Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Other Freeport Stories

Story #1 

One of the inactive members of the branch invited us over for dinner for her husband's birthday.  The drink they gave us was carbonated and a light pink color - I just thought it was soda.  Then I tasted it and it didn't taste familiar, so I thought it was just some kind of weird soda.  Apparently my companion was trying to catch my eye across the table because she knew what it really was after just one sip, but I wasn't paying attention.  Later she looked at the bottle that the drink came from and when we left she informed me that the drink contained 0.6% alcohol!  It didn't affect me physically at all, but I felt awful for drinking it, even though I didn't know what it was.  I was/still am kind of naive, so I had no clue what alcohol tasted or smelled or looked like.  Even though it wasn't something I did intentionally, I still felt so bad for the next couple of days.

Story #2

My first Sunday in the area I was asked to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting.  Not unusual when you're a missionary.  However, it was my first time doing this sort of thing since it was my first area, and I was feeling a little worn out and discouraged that day.  So I start talking and then I start crying and after I sat down I continued crying and didn't stop for the rest of the meeting!  I don't know why I couldn't control myself.  I think it had just hit me that I was on a mission and what the heck was I doing there!  Sister Gines had 3 tissues and I used them all up before I was done.  One of the sweet little girls went and got me a cup of water and after the meeting all the hermanas surrounded me and said how glad they were that I was there and were all trying to speak English to make me feel better, etc.  It was really nice and that really started my love for that branch.  Also, that night at our dinner appointment (we went to the same house every Sunday) Hermana Nerio made the best pork chops and mashed potatoes (not an easy task when mashed potatoes aren't a part of your culture).  She told Sister Gines that she wanted to make the meal to make the new missionary (me) feel more at home.  She was such a sweet lady!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Miscellaneous/Interesting Things

The sisters we lived with were Sister Ferrin and Sister Goff.  They were English speaking and they actually lived more or less in their area (unlike us - we had to drive 20 minutes to our area every day).  We did a few fun things at night or on p-days.  Sister Goff hit her halfway mark and her mom somehow ordered pizza from a pizza place (Domino's?) that was nearby.  The pizzas were all half one topping and half something else.

Sometimes we would make breakfast together.  Sister Goff would put coffee creamer in the french toast batter and it was really good.

On New Year's Eve the missionaries had to be in their apartments by 5:30-ish.  So we had a little party with some chocolate pie I made.

Sister Goff got transferred after my first transfer and Sister Zufelt took her place.  Here she is with me and Sister Ferrin modeling some scarves my grandma made for Christmas.

There were so many cute little kids in the branch or at the homes we would visit.  It was so hard to obey the rule of not holding babies or children while I was on my mission.  So sometimes we just had to play with them or take a cute picture.

And sometimes they would just jump on my back, so I rolled with it.  (He really did just jump on my back.  I couldn't do anything I promise!)  That crazy Ronaldo.  He was hilarious.

This is some kind of weird church or something.  It was the craziest looking thing I've ever seen.  The picture really doesn't do it justice.  From what I remember there was all kinds of false doctrine written everywhere.  We knocked on the door to see what it was, but nobody opened it.

At some point in her mission, Sister Gines made friends with a lady named Cristina.  Cristina absolutely loved Sister Gines and one day she came from wherever she was from and took us out to lunch, bought us stuff at the grocery store, and then gave Sister Gines a card (which she later opened and there was money inside).  Cristina wasn't a member of the Church and didn't plan on becoming one, but she was one of the most generous people I have ever met.

Our District and Zone

Our district leader was Elder Hardy and his companion was Elder Davis.  Elder Davis was actually called as an English missionary but was switched to Spanish for a couple of transfers.  It was really hard for him because he didn't know any Spanish at all and he had kind of a hick accent, but he was super cool.  Elder Hardy was a good DL and we had a lot of fun in our district.  At one of our meetings we played Jeopardy and I ended up getting two song questions, and had to sing Book of Mormon Stories and I'm a Little Teapot (the second one without laughing - I didn't make it).

Our zone leaders were Elder Harnos and Elder Phillips.  There was one elder from my MTC district in this zone, Elder Marsh.  He's the tall one in the middle of the back row.

We had zone conference every transfer.  Usually the zones from each area of the mission (Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island) would meet together - I think there were usually about 3 zones in each area.  This picture was from my first zone conference and we actually combined with Brooklyn for this one.  All the sisters there got together for a picture.  The one on the far left is Sister Morrow, our mission president's wife.  Two of my future companions are also in this picture: Sister Allred and Sister Ivanova.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Trainer

My trainer and companion was Christy Gines, from Highland, UT.  To this day I am convinced that she is the only sister who could have trained me with the love and patience that she had.  Not that I was difficult (I hope), but like I mentioned before I had a hard time with homesickness sometimes, it was really hard for me to talk to people, and just adjusting to mission life in general was a little rough.  If I had to describe her in a few words they would be patient, loving, forgiving, fun, happy, and outgoing.  She loved the people, she loved me, she loved the other sisters in our pad, and she loved the Savior.  Her Spanish may not have been perfect, but people didn't care because they liked her.

Sister Gines always looked for ways to serve other people.  One time we came out of an apartment building that we were tracting and she noticed a lady across the street raking her leaves.  A pretty everyday thing to see.  She ran right over and took the rake from her and started raking.  Another time we saw some people we had tried to teach a time or two walking home carrying groceries, so we went and helped them carry them home.  She would always look for little ways to serve every day and was a great example.

Friday, July 8, 2011


My first Christmas away from home - it was a little rough for me.  Not because a bunch of hard things happened around that time, but because I had a tendency to get homesick sometimes, especially in the beginning.  However, it was also a great Christmas thanks to my companion, our branch, and the fun mission conference.

We helped decorate the church for the branch Christmas party.  Parties with the Latinos were always so fun.  I don't know if it was irreverent or not, but they would always play super loud music (in the church) during the parties and have a great time with lots of food, talking, and sometimes dancing.  However, I think this party was a little calmer than normal if I remember right.

The mission Christmas conference was always good.  The whole mission would get together, so it was bigger than just zone conference.  First we had a speaker, Elder Smith our Area Authority, and then a program with a bunch of musical numbers.  After that was lunch, and of course I wrote in my journal what we ate: chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad and dessert.  Oh the mashed potatoes; they were something I definitely missed while serving with the Spanish speaking people, so it was nice to have them one time.  We also did white elephant gifts.  I can't remember what I took, but I ended up with these weird clown hooks that you hang on the wall.

At the end of the conference we took a mission picture, so here we all are:

On Christmas Eve that year we did a lot of tracting and looking up referrals.  In the middle of it all we got a call from a counselor in the branch presidency asking us to speak in church (2 days later).  It was the first talk I was asked to give on my mission and I spent a good portion of Christmas Day writing it.  For dinner on Christmas Eve Hermana Chavez invited us over and fed us tamales and watched the Joy to the World movie. Her "husband" was there the whole time drinking his beer.  She gave us presents (see picture in Investigators/Less Actives section - the one with the funky purses), and sprayed us with a bunch of her perfume.  The rest of the evening we smelled like grandmas.  She was such a funny lady.

Christmas Day I made myself some blueberry muffins and bacon for breakfast.  You have to have something special on Christmas right?  Then we went to the church to call our families which was so nice.  Then, of course, I worked on my talk for the next day.  That night we went caroling with part of our zone in a couple of apartment buildings.  For dinner we stopped at a place that had 3 or 4 fast food places in it.  I had Pizza Hut and Sister Gines had Taco Bell.  Yum :).

P-Day in Freeport

Preparation days in Freeport always started out the same.  The laundromat was right across the street, so at 6:30 we'd wake up, throw on some clothes and walk across the street, start our loads and do scripture study while we waited.  We were usually the only ones there since it was so early.

We'd try to get to the library right when it opened so we could email our families and have the rest of the day to write letters/in our journals, grocery shop, go play and/or take a nap (oh how I love my naps).  In the first picture I'm outside the library trying to get my picture taken with one of New York's famous pigeons, but he wouldn't cooperate.

I'll admit, I loved p-day.  At the end of the day on Sunday I was always so glad that the next day was Monday because I was always so worn out by then!  It was nice to have a day to "recuperate" and rest.