Monday, January 30, 2017

Semana 46 - Mission Worldwide Changes & Anyone Can Change

Hello Friends and Family!

I hope you've all had a good week. This week, all of us missionaries had a huge bomb dropped on us with some changes made by the Church Leadership, but I'll get into that soon.  Monday!  We were going crazy with so many errands to run, and I think I mentioned this in a past letter that we were in a trio for like 2 seconds, but everything worked out.  It's just Hermana Arellano and me for now! :o) 

On Tuesday the Hermanas from Villaflores came to stay with us, because on Wednesday we had to be at the church bright and early for a Worldwide Missionary Conference!!  President George and the Assistants taught us a bit as well about "Repenting, so you can teach Repentance."  I really liked that he told about how us we can't just change our behavior and call it "Repentance" if Jesus Christ is not involved in the process.  He is the one who changes our hearts.  We talked a bit about two examples from the Bible – Peter and Judas Iscariot.  Peter denied the Christ 3 times, but when he realized what he had done, he felt a true sadness – a "Godly sorrow", and then he became an even stronger follower of Christ.  Judas Iscariot, on the other hand, betrayed Christ with a kiss for 30 pieces of silver and eventually committed suicide.  He felt only the sorrow of a man.  So who truly repented?  

After the conference with President George, we started the Worldwide Missionary Conference.  The most exciting things about this are all the crazy changes that they made!!  We have a super strict, set schedule that we all have to abide by.  It includes when we sould study and when we can leave the house and what not.  But NOW, we can be much more flexible in choosing when we're going to study, plan, teach, and leave our house in the morning.  It is totally crazy, and instead of starting P-day when we finish all our studies at 11 am, we get to start by 8 am, which will give us 3 more hours to get our personal stuff done!  :o)  The other changes discussed during the conference had to do with key indicators we use to determine how effective we are being as missionaries – usually we have to report a LOT of numbers at the end of each week.  How many lessons we taught, lessons with members present, if we received references, if we taught less active members, how many people we invited to be baptized, or contacted, - lots of indicators, so the mission knows we're actually out there doing stuff.  NOT ANYMORE.  Now, we only have to report on a couple of items. That's it!!!  Craziness. 

Afterwards, we contacted a ton of people who expressed to us how they can't change – not that they don't want to, but that they can't.  There is nothing more frustrating than that for me on the mission.  Anyone can change! Anyone!  I love the quote by Jeffrey R. Holland which states:  "However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don't have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love.  It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ's atonement shines."  No one is lost, that's not to say change is easy, but it's worth it.  There's no growth in the comfort zone and there's no comfort in growth zone.  I still feel out of my comfort zone sometimes with the new responsibilities I have and speaking in Spanish and talking to random strangers in the street.  But it's worth it! 

On Thursday, our zone leaders called us and told us we had interviews with President George right that second, so we zoomed on over to the mission home.  After the interviews, Hermana George started making Hermana Arellano and I skirts. :o)  We also taught a lady that day, who is going to be baptized on February 11th.  We are super stoked.  We spent like 2 1/2 hours answering all her questions and got home super late.  This is directly from my journal:  "It makes me feel amazing to have the opportunity to help someone come unto Christ.  Sometimes I feel like I can't contain the joy in my heart to see the changes that are happening in the lives of the investigators."

On Saturday we had a lot of appointments that feel through, so we helped a member wash cars.  

On Sunday I gave a talk in church, which made me feel a lot more pressure than normal, because there are like 5 times the people than in Mapastapec, but it was fine.  We had some of the Young Men recent converts, who are 14 years old, accompany us on visits.  They hung outside though when we visited a less active family, and when we came outside they were playing soccer in the streets and had already set up a goals and everything.  Honestly, all the stereotypes about Mexico and soccer are true. Haha!  We ate dinner with a member, and they gave us a really good fancy meat and ice cream.  The members here are super great and it seriously makes all the difference in the work.  Our investigator asked how she could do Family Home Evening with her kids, so the bishop invited her over on Monday to see how it is done. Those kind of things really move the work forward.  All in all, it was a good week.  I hope everyone's doing well! 

Con amor, Hermana Dangl 

A Monument in Tuxtla.

  The view of Tuxtla

  Standing next to statue for peace, it's a gun made out of guns.

 Street corn I bought that made me feel like Nacho Libre.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Semana 45 - Leadership Training & Everyone a Missionary

Happy Monday! 

This week was... many things.  Very tiring, but good.  On Tuesday we went to therapy for Hermana Arellano at 7 in the morning, which is way too early when you're a missionary and every second of sleep counts.  We had to fit it in though, because at 8 AM we had Leadership Council where all the Sister Training Leaders and Zone Leaders are taught by President George, the Assistants, and President Olea (the 1st counselor for Chiapas.) We all ate atole and tamales at 8 AM for breakfast, then it started at 9, and it took over an hour for the announcements.  We finished everything around 4 pm, then had to plan with the zone leaders because we divide up what we learned from the Leadership Council and teach it to the rest of the zone.  All in all, we finished at about 5:45 PM.  It was a day full of learning, that's for sure.  Also, President George told us that he had forgotten that Hermana Arellano and I used to be companions when he put us together until he got our weekly letters where we were both freaking out and everything. 

On Wednesday we got lost coming home from therapy.  There are a lot more combis here with lots of different routes and there's not a map or anything, we're all just expected to know.  I guess it keeps tourists in taxis because they would get super lost in the combis.  We ate with the Stake President. He asked for permission to take us out of our area, but I honestly don't think there's a missionary who's going to tell a Stake President, "No."  It was awesome though!  I haven't eaten in a "real" sit down restaurant in a LONG time because usually the restaurants I've eaten at are little taco joints in the street.  I'm being reminded over and over that I'm not in Mapa anymore. 

On Thursday we were at the doctor's for a long time, but it's fine because they've decided that Hermana Arellano doesn't need surgery (yay!), and is getting better.  

On Friday the moment I had been dreading came... zone meeting! It ended up going super well.  We talked about the importance of referrals-70% of the people who are baptized are referrals from members or from the church. Basically, the members have to step it up and give the missionaries referrals, but the missionaries have to work to deserve the referrals.  We also did companion exchanges and this week I went to Aeropuerto with Hermana Burton, and it was great!  We had a great lesson about the Plan of Salvation with a 75 year old man.  Afterwards we asked him if there was anything we could do to help him.  He told us he needed some advice, turns out he has a "scandalous" (his word, not mine) plan to buy a motorcycle but doesn't know what all the church members will think.  It was super funny! Then another funny moment was when our zone leaders called and supposedly Hermana Arellano and I sound the same on the phone. So they were asking her (thinking she was me) about how her companion was doing with her back pain and Hermana Arellano told them all about how I was running and jumping around and they couldn't believe that because she was talking about me, but they thought they were talking to me about her.  It was pretty funny. Hermana Burton ended up getting super sick (even though we ate the same food), but I was protected by my time in Mexico in which I've accustomed but also because I happened to be taking some medicine. . . small miracles.  I don't have a lot of time, but some bullet point highlights:

  • We sang in ward choir on Sunday.
  • We had a ward activity for the re-dedication of the new building.
  • On Sunday they told us we had emergency special transfers and were going to receive a third companion.
  • On Monday we went to pick her up and President George changed things last minute, so we were a trio for 2 hours but not anymore.
  • Everyone think about someone who would be happier with God in their life and give their reference to the missionaries.  Then go with them to visit that person.

I hope you all have a great week! 

Con amor, Hermana Dangl 

 Hermana Dangl, Hermana Arellano with Mission President George
The sign says "Las Asistentas del Presidente" - Sister Training Leaders

 Sister Training Leader, Hermana Dangl, & Hermana Arellano

 Tuxtla, Gutierrez Temple 

 Hermana Limon & Hermana Dangl - old compas (companions)
 Newly rededicated chapel with Hermana Arellano

 Ward Activity for the re dedication of the new building.

 The Relief Society Sisters.

 Jeff found these pictures on google maps according to her directions about the cross streets. We think she is in the white 2 story house.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Semana 44 - New Area, Changes, and Responsibilities

Hello family and friends,

First off to start... what a week!  I felt like I was dreaming multiple times this week. My new area is called Terrazas, and the zone is called Mactumatza.  It's in the central part of Tuxtla Gutierrez, which is the state capitol. Tuxtla is very, very, very different from Mapa, which is where I was just at.  I left a branch with 20+ people coming to church to a full on ward with 80-100 people.  There's actually members to feed us and be worried about us and randomly say hi in the street. . .  it's amazing!  Tuxtla is more like a city.  There are lots of cars and things, and it's a lot more modern.  There's more money, and the lives of the people are more technologically advanced.  It's a lot more likely that the people will have internet, TV's, cars, and running water throughout the house.  It's a huge change for me (haha), but I'm not complaining.  It's super awesome to be with Hermana Arellano again. 

On Tuesday Hermana Renteria and I got up super early to finish packing, cleaning and getting ready to go.  I came to my mission with 2 1/2 full suitcases and now I have 2  very, very full suitcases and a very full carry on as well, but everything kinda fits.  We took a bus to Arriaga and then waited for a bus to Tuxtla.  We ate with a member in Arriaga, and it was a Oaxacan dish that looked like a bunch of soggy tortillas in a spicy bean sauce. However, it was actually pretty good.  Then I took a bus to Tuxtla, while Hermana Renteria stayed behind.  She's going to stay in Mapa for this transfer, and she will be with Hermana Flores.  Hermana Flores is the hija of Hermana Nelson, my MTC companion (hija means daughter in Spanish, but in missionary talk, hija is the missionary that she trained when the new missionary first came to the mission) and Hermana Renteria is my hija, so Hermana Nelson and I were freaking out a bit that our hijas are companions.  :o)

When I got to Tuxtla, Hermana Arellano and I had a very happy reunion, and we had a lot to talk about.  We got to the apartment (which has a COUCH!!!!) and talked a lot about the area and my new responsibilities as a capacitadora (Sister Training Leader or STL).  Our zone is really big, so we have 4 companionships of sisters that we are responsible for. This means we have to call them every night to make sure all is well and check how they're doing. And if something is wrong, it's up to us to fix it. If they get sick, they come stay with us and we get to be moms and take them to the doctor.  Once a week, we will do a companion exchange with one of the companionships and offer any training tips. We also help the zone leaders teach duriong our zone conferences.  

This past week was calm because it was the first week of the transfer, but this coming week is supposedly going to be crazy busy.  I really like the area, the people are very nice and have a lot of potential.

On Wednesday we started the day with therapy because Hermana Arellano has 2 hernias in her back/spine, and very recently she's started walking again so the work is a little different. Right now, we have to walk very slowly and frequently rest on park benches or street curbs because she has a lot of pain.  So far, I haven't had the opportunity to do this a lot on my mission – to serve my companion.  It's like being a boyfriend; I get to lift all the heavy things and basically help out more.  It's teaching me a lot about patience and better understand the scripture that says, "When ye are in the service of your fellowman, ye are only in the service of God."

On Thursday a funny moment reminded me of my childhood . . . when I was little, sometimes my mom threatened to wash my mouth out with soap if I talked back.  I heard a similar threat the other day, that if one of the kids said swear words, the adult would wash his mouth out with soap.  Here they wash a lot of things with soap and bleach (chlorine) like the floors, dishes, clothes, everything.  So the kid who was in danger of getting his mouth washed out with soap. He has a brother, who with all the best intentions suggested washing his mouth with bleach instead of soap because it would be better.  I'm glad Rachel never suggested that one for me. :o) I don't know why but it was really funny.  (Okay as the blog writer and mom I do have to add that Katelynne took it into her hands one time to be "the mom" and wash Rachel's mouth out with soap. Haha!)  I also realized that I had accustomed a lot to 10000% humidity and heat and right now Tuxtla is passing through a "cold front" which means I wear a sweater in the mornings and at night but it's killing me because I'm not used to it.  I'm not sure how I'll cope when I come home. 

On Friday we had a good day.  The members here serve us really awesome food.  Something funny that has been happening a lot is that the people we contact in the street think we're both "Mexicanas."  It is funny because we both are from other countries.  My companion doesn't have a Mexican accent at all because she's from Ecuador and I am super obviously American but there is genuine surprise when we reveal that we're foreigners.  Only if we teach for a longer time do they realize we aren't from here, on my part because my Spanish isn't perfect and with more time there is more room for little mistakes that give me away.

Saturday was a harder day, it's hard when I can see that my companion is suffering mentally and physically but I can't really do anything about it.  Things are very different now from when we ran all around Mapastepec together a few months ago, BUT I wouldn't change anything.  I'm very happy in my new area that I'm still trying to get a hang of and I have a renewed sense of hope for missionary work. 

Sunday was the first Sunday in the Terrazas Ward's new church building, which is very beautiful and new.  The church is growing a lot in Tuxtla and Chiapas (the state of Mexico), which is very exciting.  All in all, a lot of new things are happening in my mission right now. There are a lot of changes and I have a lot of things to learn but whomever God calls, He qualifies ... to doubt the calling you've been given and your ability to do it, is to doubt God and His hand in all things.  I hope you all have a good week and if you're praying for me, I'd love if you could include Hermana Arellano as well for her health. 


Con amor, Hermana Dangl 

(welcome sister trainer)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Semana 43 - Transfers & Three Kings Day

Hello all!

This week was good. Last Saturday, I got news about being transferred, so this will also be my last week in Mapastepec.  It's very bitter sweet.  

On Tuesday the sister training leaders came to Mapastepec and we did splits. I went with Hermana Ilizarbe and Hermana Renteria went with Hermana Vargas.  It was fun!  It's good sometimes to change things up and learn something new from someone else.  We had a cool experience that has a backstory.  A while ago, two teenage girls came to church with their grandparents, and we were going to visit them because they're not members. However, we couldn't ever find their house. Last week Hermano Jesus pointed out a house and told us we should pass by and visit because the mom was inactive.  We ended up passing by on Tuesday, and the mom turned out to have two teenage daughters... who were the same ones we looked for before but couldn't find!  It's cool to see God's hand in things. 

On Wednesday we had a district meeting in Tonala.  It was good, but also sad because I kind of knew that it was going to be my last time.  On Thursday we had an awesome lesson with another person that God very obviously wanted us to teach.  An Elder, who served in Mapa in the beginning of his mission, and who is going home this transfer, gave me a reference to visit one of his old investigators.  We visited her almost 2 years after her initial contact with the church and had an awesome lesson where she told us one of the reasons that she doesn't want to go to church is because she doesn't feel worthy to do so. This is one of the great tricks of Satan.  One of the apostles said something about how the church is not a place where perfect people go to talk about how perfect their lives are.  It's a hospital for sinners to go to be saved and healed.  So, you are never not worthy to come to church.  If anything, that's when you need to attend the most. 

On Friday, I gave my last English class, and we contacted a lot of people. Contacting is not actually all that fun because it usually involves introducing yourself to random strangers and then inviting yourself over to teach them about Christ.  We made a new game where I pick a super random word and Hermana Renteria has to somehow put that word in the lesson and vice a versa.  She's really good at it, but me not so much.  

On Saturday, I was basically stressed out all day about transfers because this was when our leaders were going to be telling us about where we would be serving next, and they weren't going to do that until the evening.  The news is that I'm going to Tuxtla Mactumata as a Sister Training Leader, and my new companion is Hermana Arrellano.  Whaat?  Right?!  First off, I'm leaving the coast after being here for 9 months.  Tonala and Mapastepec, my old areas, are both on the coast in the “HOT ZONE” of Chiapas.  Second, Sister Training Leader means I have all kinds of fun "responsibilities" like helping teach in zone meetings and doing companion exchanges with the other Hermanas in the zone.  Third, Hermana Arellano is my companion AGAIN! It's super rare to have the same companion more than once in the mission, but I am totally not complaining because she's super awesome and honestly she is like a sister to me. 

On Sunday I gave my farewell talk in church and visited all the members, the less actives and investigators to say goodbye.  I've truly enjoyed my time in Mapastepec (6 months or 4 transfers) and I've learned to love the people and accept the will of God a little better.  I feel that right now I'm opening a new door in my mission, and it's kind of scary but also exciting at the same time.  

I hope you all have a great week!  

Con amor, Hermana Dangl

The Three Kings and Hermana Dangl at the park. Three Kings Day or El dia de los Reyes Magos is Jan. 6th.

 Rosca de reyes is a traditional dessert pastry for the holiday.  They're usually really big and have little plastics babies cooked inside and whoever has a piece that has a baby in it, has to feed everyone tamales in February. 

Translation of letter sent to Hermana Dangl from her companion, as if the Three Kings wrote it to her.

Dear Hermana Dangl,

We have never been able to bring you presents, because you weren’t living in Latin America, but now you live here and speak Spanish so we can give you something small from our heart and know you will like it.  This is thanks to Hermana Renteria who spoke very highly of you. 

Continue being your best and enjoy your mission to the fullest and always work hard and the blessings will come, which are greater than the little presents we gave you. 

Remember “Always go forward and stay true and firm in Christ.”

P.S. Hermana Renteria loves you very much.

From, The Three Kings

Melchor, Gazpar, and Baltazar

 My companion surprised me and let me in on the tradition.  You set out a shoe and the Kings bring gifts, so I left a not in my shoe from the Kings and a little gift.

 Hermana Dangl with the 3 kings... the 3 kings came to visit me and left me a
 little something in my shoes.

  Martha and Jonathan, baby Johnny, and President Toledo

 Investigators-Dana, Kevin, and Adriana

Picture with Flori, Ale, and President Toledo

 These are all members that she is saying goodbye to before she leaves to her new area.

 Pictures with Veva, Damian, and Bryant

 Picture with companion and Carlitos.

Picture with Lupita, Lupita, Emperatriz, Carlitos and Iker