Monday, September 29, 2014

Focus on what you CAN do

We got a separate letter from Em this week. She's pretty homesick, and described herself sitting in a random Internet cafe in Mexico with tears streaming down her face. She said she can't even think of our names without getting homesick. I know it's all part of mission sacrifice and that in time her homesickness will be eased, but please pray for her that she can continue to be strong and that she can get through it. In the meantime, I believe a Halloween package is in order ...

¡Mi Familia!
Juance again, I´m faced with the impossible task of summing up a week of misión life! A week of disappointment, failure, fatigue...but also incredible joy. A week of goal-making, blisters, and a LOT of prayers. A week of stumbling: over words, over the always-uneven sidewalks. A week of merciful moments of inspiration, and some of the most awkward moments of my life. A week of cereal. As Hermana Salinas would say, "Welcome to misión!"
You know, it's real hard not to be super homesick when you're in a different country - a whole different world - with a companion who doesn´t understand many of your words or frustrations. Many of my goals this week have been geared toward steering my thoughts away from home, honestly. Some of my favorites (and most helpful) this week have been:

-Focus on memorizing one phrase to use in contacting per day, as I walk
-Choose one perky hymn per day to read over and have in mind when feel a ´lil sad
-Replace selfish thoughts with the missionary purpose. Sometimes I just say it over and over in my head!
-If having a hard time understanding, pick out a few words and use those to guess the question or just acknowledge that you didn´t understand!
-Focus on what you CAN do, and do a lot of it: that is, ask for references, contact, testify, share a scripture and thought, smile, walk fast...

We taught a lot of members this week, trying to build trust and get references. Sometimes it´s hard because Hermana Salinas will tell me to prepare a thought, but then will talk about something different and I´m left scrambling to put some Spanish together to go along with her topic. "Welcome to misión." There have been a lot of cool moments, though, where the Spirit has helped me to know what direction to go. I often turn to the Hymn Book. During an FHE on Preparation and Obedience we did spur-of-the-momento (not my forte), I decided it would be a good idea to read a few verses of "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" and then talk about needing the Spirit´s promptings to serve, then I had the 18-year-old daughter in the house share about her decisión to serve a misión. There was another time when I prepared a thought but then Hermana Salinas opened the lesson to something completely different that I honestly barely understood. We were in a member´s house, a family of six adults. It came time to share, and I was praying so hard to be able to add to this discussion which included some random scientific aspect I just couldn't follow! I talked about Jesús Christ Being the center of our religión, our guide. I apologized to Hermana Salinas and asked "What WERE we talking about?" and sure enough, she said it was about Jesús Christ being our guide and light! Jejeje, just a silly Little thing, but Heavenly Father knew I was having a rough time and just needed a Little help in that momento.
We also had a zone conference this week. President Whitehead knows my needs and is sensitive to them - a lot of the conference was catered to the needs of the newbies. A lot of "All you need is the Spirit" kind of talk, so good to hear they don´t expect me to be pro anytime soon like I honestly thought they did. President told me it took him about 9 months to understand, and he still misses about 40% of the Spanish he hears. Super comforting, much needed. Guys, missionary work really is the greatest feeling. Sitting in a spur-of-the-momento visit with a woman named Dalila as she held her daughter...H.S. and I sang "I Am a Child of God," we talked a lot about eternal families and she loved it. I shared how I´m here, so very far away from my own family, because I know how true and important our message is. You watch peoples´ faces as you tell them this great message of hope, and there´s nothing better.
I had a bit of a rough momento the other day. Elsa (soon-to-be-missionary) and H.S. were joking and making fun of my Spanish, like I knew was bound to happen and vowed to not let it affect me, but I felt like I was having one of my best days Spanish-wise, so it was a bit discouraging jejeje. You know, it doesn´t matter how dumb I look. I will do this work at the pace He wants me to! I think one of the things that He wanted me to learn here was that publicly making mistakes and looking idiotic in the name of something good is just fine. We´re on this Earth to learn, and making then correcting mistakes is usually how. Here, you can´t allow yourself to care too much what others think or THE LORD´S WORK SLOWS. This isn´t to say I just go up and start talking to people without a thought in my head, I have to work and prepare to the best of my ability, first. I have to work on my Spanish, I have to work on learning doctrine, but most of all I have to work on becoming closer to Him. This means praying sincerely, often, and striving to see others from an eternal perspective, which isn´t always easy!
It´s not just the language I´m unsure of here. I´m unsure of how to work with members, how to make appointments, how to approach less-actives. There´s no doubt in my mind that this would still be way super rough even if I was speaking English! But that´s why I have a trainer, that´s why I have a brain, that´s why I´ve been promised so many times to simply trust in Him and all will be well. TUNNEL VISION - God and my investigator. The opinión of man doesn´t matter - think about it, if I really truly got that through my head, how different would my life be? I would walk into every room with a smile on my face, my head held high. I would greet everyone in sight. I would let no compliment go un-said. I would volunteer my thoughts, I wouldn´t dream of comparing myself to others. I would view every day here as such an incredible blessing. BECAUSE IT IS! I was born into the true church. I was born into a faithful, wonderful family. I was able to leave for 18 months to worry about nothing but the important, crucial work of the most high God. I´M LIVING IN MEXICO. I HAVE A TAG THAT DECLARES ME A REPRESENTATIVE OF JESUS CHRIST. I GET A FREE, AUTHENTIC MEXICAN MEAL CADA DIA. I´ve waited for these days my whole life, honestly, and I just want to make the most of them. I know better now how this work, WORKS! Organize, contact, get references...I´m starting to get the hang of it! I´m so grateful to my Savior for carrying me these past few weeks. I´m so grateful I get to talk to my loving Father whenever I want. I´m so grateful I have the fullness of the truth in my life. I love you all so very, very, much...words simply can´t describe!
Beeeeg Keeees, Leeeetle Keeees,
Hermana LeSueur
Just for ya information, Dear Elder is the best way to send a letter! I haven´t gotten sweet Kitty or Goosey´s letters yet, I Heard they rarely come through, or they don´t make it for months. Pouch mail is how we opérate here

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's not about me, it's about HIM

We were so happy to hear from Sister Whitehead, Emma's mission mom, a couple of days ago.  She assured us all is well and Hermana LeSueur is already hard at work.  They are using Emma's piano skills, they already had her play at a mission fireside last Saturday!  Her companion looks so cute and sweet, I loved that they were both wearing their medallions- they must be soul sisters!  

Colorful casas. Bottled water. Insane drivers. Independence Day fireworks. Questionable meat. Delish enchiladas. Public transportation. Speed walking 24/7. Tons of people. Barking dogs. Crazy smells constantly. Constantly lost. "Soy Catolica." Broken English. Special K. Jello. Mo-Tab. Sweet ´lil kids. Un-refrigerated milk. Constant kisses on the cheek. "No ´holas.´" "LeSueur" "LeSoor" "LeSewer" "LeSewewer" "Lesughh." English lessons. "Together Forever." Chilly mornings. 8 pesos. McDonald´s, Carl´s Jr., Burger King, Costco, Walmart, Subway, Starbucks, IHOP, Applebee´s, California Pizza Kitchen all within 30 mins. Rules. Rules. Rules. Baptisms. Baptisms. BAPTISMS. 
No, seriously. It is KNOWN as "la gran mision" - the strictest mission with the highest standard of obedience and apparently the highest baptism rate in the world. Jajajajaja. If I would have come a little over a year ago things would have been a lot more intense. The mish prez before Whitehead was pretty strict, aka, Hermanas and Elderes couldnt smile at each other when shaking hands, they had to fast every Sunday, they couldn´t email anyone of the opposite sex (which actually was just changed a month ago!). These days it´s still comparatively strict, only Mo-Tab allowed (except on P-day when they just recently decided EFY music is okay). Lots of other little rules such as you have to do nightly planning and studying with your shoes on and no eating, you have to wake up at 6:25instead of 6:30, never ever are zone activities allowed, no watching the distribution center movies for longer than thirty minutes at a time, you have to be always standing RIGHT next to your companion facing the same direction and participating in the same conversation, etc. And you know what, I think it´s a great thing. Really! One of the funnier things that´s happened though was that one of the APs started criticizing the missionaries from "The District," saying "You know, they´re good missionaries. But we are the Gran Mision. We don´t eat cereal while we study." 
Fam, I LIVE IN MEXICO NOW! I´ve been asked quite a few times if it´s like I imagined it would be...the answer is YES! I have a companion who is from Chihuahua, Mexico, and this is her last six weeks! She doesn´t speak English, which is pretty rough, but I´d heard before that this might happen so I was at least somewhat mentally prepared. Hermana Salinas and I are the first sister missionaries allowed in this area for almost 10 years, I´m not sure why! It´s called Lomas Verdes, and we have one half while Elder White and Hansen have the other half. It is HUGE! It´s also one of the wealthier parts of Mexico. We´re about 15 minutes from the city. We live in this little extension of a member´s house, Hermana Gloria. It´s the kind of thing where you wash your clothes by hand and such, and that took up more of today than I thought it would! Since Hermana Salinas is new to this area also, most of this week has been traveling around our area with various members, visiting members´ homes, and STREET CONTACTING. I have so much love for these people, truly. I´m getting better at contacting, I can honestly say I´m not really afraid to approach people and start talking! Everyone is so incredibly nice, in the many many many people we´ve talked to this week I can only think of one or two that have straight up said "no thank you." They don´t know how to say "no" here! They´re all Catholic, of course, but they gladly give us name and address/phone number most every time. We were told they might sometimes be lying, yeah, but goodness they´re so sweet when they do! Jajaja. Everyone we talk to at least has a big smile and spares a minute to talk. What´s crazy is that Hermana Salinas told me that the people here are snooty and aren´t as accepting and nice as in her other areas. Cool moment the other day...tried to say a prayer in English with Hermana Salinas because she´s trying to learn English, and I failed! Spanish words by accident...I guess it´s because I´m immersed in the language! Oh, also, remember that one old lady from Nacho Libre at the part when Nacho goes to the sick guy´s house? That lady is EVERYWHERE. Also, those sticks of corn are all the rage. Goodness gracious, I KNOW that I will love it here. I KNOW this will be some of the most memorable eighteen months of my life. I wrote on Thursday: "I´ve already seen and learned so much. Heavenly Father has blessed me with the ability to continue to move forward with a smile, which hasn´t always been the easiest for me. He has seriously placed a smile on my face. He has given me gumption, He has given me strength to walk for miles and miles, and He has given me an endlessly patient companion and lots of understanding people. I AM THE LUCKIEST IN THE WORLD."
On Friday I wrote:
"Yesterday we contacted a lot because we went to Carlos´ casa for lunch and then needed to stick around and wait to meet him. It was a really cool area (Concordio). Really nice and seemingly interest people. I, yesterday, took it a bit more upon myself to share simple testimony or thought when prompted when contacting. I ended up sharing the reason for my being in Mexico a few times, in hopes it would help the people know how important this is to me, and they seemed gratefulo. I felt I should tell an older lady as we were about to part ways that this gospel is the way to find true happiness in this life. Yesterday, as we walked and talked, I felt the missionary purpose becoming part of me. It´s not about me, it´s about HIM. It´s about THEM. Move your feet, tunnel vision - the Lord and investigator alone. It´s not for glory, it´s what´s RIGHT. I HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO SHARE WHAT I KNOW."
Yesterday, I decided to make a little list of tender mercies of the week before we went to church. I want to share them with you, they include a lot of silly details of the week:
-The many members that have tried to speak English with me when I´ve struggled
-That comfy first night in the mission home
-Enchiladas (oh, ps...had my first REAL TACOS TODAY!)
-The man, Javier, I contacted yesterday almost all by myself! I shared everything I wanted to, and gave him a Restoration pamphlet, and when we got on the bus with him he was reading it!
-Even though we couldn´t find Hortencia (a potential who gave us her address), we found a really cute little family near the address she gave that I would love to teach
-Nighttime journal/cereal
-My baby blanket
-Pictures of my MTC district
-Sweet houses, picturesque 
-Carlos paying for our taxi ride home without our knowing
-Mama de Rodrigo helping me with my Spanish
-Ability to remember my studies when contacting
-Special K
-Comfy shoes
-Carlos reminding us to listen when I was getting caught up in doing repetitive contacting
-The 3 cute notes my companion has left for me
-The cute little girl we met in Concordia who practiced her English with me
-Hermana Salinas for running with me even though she hates it
-Mexico´s Walmart, aka FRESKO´S - able to find all my normal stuff
-They provided us with a DVD player to listen to CD´s and watch church movies in casa!

So much more I need to say, so many more details I need to give, but...
GUYS. I´M SUPPOSED TO BE HERE. It´s rough, yeah! But the Lord has helped me push through, and through Him I´ll learn the language, learn how to listen, learn how to better invite these people to come unto Christ. There are moments when I just look at the people we´re contacting and think, "IF ONLY YOU KNEW WHAT THIS MESSAGE MEANS!" I want you all to know that I recognize the urgency of the work, I know of its importance. I know that this church is 100 percent TRUE. Thanks for all your emails this week, I didn´t have time to get through them all but know I love you all with all of my heart and I so so SO appreciate your loving words! I miss you, and I love you, but I´M STAYIN´ RIGHT HERE. 
Beeeeg keeeees lil keeeeeeees,
Hermana LeSueur

Her high school friend Jessica, who is going to Sweden

She was sooo happy to see her cousin and childhood best friend Christian, who is heading to New York

A handshake for Emma's good friend and neighbor Mitch, he's going to the Philippines

Her cutest companion, Sister Salinas

Emma's colorful apartment

She's calling this week number "juan"

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Well, our girl is off to Mexico!  She was able to call Monday from the Atlanta airport while they had a long layover.  We checked all our kids out of school so they could speak to their sister one last time before she left.  It was a tender and sweet conversation with our family.  To hear her little voice say, "I have to go" was really hard to hear.  She asked if she could bear her testimony of the gospel in Spanish before she had to hang up.  Although we couldn't understand her, our hearts could understand her heart and we all wept with joy.  It was very evident to all of us that she has received the gift of tongues and the spirit felt in her words was strong and undeniable.  She sounded confident and happy, ready for the adventure.  We all listened for the "click" of her hanging up, and then we all hugged and cried a little more.  Our collective grief and sacrifice has brought us closer together as a family.  We have already seen much evidence of the blessings promised to families of missionaries.  
Then, yesterday, the phone rang and I saw a strange number on the caller ID.  I normally don't answer those kinds of calls, but I answered.  A cute voice said, "Hi Momma!" Her mission president let her use his cell phone to call and let us know she has arrived safely.  She only had 30 seconds but its so nice to know she is there and all is well.  Please pray for her as she adjust to a new country, new language, and culture.  She is truly in the Lord's Hands now.  --Traci

Emma's MTC District-- they became very close

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Buenas tardes, hermanos y hermanas!
My flight plans came, I check out at 4:30am on Monday. We fly to Georgia, we have a five hour layover, then I'm off to Mexico! Hermana Tam. waited too long to get her passport and apply for v and such, so she's going to Reno temporarily, which is super sad for us because Hma Heinz and Leonard and Toone and I are all traveling on the same flight and we were so excited to be together.
Some highlights of this week:
- We finished teaching Maria! I have so much love for her. Our last lesson was relatively mellow, we talked about keeping the Sabbath Day holy and prophets. It ended in tears for all as we bore our testimonies and even took a picture with her. I walked out of that lesson, ending my first experience with a non-member, with a renewed desire to GET TO WORK. I know that every time Maria progressed as we taught her I felt a joy unlike any other.
- I saw Mitch Head for a few minutes at Devotional, and then today for a minute because I was on Main Campus for a bit! So fun to see him, seriously. Definitely a little piece of home. I also saw Bronson Barben, Amy Shaw, Jenna Ericksen, Jantzen Glover, Christian's friend Jackson A... and a few more I can't remember at the moment.
- Sunday was released as a Sister Training Leader, along with the Zone Leaders. They want our last week to be somewhat relaxing, which I appreciate.
- First and last Fast Sunday Sunday at the MTC! Super cool testimony meeting, which was in English surprisingly. I've seen so many of these Elders and Hermanas visibly change throughout these six weeks.
- My relationship with my District is simply the best, so sad to leave them. I'd like to think I'll see some of them again, but realistically this is it for us! No one else is going to BYU beside Elder Scott. But I have learned so much from every single one of them, and I know for a fact why I was placed in this group.
- Last night my roomies and I had a little candle-lit MTC "Closing Ceremony" in our backyard
- Our last investigators are Ricardo and Travis, and they are Elder Flanary and Nielsen in disguise. This will be our last little project before we leave.
- We will go down in history as the zone of trend-setters - since we've been here, we've instituted on West Campus "District-nics" (District Picnics, I came up with the name OF COURSE), Post-Class District Races, and (as Sister Training Leaders) combined Hermana "Tender Mercy" sharing time/prayer at night. Pretty proud of ourselves.
 A newer Elder said something this week that summed up many of my frustrations exactly. Something to the affect of: "This isn't about reaching a requirement. It's about doing your absolute best." 
We're not working for a grade. THAT is, maybe pathetically, why a mission is so hard. Let's be real. Do we really give our all, ever? Have I ever truly given my all? How do I KNOW I'm doing OK out here? It's not like a report card comes in, and all my slacker moments are forgotten because my spurts of hard-workingness still amounted to an A. It doesn't get better than an "A," does it? So why "step it up?" This is about consistency. This is a situation where the Report Card comes daily, and it ALWAYS SAYS "TRY HARDER." And "better" is always possible, and "better" consists not of having climbed to a higher level of BEING, but of having corrected some small, seemingly insignificant yet completely huge FACET of your being. And that's what's daunting, crazy enough! Our betterment, the process of becoming's like emptying an entire beach of sand into the OCEAN of Atonement, grain by grain. I have an ocean in front of me and a beach of imperfects behind me. I say that, but that's not really how it is, not all the time. Much of the time, my back is TO the ocean. I look out hopelessly at my beach and underneath my feet washes up new grains 10x faster than I can get rid of the old ones. Especially here in the CCM. Realizations of flaws occupy my thoughts all too much, my goal making process often fails me. 
BACK TO THE BEACH, FACE TO THE OCEAN. This is why a mission is hard. What direction I'm facing no longer affects only me. It affects my companions, IT AFFECTS THE SALVATION OF GOD'S OTHER CHILDREN. So, how do I know that I'm doing okay? I recognize one facet that needs helping. I ask about it. I throw it into the ocean, so far out there that it can't possibly wash up again. ONE AT A TIME. Shovels don't exist on this beach, and that's OKAY. If, at every prayer, I know I'm doing this, I can know that I'm doing okay. 
Love you so much momma and dadda, seriously. I have LOVED my time at the MTC, more than words can explain and I'm pretty heartbroken to be leaving. I have made many unlikely life-long friends here and I have learned so very much about myself, about the world, about how to get along with others, about how to TRULY LOVE EVERYONE. I can't believe this time is here! I love you, I love you, I love you. 
Beeeg Keeeeses, Leeeeetle Keeees,
Hermana LeSueur

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Week 4: YIELD

Hola all!
My journal-ing has not been fantastic this week, so this will have to be a letter of tidbits!
First...WOW. Am I the luckiest or what?! So many sweet letters this week, with so much awesome advice. THANK YOU, FAMILY/FRIENDS. I read last week's email I sent out, and I feel as if I may have come off sounding a lot more negative than I meant to! It wasn't the easiest week for sure, but I thought I should share the whole of it with you because I seriously learned SO much because of those experiences. This week was fantastic, a LOT of teaching, a lot of mind-blowing moments! Highlights/tidbits include:
- Christian's Farewell - WOW! I heard he did so well, any of my companions slash roomies could tell you that I am SO excited to see him! I've been meaning to mention that I've met three of his friends here who have come up and introduced themselves - Slavens, Whitlock, and one other. KISHE, YOU'LL PROBABLY NEVER READ THIS, BUT I'M SO SUPER PROUD OF YA! 
- Maria, our TRC Investigator - WOW tambien! My goodness, we've had some crazy, LONG lessons with her this week. She questions EVERYTHING. This week, she had some pretty deep questions about polygamy, skin color, the physical location of the Spirit World vs the Celestial Kingdom, etc. What's frustrating is that she still doesn't want to pray. Actually, I take that back, in our lesson yesterday she said the closing prayer. In TRC, our teachers can watch us from a video camera in the room. I try not to think about it. But our second to last lesson with her prompted them to teach our whole class about how to keep the lesson focused on Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, how to humbly reply when we don't have all the answers, how to bring back the Spirit instead of allowing the lesson to end with a bit of contention or frustration. Our third-to-last lesson with her, though, was something really, really special - a milestone. I prayed so hard to be able to understand her thick Venezuelan accent, and when we got in there and started talking to her about life and how much she loves Divergent and how she watched Brother Bear this weekend etc... I COMPLETELY STOPPED THINKING ABOUT THE LANGUAGE. We transitioned, we began our lesson, and I just TALKED. We just CONVERSED. I felt as if there wasn't even a language barrier. Of course, there WERE words that I didn't know, I couldn't conjugate everything perfectly, but in the moment the Spirit helped me find another way to say what I wanted to, using words I DID know. This isn't to say that I haven't had a conversation with an investigator before. But this time, I enjoyed every minute and did not worry once about the Spanish. It was just so wonderful, and I really feel as if she considers us to be her friends. She DID tell us that we're her favorite missionaries. Yesterday, she straight-up told us that at the beginning of being a TRC investigator she was just acting, and now she's really considering investigating for real, whatever that means;) Maybe a little bit of a diss to us, but I do know that she's felt the Spirit as we've taught - I've seen it - so hearing that was actually really encouraging. After a long round of question-and-answer yesterday, I tried really hard to save us some time to simply bear testimony, and when the three of us did that I think she could really see how important all of this is to us. I'm finally able to better share personal experiences in Spanish, and I told her how I'm a worrier and such and that these are difficult subjects to understand, but because of prayer I know who God is and sometimes that is the only answer I need. So, how do you solve a problem like Maria? Still not sure. But I'm excited to continue to figure it out. 
- A big focus this week in our class was CONVERSION. Beyond testimony. We were asked to draw what we thought conversion might look like, then we shared with another district. I don't think my picture made much sense to anyone else, but the main thing I learned as I drew was that A DESIRE TO CONTINUE TO GAIN KNOWLEDGE pushes our conversion process forward, but it is our ACTIONS - progressively becoming FIRMER, being made with less hesitation - that helps it move UPWARD. Continual action is important in conversion. Being able to proclaim you have a testimony is only the beginning! After we did this, Hermano Rasmussen told us that our assignment that night was to ask Heavenly Father, "Tengo un testimonio?" I did just that. SI, TENGO UN TESTIMONIO. I know that there is a God, I know that we were created by Him for a divine purpose. There is a purpose for us being here on the earth. Our decisions matter.
- Lead, Kindly Light - "The night is dark, and I am far from home. Lead thou me on." These are the words from one of my favorite hymns that came to my head the other night. What do I have to offer my companionship, I wondered? I have so far to go, I thought. I asked Heavenly Father. He said something to the effect of, "You know me. I've shown you so many miracles, you are a witness. Just tell them (Mexico) what you know of me." It was such a cool experience. I encourage you all to read verses two and three of that song. I shared those in class the next day. 
- We got a new District Leader, Elder Nielsen! 
- "Bajar por que" is "turn down for what"
- My district likes to race each other nightly, do the Mockingjay symbol, and have a district cheer every night
- SO MUCH MORE I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR! But, as I've learned over and over again here at the MTC/CCM, seal it with a testimony and all will be well. 
What He wants from us is OUR DESIRE. What He wants is for us to be humble enough to accept a whisper over a yell, willingly and quickly. He wants us to understand that everything that happens is a miracle, is for our good and learning. This life is a test, cliche as that phrase is. We are proving our ability to break down the walls that separate us from total knowledge - for most in this world, the hard part is realizing that there ARE walls, and when we tell them what's on the other side of these "walls" it seems to be beyond anything quantifiable, justifiable even, to them, and it's scary. I am asking people to open their hearts, to dismiss preconceived notions and LISTEN to unfamiliar concepts, and it's scary! But I would definitely not be here if I didn't know without a doubt that on the other side lives a God who loves us and wants nothing more than for us to live with Him in complete happiness for ETERNITY! I love this gospel, I love you all. 
En el nombre de Jesucristo,
Beeeeeg Keeees Leeeetle Keeeees,
Hermana LeSueur