Thursday, August 28, 2014

Week tres: LOOK UP

SO MUCH TO SAY, SO LITTLE TIME! I only have about 40 minutes left today, so this won't be extremely long! As always, I have learned SO much this week. Every day, it seems, my mind is just blown by something someone said or some crazy experience. Last P-day, I started to feel as if reality had finally hit. Wednesday night (when classes start up again) we taught Guadelupe again, who is actually our teacher Hermano Rasmussen. I started getting nervous, I started worrying about what my teacher was thinking about my Spanish rather than teaching with the Spirit, and remembering my purpose. In a place where every day is full of near-constant embarrassing moments, I just have to remember that all that matters is that when I pray to Heavenly Father I can say truly that I am TRYING MY BEST. He is what exists, He is what is real, He is who I will strive to please. This is a unique opportunity. I'm not trying to "move up" in the world, so to speak, my words don't decide my career, etc... Beyond the reach of social pressures, I have the chance to just BE. I have the chance to become better, to dedicate every second of my life to getting closer to God SO that OTHERS CAN TOO. To be closer to Him, THAT is my goal. As I continually remind myself of what matters, I will speak LOUDER and FIRMER. I will LISTEN during lessons, I will be EXCITED to teach. I will stop WISHING for a different situation, because THE GRASS WILL BE GREEN EVERYWHERE. 
On that last P-day, I wrote in my journal:
In essence, BE BRAVE. 
Thursday was also hard, I was randomly asked to teach the Plan of Salvation in Spanish in 2 minutes by myself. Needless to say, it was ruff. We also taught Guadelupe in the morning, and Hermano Pemberton (Ivan) in the afternoon. Hermana T. started crying in the middle of the lesson with Ivan, and I wasn't sure what to do. I wasn't sure what to do and neither did Ivan, so we basically just ended the lesson with testimony. She was just tired and frustrated, as we all were. Before this lesson, I was a little upset with myself as well because I had let myself slip completely into English during my prayer at Branch Council Meeting, plus the PoS debacle. I had a personal prayer before the lesson with Ivan, and I felt I was blessed with a clear, focused mind. I was a bit disappointed we didn't get to finish, but looking back on it I realize that I was only pleased with it because I was speaking the language well and felt like I had a lot of answers. I didn't wait for the Spirit's confirmation before talking, and my companions could feel that something wasn't quite right. How grateful I am for COMPANIONS. 
I ended up fasting the next day for a bit of help. It was a FANTASTIC day of learning, you guys, I can't even tell you how incredible it was. We taught Ivan and I thought it was fantastic, same as the day before. He asked a few questions that I was excited to answer with scripture. Again, my companions didn't think it went well. I suddenly became discouraged, because I felt like we had all the answers and things were great. We had a Companion Inventory after this lesson, and we came to truly understand each other. They really re-focused me, and I came out of that Comp Inventory with the goal to stop focusing on myself, and my needs and my successes and my failures. This is about US, THE INVESTIGATOR, this is about HIM. Yes, self-improvement is required in order for us to be in the right state to truly help people, but THAT WILL COME NATURALLY AS WE FOCUS COMPLETELY ON THE NEEDS OF OTHERS. The other tender mercy of that day, the other answer to my prayers, was a talk given to us by Hermano Rasmussen. That guy scares me. I have such a hard time speaking Spanish freely when he's teaching, I'm not sure why, and every class I have with him I leave frustrated. That day, though, he left the Spanish lessons behind and talked about us being INTELLIGENT MISSIONARIES. He talked about using every moment of our day to learn and serve. I've been focusing on 100% obedience lately, and that's going well, but my day needs to be more than just learning words and eating food and NOT doing anything wrong/against the rules. We need to go the extra mile in everything we do. We can't just NOT do WRONG - we have to DO RIGHT. For example, we can use our meals to speak Spanish, we can use our gym time to boost the confidence of others, we can use our personal study to re-focus, we can pray SINCERELY at every opportunity. 
Also, Donny Osmond did NOT show up at the Sunday devotional, even though all my roommates tried to make everyone think he was, so immediately I started pumped everyone up for MITT ROMNEY next Sunday... :)
Monday and Tuesday were a little crazy, because we were suddenly given a lot more teaching opportunities. Hermana Captain became a new investigator named Estefany. Estefany is Catholic, has a 2-year-old daughter named Kelsey, and cleans a hotel at night (so she's always really tired). As of today, we've only had one lesson with her, and it was basically a "get-to-know-you," since when we got in there she said she actually only had 10 minutes instead of 20. Also, we've started Progressing Investigator TRC! Our investigator is named Maria, and I don't know if she's secretly a member or not, but we're not supposed to speculate so I won't dwell on it. She has a LOT of tough questions. She works as a custodian at BYU, she's young and has only lived in the US for four months now. Talking to her was a wake-up call. I didn't understand it ALL, but in the 40-minute lesson we had I understood enough to cite a few scriptures, bear testimony of a few specific things she was wondering about, teach her how to pray, etc. The Spirit was definitely there, and that's all that matters. Oh, also Monday night was cool as well. We were getting ready to teach the Plan of Salvation to Guadelupe, and Hermana Heinz was struggling a bit because she wants so bad to contribute to the lessons but the Spanish isn't coming. One of the Elders noticed, and offered to give her a blessing. The blessing really brought the Spirit, and even though it made it so we only had 7 minutes to teach, it was AWESOME. Right before we went in to teach, I felt that we should just bear our testimonies to him. I shared this thought with my companions, and they agreed. It was perfect. Words flowed. Hermana Heinz bore a great testimony she had written in Spanish, and Guadelupe/Hermano Rasmussen even shed a few tears along with us. THIS SHIFTED MY PERSPECTIVE ENTIRELY. We've been told that teaching should be the highlight of our day, what we look forward to. I think the last few lessons with him I'd been thinking of teaching as maybe an opportunity to test my Spanish, show my teachers how far I've come, or come closer to being able to tell the rest of the district "GUADELUPE/IVAN IS GETTING BAPTIZED!" 
EVERY LESSON SHOULD BE A SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE. I can speak slowly, I can sit in silence and wait for the Spirit's confirmation before speaking. It's okay to spend the whole lesson on one thing, if it's important. Disregarding the lesson plan is becoming "the usual" - and that's okay. Bearing testimony is always better than pounding tons of information into peoples' heads, even though they still don't understand the very first topic. Also, they don't need to know everything before they can be baptized. TAKE IT SLOW, PRAY CONTINUOUSLY. 
We talked to an RM sister who served in Argentina at the Copy Center. She said that if you strive to have the Spirit with you, not being able to speak the language WILL NOT STOP YOU FROM BEING A SUCCESSFUL MISSIONARY. I know, it seems obvious, but it was just an awesome reminder. She was once told that the only reason a lady had invited her into her house was because she "had the eyes of Jesus Christ." She was a new missionary, and had no IDEA how to speak Spanish. But her Spirit prompted this woman to welcome the missionaries into her home, and this Sister's Argentinian companion took it from there. BOOM. 
Thank you again for all your wonderful support. The letters and emails are just so very kind. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. 
This church is the only true church on the Earth. It's the only COMPLETE church, and it was established by Jesus Christ himself. I love it, and I love you. 
En el nombre de Jesucristo, 
Big keeees, leetle keeees
Hermana LeSueur
Emma's district

Her companionship and roomates in the requisite map picture

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WEEK DOS: David Archuletta and Donny Osmond

Hola, mi familia y amigos!

Once again, I have no idea where to begin! I'm so sorry I didn't have time to send much more than my mass email last week! I'll try to work faster this time - an hour to email is NOTHING, I've discovered!
This week was muy ecrayzeee!!! First of all, as I suspected, our first investigator (Jesus Benjamin) became our second teacher! His name is Hermano Rasmussen, he's two months home from HIS mission to Mexico, and since our first teaching experience was with HIM, he knows exactly what we need to work on! I love learning with him. I've come so far since he became our teacher!
On Saturday, we observed some Hermanas as they taught their last lesson before they headed to Costa Rica. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized I was actually understanding everything they were saying, and of course I got some awesome tips for teaching our own lessons. However, my mood changed a bit when we suddenly had to teach some of the other elders from our district with these same Hermanas in the room. It was intimidating, the Elders said they didn't believe in God, and we couldn't quite find the right words to say! Not a fantastic day, but definitely an eye-opener, so for that I was grateful. It made me more motivated than ever to expand my motto from "WORK HARDER" to "WORK HARDER, PRAY HARDER, AND LET THE SPIRIT GUIDE." I can't do this alone, guys! I can truly say that I worked hard to prepare myself to come here, I work hard now to prepare my lessons... but there comes a point when you're teaching the lesson when the notes you've written become completely irrelevant. You start thinking, "I don't even know how to answer this question in ENGLISH, clearly!" and you freak out a bit. Sometimes, I freak out and I shut down, or I start repeating myself, or I just start reading straight from my lesson plan. But SOMETIMES, I'm happy to say, I've been able to say a little prayer in my heart right then and there and when I do that the Spirit ALWAYS prompts me to simply bear testimony. Words start to come from my mouth, and the fear melts away. It truly does. I was talking to an Elder who is FROM Mexico yesterday, and he's heading back there to serve his mission in Chihuahua. He's a funny, talkative guy, but I loved when he started to tell my companion and I about his theory, which is in essence, "When in doubt, bear your testimony. People can't question it, they just can't." I couldn't understand him all that well, but I loved that idea, especially for this specific time in my mission. There have been times where we've been so intent on teaching our investigator the lessons that we run out of time and they shoo us out before we bear testimony, I'm embarrassed to say. 
On Sunday, I played piano for sacrament. Oh, also on Sunday, my companions and I got called to be the Sister Training Leaders for our Zone! Basically, we work with the Zone Leaders and are in charge of taking care of all the Hermanas. I'm really excited, obviously! We get four more Hermanas tonight, and we're the ones who welcome them in, get them settled, show them around...CRAZY to think that was me TWO weeks ago!!!
Sunday night's devotional was Jenny Oaks Baker, and as Gma Pam would say, she's a "riot." Jejejeje. Also, I've made it a point to try to spread a rumor of a different famous person coming to speak to us every week, and so I got some of my district to think I'd heard David Archuleta was coming. At Tuesday Devotional yesterday I tried to get them to believe Joe Biden was speaking jejejeje and next week we're starting a "Donny Osmond" craze. Help me think of new people, por favor.
On Monday we taught our first lesson to our second investigator, Ivan! He's just another one of our teachers in disguise, Hermano Pemberton (or Pampertown, as we like to say). Honestly, I'm at the point with Spanish now where I actually begin to ramble when I get nervous, just like in English...I did a bit of that the first lesson, but mostly it went great. He already knows a lot, he's willing to learn. Tuesday we taught him our second lesson, and that was even better! I wrote a lesson for himMonday night and gave it to my comps for reference because I thought I wouldn't be able to teach with them on Tuesday since I was scheduled to go to the Mexican Consulate in the morning. Pampertown let us go first, though, and I was able to participate in the second lesson! We were very straight-forward, we went through the Restoration Pamphlet, we had him follow along with us, we presented him with a Book of Mormon and asked him to read some of the introduction with us, and asked if he would read the "crowning event of the BoM" - 3 Nephi 9 - before the next lesson. We actually also invited him to baptism, and he said he would love that, but he doesn't know WHEN he'll be ready! We're going to keep working on it, ask him to come to church (can't believe we didn't do that the first time), teach him the WoW, more about repentance, 10 Commandments, etc. I'm super excited.
So, yes, on Tuesday I went with Hermana Leonard (one of my roommates) on splits to the Mexican Consulate. It was CRAZY because we took the Trax that goes RIGHT by our house! I could almost see it! I got to see JHS, our Walmart, Jenson was so crazy to think I was SO close to my family! At 2:34 I was looking over the Jenson field at the exact spot our house is at. 
For those of you who didn't know, I'll be leaving for Mexico on September 15th! My Visa's all ready and such!
My Espanol still has a waaaaaays to go, so don't's my quick testimonio!
Estoy agradecimos por este opportunidad tengo aprendar sobre y ensenar el Evangelio de Jesucristo, cada dia. Creo que La Iglesia de Jesucristo de Los Santos de Los Ultimos Dios es verdad, y yo se que puedo vivir con mi Padre Celestial mediante la Expiacon de mi Hijo, Jesucristo. That's about all I have time for....Love you all so very much, thank you for your sweet emails and letters! Each one is appreciated, even though I don't always have enough time to respond to each individually!
Big keees, leeetle keeees!
Hermana LeSueur

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Week JUAN: done and done !!

Hola mi familia y amigos!!
I'M HERE! I'M ON MY MISSION! IT'S MY FIRST P-DAY EVER! I am in the process of writing some actual letters, since I only have an hour to write emails and send pictures, so this one is going to be made up almost entirely of my journal entries since I arrived! 
Today is Friday, August 8, 2014. I have been a missionary, officially, since Tuesday night at around 10pm, and I have been here at the Provo Missionary Training Center (West Campus! since Wednesday at 1:15. After I was dropped off by my family, I received my missionary badge and my language materials. I was put on a bus and taken to Wyview Apartments (super nice!). A fellow Hermana helped me drop off my suitcases, and then I was off to class. Class had already started, and they sat me down by my new companion, Hermana Heinz from St. George. We answered a few "Get-To-Know-Yous" in Spanish, then boarded a  bus to the chapel for a "People and Our Purpose" meeting. This was an incredible time in which we were introduced to real investigators and prompted to ask them questions, get to know them, figure out their concerns, etc. The biggest lesson I learned from this (or re-learned, rather) was the infinite importance of simplicity, and what it means to truly listen. This experience had me smiling ear-to-ear - it was SO exciting. Our last activity of the night was meeting the zone leaders and sister training leaders. We did more get-to-know-yous, met our zones, and didn't make it home until 9:45. No time for journal-ing, just a quick shower and off to bed!
I woke up the next day at 6:00, automatically. It was nice because I was ready in about 20 minutes and had time to unpack and get my things together for the day. After breakfast, we headed to the chapel again for part II of "People and Our Purpose." This was another beneficial meeting where we took notes on "learning about the investigatro." I learned from this that it's important to acknowledge the obvious. We listened to an audio recording of a young woman who obviously had cancer... in my notes, I realized I wrote down everything I noticed about her BUT that she had cancer! That was a great learning experience, because I realized that many of my observations were assumptions. 
After this meeting, we went back to our classroom and joined our district in watching videos about the "Study Cycle." We were told what types of things to do during Personal Study, Companion Study, and Language Study, which we will be doing every day for one our each. Mi Hermana and I used the time we were given to try to learn to pray en espanol. We then changed for gym, but other sisters were playing soccer on the field (we didn't want to be the only sisters in the gym) so we went back to our apartment to do yoga! Jejejejeje... After lunch, it was back tot he classroom for Spanish with Hermana Captain. We watched a video that introduced us to "our investigator," named Jesus Benjamin. We went through a small study cycle, and came up with questions to ask him, and a few other ideas for teaching. 
We had a quick dinner, then we were sent off to a meeting with our Branch Presidency. We first had a small testimony meeting, in which each of us got up and shared a bit about our lives before the mission, why we chose to serve...and our testimonies! I loved hearing why each member of my branch felt they should serve, especially the sisters. I talked about how I've known that Heavenly Father has wanted me to build his kingdom in this way for quite some time, and has confirmed it many times in many ways over the years. After testimonies, we met the Branch President, President Shallenberger. We then listened to some advice from his first counselor, Slingerland, while we took turns meeting with shallenberger individually. He's very friendly, happy, and funny, and he put me at ease immediately. 
We woke up early the next morning for our weekly serve - 6:15! I should mention that as of Friday morning our companionship became a trio. Hermana Tameilau joined Hermana Heinz and I because her companion moved to the 'INtermediate' Spanish class. The 3 of us were in charge of vacuuming classrooms. We did so until 7:30, then got ready for the day. After breakfast, it was time for class with Hermana Captain. I volunteered to pray for the class at the beginning en espanol, best I could! Friday I really started to feel more comfortable with my district, and I learned a lot because I wasn't afraid to ask questions and make mistakes. Gym time consisted of using an elliptical machine on a split with Hermana Leonard, one of our roommates who also likes to run!). We ate lunch with some other Hermanas who invited us into their apartment. I was excited to chat with one of them - Hermana Ellis, who I sang in choir with in high school! Friday afternoon was a memorable one - we taught our FIRST lesson! All in Spanish! For 30 minutes! WE actually were able to use what we knew about Jesus Benjamin from the video in our lesson, which was a blessing. We were scheduled to meet with him at 2:20, but we ended up teaching at about 2:40...the Elders who were supposed to teach first didn't realize that when we went info our afternoon class, Jesus was already waiting in one of the back rooms! We all sat, waiting, for him to show, for some 20 minutes when he was there the whole time! jejejeje doyyyy
Being very inexperienced Spanish speakers, we decided to teach Jesus about God's love. We thought he would respond to the topic because, from his introduction video, we knew that he believed in God but didn't know much about him. The lesson went just about as well as it could have gone, taking into account it was only our second full day and in an unfamiliar language., There were a few too many long pauses, and he caught us off-guard when he asked us how to pray (silly me, did not think to prepare for that). Luckily, Hermana T. remembered how to explain the steps (all I could remember was "first, address Heavenly Father"), to some extent! I tried to think positively afterward, but it was, of course, discouraging overall. I just had to keep reminding myself that I did well for only 2 days of training, and there WERE times in the lesson where Heavenly Father put words in my mouth that I hadn't studied much before. All in all, a great learning experience.
However, I became really uptight afterward and wanted to get started on our next lesson right away. My companions saw through my semi-fake smile and took me on a walk and let me know that it's okay (and necessary, in fact) to take a break if you need one. We learned a lot about each other on that walk. They definitely came to better understand that I'm somewhat of a stress case and perfectionist, that I'm working on fixing that, and I came to be more grateful for these two, who are my complete opposites, but are, at the same time, PERFECT for me. They keep me sane, they are brutally honest, and I thank the Lord for that. 
The rest of Friday was Study cycle and we used it to plan and translate our next lesson for Jesus. It was a long day, but our experience teaching earlier made for a great planning session. We decided to introduce to him yet again God's love, and this time lead it into the Plan of salvation. We taught on Saturday night, after a day of stressing and practicing. It went so well! We were able to get him to commit to reading 2 Nephi 2 and when I bore my testimony of God's love in Spanish i just about teared up. We did well ad ad-libbing, and weren't as timid as before. It was a great stepping stone, and led into our necxt lesson about the plan of salvation well. That about gets me to today: Sunday. Oh, waht a day! We got some breakfast foods at the creamery Saturday nigh so we could have a little more time in the morning to finish some things. Our day started with a district meeting led by the branch president himself. He told us about plenty of mission experiences where he didn't handle problems with his companions very well. He gave us a process to use when bringing up an issue and advised us to apply the process to every aspect of our lives. We then headed to Relief Society, where we listened to music and the Spoken Word and then listened to a sister Rose speak to us about George Albert Smith's mother and what we can learn from her courage and strength. sacrament was next, and the way it works here is that we all write a talk in Spanish and bring it with us every Sunday then they'll call on us randomly to speak in the middle of the meeting. Luckily, i didn't get called on, but i did have my talk written just in case! That night's devotional on main campus was incredible, and I don't have enough time here to explain it all, so i encourage you all to look up "the Character of Christ" by Bednar. Possibly one of THE MOST INCREDIBLE, LIFE CHANGING THINGS I'VE EVER HEARD. I cried for the first time that night, since getting into the MTC, just realizing how lucky i was to be there. 
I haven't caught up in my journal for Monday and Tuesday (and actually, most of Sunday!), so I won't get to go into too much detail. Monday was wonderful, we taught our investigator about the Atonement and it went super well. I tried to write less notes and teach by the Spirit, and i stumbled a lot, but I was truly trying to listen to him and think before i spoke, and i think he could tell. The Spirit was definitely there! Highlight of Tuesday was singing in the Tues. night devotional - we showed up because we wanted to join the choir and then got put on the second row and we barely knew the song because we didn't go to the practice Sunday! I think we caught on well, though. Great devotional about repentance and how as missionaries we need to get on that ASAP. 

Okay, so that's a basic run-down of what's been going on some thoughts! Wow, people. I seriously have no words to describe what this past week has been like. I've felt a million different emotions, and not all of them have been great, but i can truly and honestly say that every single thing that has happened, good and bad, has done nothing but confirm to me that THIS WAS THE RIGHT CHOICE. I LOVE IT HERE. I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT. I love it here because I do love this Gospel, and I am completely surrounded by it. I'm the luckiest girl there ever was! I am full of energy, I can sleep at night and wake up in the morning, my roommates/companions are SO funny and perfect for me, oh, and did i mention that I've seen just about a billion people i know?! First of all, my friend Andrew Scott from BYU is my district leader, my old YW leader Brittany's little brother (Lavery) is in my zone, I've seen Mckay Demars a quatrillion times, I've seen Jamee Bonner a ton, Mckayla Johnstone, Lauren Gull, Stephen Buma...I know there have been tons more but I'm totally blanking! Oh, and a few of Christian's friends have recognized me and introduced themselves, and Mitch Morris from high school came up to me also. I love life, and I love this church, and THANK YOU ALL for your letters and emails and your love and your prayers! Can't wait to tell you all about my new adventures next week!
Love you all!
Hermana LeSueur

She got her tag!!!

Emma's "trio"