Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Freeport Members

The branch in Freeport struggled a little, but there were some really awesome members who kept it going.

The Chirinos family was wonderful. They were both returned missionaries and did a LOT for the branch. I think they were pretty overwhelmed sometimes, but we loved them for what they did.

There were a lot of really cute kids.  This little girl was soooo cute:

Sometimes we got to help in the Primary:

Their parents went out of town for a couple of weeks and they asked us to help them with their homework because they lady they had babysitting couldn't speak English.  So we just counted it as our service hours for the week.  We had a lot of fun with them.  Ronaldo was really funny and kept trying to climb on me.

Some of the kids at the branch Christmas party:

We helped with the Young Women's Evening of Excellence.  These girls (most of which actually weren't even members) are practicing a song that they sang.

Maira was deaf, so the three of us signed the words of the song.  This is her teaching us the signs.

At the branch Christmas party.  The girl in the red shirt is one of two YW who ever came to church.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Area #1 - Freeport

My first area was Freeport, just east of Queens on Long Island. It was the only car area I was ever in (which is good considering the large quantities of rice and beans we ate). Our apartment was above a 99 cent store (below) and we shared the one bedroom pad (yes, we called them pads) with another companionship. Sister Gines and I slept in the living room (2nd pic).

I'm not a morning person, and exercising early in the morning is even worse. But, we were supposed to do it. And my comp liked to go running. So every morning we would run a couple of blocks to a little park with a pond where I walked and she ran. It was a really cute place and I wish I would have thought to take a picture, but I never did.

Long Island is, well, an island, and Freeport was located on the bottom edge, so it was on the "coast", if you could call it that. There weren't any beaches, but there was a little harbor. One of the members whose daughter we were teaching lived right on it, so one day when we were down there we stopped to take some pictures.

The branch in Freeport was pretty small. I think there were maybe 35-45 people in church every week. Although the work there was hard and not very fruitful, I still look back at it with fond memories. My first Sunday there I was called to come up and bear my testimony (a regular occurrence when a new missionary was transferred into an area), and I think when I was up there it just hit me that I was on a MISSION, and I just started crying and crying. And I kept crying through the whole meeting. I couldn't stop! But everyone was so sweet. One little girl went and got me a drink of water, and after the meeting all the hermanas surrounded me and gave me hugs and said it would be ok and they were so glad I was there, etc. I loved that little branch and was so grateful to serve there.

These are some of the hermanas in the branch. Aren't they sweet?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Leaving for the New York New York South Mission

The day we got our travel plans was so exciting! But kinda scary. It was like knowing when we were going to leave made it so much more real. We left November 15th really early in the morning. I don't remember the time, but I think I woke up at about 2 am. Being tired and nervous don't make a good combination. Yes, I was super nervous.

The flight wasn't long enough for me, but you can't put off the inevitable. We arrived in NY at around 4:00 pm ET and were picked up by our mission president, President Morrow, and the APs. They said we looked like deer in headlights. I'm sure we did. We thought we were going straight to the mission home, but they had other plans for us. The following excerpt is from my journal because when I wrote it it was fresher on my mind so I think I describe it better than I could now:

"When we left the airport we drove to an area in Queens and they basically threw us right in. They call it a "street sweep". We got paired up with other missionaries who had already been there a while and kind of went at it. I watched my "companion" Hna Allred do it for a little while, and then I got on the Soap Box [yes we had a soap box. it was a crate that said "Soap Box"] and street preached about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. In Spanish of course. I actually kind of liked doing that. Then I ended up approaching a couple of people and I would get as far as introducing us and asking if they have ever heard of the church and then I would pull Hna Allred in to do the rest. It was the scariest night of my life! Afterwards it wasn't too bad, but while I was in the moment and doing it, I was terrified"

So that's how we were introduced to our mission. Most zones did street sweeps every Saturday, so that wasn't the last time I would be doing that. After about 1/2 hour of sweeping the streets, we were finally taken to the mission home, where Sister Morrow had a nice dinner waiting for us. Then we had a devotional, welcome to the mission kind of thing and went to bed. I think I had a hard time sleeping that night. Probably because I was super tired and wondering what the heck I was doing there.

The next day was transfer meeting, so after breakfast we left for the mission office to meet our trainers. My trainer was Sister Gines and she was amazing. I really believe she was the only one who could have trained me. She was so patient with me through our 2 transfers together as I tried to overcome homesickness, fear of talking to people, shyness, the list goes on. She was very positive and always looking for ways to help and serve others. She was a great example to me.

This was after transfer meeting, the last time our MTC district would be together. (We saw each other throughout our missions of course, but we were never alltogether again.) Yes, we're all smiling in the picture, but if you look closely you can tell we are all FREAKED OUT.

With President and Sister Morrow.

Fun Stuff

A lot of missionaries didn't like being "stuck" in the MTC and couldn't wait to get out. I actually enjoyed the two months that I was there. We did a lot of fun things.

I was there during Halloween (which was a Sunday, but we "celebrated" on Saturday). Some of the sisters in our dorm building decided to dress up and have a little party with snacks. One of Hermana McKeeth's friends had sent her the glasses that we're wearing, otherwise I don't know what I would have done for a costume. Other sisters were really creative, using nylons and garbage bags. One sister (not in the picture) even used the blankets from the beds to make a sumo wrestler costume.

We had a lot of fun with our district, although the elders could be very very messy. Understandable though, since this was probably the first time being away from home where Mom can't pick up after them. :) We also had fun laughing at the mistakes we would make in Spanish. For example, one day we were practicing teaching each other and Hermana McKeeth and I were teaching some elders in our district and they were teaching us. One of the elders said (when he was practicing making an appointment), "Que dia es mujer" (what day is woman) instead of "Que dia es mejor" (what day is best). The grammar wasn't perfect either, but that one vowel change sure made it have a slightly different meaning.

These were our "grandparents". We met them in the cafeteria one day and the sister started calling us her granddaughters. I can't remember where they were going to serve.