weeks!! Its awesome.

 We've started teaching 'new investigators'.  We've been teaching our 2  teachers.  But now all the missionaries in our zone (so all the soon to be viejos) pick a profile of a nonmember friend or family member and act like them.  We teach one on one.  So one missionary acts like an investigator then we switch.  Its been really interesting because I think, okay if this missionary were teaching my friend I would want her to put everything shes got into this.  So it helps me put my best into my lessons.   Teach everyone like you would your own loved ones.  Which will be easier out in the field, but its a hard mindset to have when you're teaching other missionaries or teachers.

 Well...I'm sure I'll think of a novel worth of stuff to write the second I run out of email time.  But this is all for now!   I love this work and I'm so happy to be here!

 Love Hermana Haymond!

 **Lo siento for the awful punctuation and spelling on all these emails.  I'm an awful speller to begin with.  And my English as a whole is suffering big time right now.  I was rereading my journal the other night and one entry said 'I'm excited to write home tomorrow.  I really need to oahn to my family.'  I have no idea what oahn means in Spanish or English.  So basically my ability to speak or spell in any language is just not happening.  So sorry!  That's my disclaimer.

***Alexis' mom here writing now- I always go through and spell check her emails because I can tell her learning Spanish and typing on a Spanish key board are throwing her English off!  Although when she wrote about listening to everyone's "lungs and bowels" she wrote "bowls" so I am guessing she meant bowels but that seems funny so I am not sure what she meant there.