Friday, April 29, 2016

Semana 6 - My last week in the CCM!

Hola!  It  feels like this week flew by!  Friday I was in a trio again while Hermana Nelson went back to Immigration.  It was all good though because while Hermana Keeler and Hermana Christensen taught their lesson I got to pose as the church member.  We sometimes ask other missionaries to pose as members for lessons so they can testify of things or share experiences.  I was Esmeralda, member of 2 years who had previous struggles with quitting smoking for the Palabra de Sabiduria (Word of Wisdom).  It was actually pretty fun!  That afternoon when Hermana Nelson came back we taught Cristian.  He was texting and stuff in the beginning and I nicely but firmly told him we needed his complete attention because the things we were going to teach him were necessary for his salvation.  He put his phone away pretty quickly.  Hermana Pavia, our maestra (teacher), who poses as Cristian for lessons, does stuff like that a lot to just see what we do and how we react.  Our member for that lesson was Elder Wood and when he introduced himself as “Inigo Montoya” I almost started laughing so hard. (Princess Bride reference)  That night for dinner I had Frosted Flakes with Horchata instead of milk and it was amazing.  10/10 I would recommend it. 

On Saturday we got a lesson on how not to unintentially say bad things, for example.  When your teacher says “Hola, Elder Como estas?”  Don’t say “Estoy Bueno!”  TRUST ME.  Say “Soy Bueno,” instead. Haha!  We also played a fun game that involved a lot of running and fervent scripture searching to learn the difference between saber and conocer, which both technically mean “to know.”  

On Sunday we went to church.  The only one of our district (8 people) who had ever given a talk in church was Hermana Nelson so she didn’t prepare a talk because she figured the odds of someone else speaking were in her favor.  Unlucky for her, she was called to speak again.  It was pretty funny.  Our friends in another district sang because your district always sings on your last Sunday in the CCM (MTC in English but stands for Centro de Capacitacion Misional Mexico), but they didn’t do a very good job and all started laughing during it so then my district all started laughing too so it was just a mess because it was in the middle of sacrament meeting.  We watched “The Testaments,” that night for movie night.  My favorite part was when the main character guy was saying it was impossible for him to have faith in something he couldn’t see (God).  So the lady put her hands over his eyes and asked him if she could see her, and how he knew she was there if he couldn’t see her.  I thought that was silly because he could feel her and hear her, so of course he didn’t need to see to know.  Then I realized how perfect that actually is – I may not be able to see Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ but I can feel their love, feel the spirit, and hear their words through a modern prophet and the scriptures.  So I’m actually in the same situation of not seeing, but hearing and feeling and letting that be enough for my faith.  On Monday we took our going away pictures!  Our district all poses behind the big CCM sign and the MTC President’s wife takes a picture of us.  We’ll get to see them on Sunday and then everyone will sing, “God, Be With You Til We Meet Again,”  It’s really sad, because we are leaving so soon.  I leave the CCM this Monday (May 2nd) at 3 in the morning.  The CCM used to be a Mormon high school and was closed 3 years ago and opened as the 2nd largest MTC, next to Provo.  It can house 1,000 missionaries and the old CCM near the Mexico City Temple could only hold 125 missionaries. 

Monday was a rough day.  They told us we had to teach about temples to someone who doesn’t like their family and doesn’t want to be with their family for eternity.  Plus, we had an extra teacher that day and 4 teacher boss people who were there to observe.  So 15 people in a room the size of a small/medium bedroom plus all our desks, so it was pretty cramped.   Then they told us we had to teach the temple lesson (that we had never done before) to the scary teacher boss people and we had no time to prepare.  It was supposed to be a good learning experience but instead an Hermana and an Elder both started crying and there was a lot of frustration in the room.  Oh I almost forgot, right before this they had just taught us present subjunctive form and told us to start using it.  So not a great morning, things can be very hard, but we will carry on and it will make us stronger in the end.  In the afternoon when we taught Cristian, he told us he kept his commitment to go to church but he slept through it all because he was hung over.  Hermana Nelson and I turned and looked at each other and then telepathically agreed to change our lesson on the spot.  So we taught about the Word of Wisdom with no notes.  In espanol, and for 30 minutes.  It was crazy!  I know it’s going to be like that in the field all the time but it was our first time getting that big of a curveball in a lesson to where we actually had to completely abandon our prepared lesson and focus on the needs of the investigator.  It went really well though!  That night we gave some letters to an Hermana that was heading back to the states to go to her mission.  The mail is faster and more reliable, so she’ll just drop the letters in the mail in the US.  It was like 10:20 pm so we got a little chastised by a leader person. Oh well!  Worth it!  

On Tuesday (aka P-day Adam – because Adam comes before Eve) we learned how to street contact and played tennis during our gym time.  Wednesday aka Pday Eve, we had TRC again.  Insert for definition of TRC - The Teaching Resource Center (TRC) gives missionaries some experience teaching in their mission language, even if it is their native tongue. All missionaries visit the TRC each week. Volunteers who speak the language role play as "investigators" (people who are investigating the church) in these teaching situations.  TRC was super fun because we got to teach a girl who is our age and then an older lady.  The older ladies are the best because they talk a lot and really fast so it’s good practice.  We got our schedule to leave and everything is feeling so real.  We get our green cards this Sunday, the day before we leave.  Yesterday on P-day (Thursday) we started packing our tiny room and it is a war zone.  We played volleyball on the sand courts with our district which was kind of terrifying because I always think I am going to get hit in the face plus our Elders are all really tall and good at volleyball. 

I’ll try to send a video next week of us singing the song we are going to sing in church.  It works perfectly because 8 people = 2 people per part.  We’re singing “Nearer, my God to Thee,” acapella. It actually sounds really nice but we are all glued to our hymnals because none of us know the words in Spanish. Haha!

I am so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to grow and learn so much and meet so many amazing people.  It’s bitter sweet to leave, but my next email will be about Tuxtla.  Yay! 

Con amor, 

Hermana Dangl

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Semana 5 - "The Day My Companion Left Me"

Semana 5!  Things are getting so real!  The CCM (Spanish Missionary Training Center) is the best and the worst at the same time.  I can’t wait to leave but I am also terrified of leaving the CCM.  We (Hermana Nelson & I) are still teaching Diana, Cristian, and people at TRC.  We’ve started to also teach each other.  We used to have Libro de Mormon Study Time from 7:00-7:30 am & 12:00 – 12:30 pm and now they assigned us a new companion, an investigator, and a member to do 9 lessons with.  We get 15 minutes prep and then teach 15 minutes.  It’s interesting to teach with new people.  I like being an investigator though.  We (as investigators) have profiles based on real people from home that we pose as.  My profile is of someone I went to high school with.  It’s kind of cool to be on the other side of things.  On Tuesday Hermana Nelson and I were going to go to the US Consulate because she’s having passport issues because of her signature last week.  They wouldn’t let me go, I guess it’s high security there so I didn’t even drive with them.  I was in a trio with Hermana Keeler & Christensen for a lot of the day which was super weird.  You go everywhere with your companera. They always have to be in sight and hearing distance at all times.  It was really weird at first but now that I’m so used to it, it’s bizarre to be without her!  We are learning imperfect v. preterit right now.  I received some mail in Spanish (thank you!) and it takes a little longer to read but I actually understand it!  I never thought I would be able to do that and I can’t wait to get better.  I know it will come.  It has been raining a lot here, tons of lightning and really loud thunder.  Plus, we switched classrooms!  Our new classroom is about 1/3 of the size of our old one, it doesn’t have cupboards for our books and it’s really far away!  We’re trying to be positive about it.  I think we moved because this is the slow time for the CCM so they are closing down certain buildings and doing construction.  For P-day this week we got to go to the temple again.  So gorgeous!  We listened with headphones that translate because it’s kind of important to understand everything.  I love driving through the city to get to the temple.   Mexico is so interesting to me!  There’s just random splotches of bright color on everything.  I think it’s really cool.  Next week will be our last full week.  I think we all leave for Tuxtla around May 2nd or 3rd.  Spiritual Thought: We listened to a talk by Jeffrey R. Holland and a lot of it was about missionary work but I think this was applicable.  He told us that we should care enough to learn the gospel.  That seems like he’s stating the obvious, but ask yourself.  Do you know what you believe in?  And if not, do you care to find out?  Thank you all for your continuous love and support! 

Con amor,  

Hermana Dangl

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Semana 4 - Just do it in your free time!

Hola! Last pday after I wrote the letter, we went to the Mexico City Temple.  The temple was gorgeous!  We did a session and it was in Spanish but we listened through headphones and it was translated into English for us.  We had to talk in Spanish and that was muy dificil and I needed a lot of help.  It was amazing!  That night I also memorized the first vision.  It is so much harder for me to memorize stuff in espanol.  We have metas (goals) for our district to memorize Santiago (James) 1:5, the first vision, Moroni 10:4-5, missionary objective and the baptismal invitations.  It was a week full of memorizing!  We are still teaching Diana & Cristian, our investigators.  It’s nice that my Spanish is improving enough that I can hold conversations and talk about stuff on the fly.  I have to be creative though to avoid saying words I don’t know.  For example, when Cristian asked me why people don’t like Jose Smith and I can’t remember the verbs for attack, persecute, or fight.  Gotta work around!  We also try to practice our Spanish by sitting with Latinos at meals.  Most of them don’t speak any English, but they love American pop music!  It’s hilarious!

Sundays at the CCM are great but also the worst.  They pick a topic at the beginning of the week and everyone has to write a talk and be prepared to speak (en espanol).  After the sacrament they announce which 4 missionaries will be speaking.  The meetings are pretty small so it’s actually almost guaranteed you will be called upon to speak sometime while at the CCM.  Sometimes more than once it’s weirdly stressful.  My companera, Hermana Nelson, got picked to speak last Sunday.  We all laugh because they tell us to do a lot of things in our “free time.”  Like write your talk in your free time, or do this assignment in your free time.  The thing is we don’t have free time. Our entire day is structured from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep.  So we all joke about doing stuff in our “free time.”  Like, I’m so tired but it is okay I’ll take a nap in my free time.  The structured time is good because it makes us more efficient.  We did service on Monday – folding sheets.  The nice thing about our service projects is that we get to wear jeans.  It’s hotter, but so much more normal feeling to wear jeans and converse.  I’m also getting a watch tan which is really weird and makes me feel like my mom.  We chatted with some Latinas and they were all laughing because they couldn’t pronounce my first name – first or last.  A lot of people here struggle to say Dangl.  We also met some Latinas during lunch who were on their first day but leave to Tuxtla the same day we do because we are 3 weeks in!  Technically semana 4. 

I feel like I’ve been away from home for a really long time.  The days are starting to get faster, they aren’t easier, but we’re stronger so it feels a lot better.  On Wednesday, we got to teach TRC.  I don’t know if I have explained it before, but basically members of the church from surrounding areas come and pose as investigators.  So we taught an old who talked really fast even though we said, “mas lento,” and was as recently returned missionary.  It was great. That night we showered a new district with random goodies from the tienda (CCM store) to celebrate them making it through a week.  Another district did that for us after our first week.  Kind of a pay it forward thing.  We didn’t have pday this week because today (Friday) we went to Immigration, which sadly took most of our pday.  I think I have to go back though because my companion signed her passport weird, she started putting her nickname when signing instead of her full name and messed it up.  So now she has to go to the US Consulate, to get a new signature, and if they don’t accept that, get a new passport and then go back to Immigration.  Basically it is a big mess!  Then on the bus ride back we talked with Latinos and taught them some English while they taught us some Spanish words. It was fun!  Also only 17 or 18 days left in the CCM! 

Spiritual Thought:
We watched a clip of Elder Holland’s talk “The Atonement and the Mission Field.”  I would recommend looking it up it is so good.  “Missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience.  Salvation was never easy!  Why would we think it would be easy for us when it was never ever easy for Him?” 

Con amor,

Hermana Dangl

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Semana 3 - ¡La lucha es real!‏

Hello all! Conference weekend was great! We were so spiritually fed. We watched all of the sessions plus Women´s conference.  In both Dallin H. Oaks and Donald L Mallstrom´s talks, they mentioned the Refiner´s fire. Mallstrom asked us if we have absolute trust in God that He allows hardships to come so that He can bless us. This totally made me think of my days here at the CCM. God is putting us through trials and refining us into the missionaries He needs us to be so that we can better serve Him. The longs days mean we have more time to learn which in turn leads to a better understanding of the gospel and the language we will soon be teaching about and to real investigators. All the hard things we do will bless us or help us better serve others (which in turn blesses us!) The Refiner (God) knows exactly how hot the fire needs to be and how long you need to stay in there to mold you into an instrument for His hands. 

There were a lot of great talks and I did a lot of crafting/drawing/scripturestickering during the sessions (while taking notes and listening, don´t worry) so that I wouldn´t fall asleep like many of the over tired missionaries around me. Of course, Elder Holland´s talk was AMAZING and I loved that he said, "We may pass through deep waters, but we shall never be consumed nor overwhelmed,” and “All things work for good for those who love God." The first one especially was meaningful to me because it gives me hope!

Funny story- after conference we (the hermanas in my district and I) walked back to our classroom and there was a bird on the floor by the door to the hallway from outside and when we walked up, it got scared and started flying down the hall. We thought it was going to hit the window above the door! But the Hermanas on the other side saw it coming and started screaming so it turned around and came back towards us. We all ducked behind something and it kept going, hit the window above the door on our side and fell to the floor and died. It was really sad and terrible but also kind of hiliarious because the whole situation was so stupid.  It´s the little things like that, that make you die with laughter here. 

Sunday night we got to watch ‘Meet the Mormons,’ which I had never seen. On Monday I went ot the Enfermeria becuase I had been feeling a bit sick all weekend and one of the hermanas, Hna Christensen, had been feeling super sick. EVERYONE was coming down with a weird stomach virus so the Enfermeria was packed. In the comodor everyone was basically only eating bread and juice because everything else makes your stomach hurt (beacuse it´s all spicy, greasy, fried, or hot). The Dr. gave me some low key meds and the go ahead to sleep during our service activity. So the other sick Hna and I were on splits and slept while our comps helped the staff fold sheets for the whole CCM. When we went to class after, Hna Nelson (my comp) said I looked really red and my forehead was really really hot.  PLus my stomach still hurt and I was having chills/sweats so we went back to the Enfermeria after we taught our investigator, Cristian. When the nurse was checking me out, Hna Nelson told her that I felt hotter earlier. The nurse didn´t like that because my temp ended up being 103.6! The Dr. gave me some heigh key instense meds this time(hallelujah). SO that was a rough day. The next day was better and when I saw the Dr. again he told me that the stomach problems everyone has can probably be attributed to a new missionary bringing in the Nora Virus. And since the CCM is a small little community, it spread like crazy. So people have been calling it the brown plague (gross but hilarious). Eventually, everyone in my district (that’s 7/8 people) got sick and the only healthy one is starting to feel sick too. But I´m all good! I actually lucked out because I got a fever  then I got the hard core drugs and it made me get better waaayyy faster than all my district-mates who are just chugging pepto and taking a lot of frequent bathroom trips. 

To explain "La lucha es real"- we sang it in a song and started laughing because we say that here as "the struggle (or fight) is real". We also taught Diana on Martes as well. Basically, right now we have two investigators- Diana and Cristian (they´re actually our maestros pretending to speak no english and know nothing about the church) and then we go to TRC a few times a week where we teach members of the church who volunteer to be investigators. I have 2 moring maestros and 2 afternoon maestros. The classes are immersion so they only speak to us in spanish. I´m getting used to waking up at 6:30 though, but it is still kind of hard. 

Per request, a little more about my compañera. Hermana Nelson is from Bakersfield, CA and she is also going to Tuxtla. We get along pretty well and it definitely takes patience, but I´m sure that feeling is mutual. I only get one hour on pday to email (which sucks because regular mail takes a million years!) so I will try to reply to everyone that sends me mail but it´s hard on a time crunch! Please know that I appreciate all the love, prayers, and good thoughts you all send my way, even if I don´t always have time to tell you personally. My district jealously makes fun of the amount of mail I get. :) We are going to the Mexico City temple in a couple hours so I will try to send pictures of that next week. 

Con amor, Hermana Dangl