Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Week 5 Official Latina

Received March 31, 2015

This week has been quite the adventure! I got my Latina companion!!! Her name is Hermana Alaña and she's from Venezuela! She and I get along fantastically! 
Hrma Duff and Hrma Alaña
Today was my first day with my Latina companion. She is hilarious. We get along great even though most of the time I don't understand her because she speaks so fast. Tuesday night we watched 17 Miracles. It is an amazing movie and I suggest you all watch it! Today was my one mark from when my mission officially started! Hard to believe I've only been go for one month but I can feel that I have learned so much in this short month. 17 more to go!

After lunch, Pres. DuVall had me checked out by a doctor again for my knee. He ended up rewrapping it and telling me I had to get an MRI and use crutches for another two weeks. Getting the MRI was not so bad. I got to lay down and take a twenty minute nap, even though the MRI machine is really loud. Hermana DuVall went with me to get the MRI . I'm so over the crutches. Everyone calls me "Crutchy". It's funny. I love my new teachers. They're exactly like my last ones except for the fact that they don't speak English. Class is always interesting. Even though I don't speak Spanish fluently, thankfully I'm able to understand a good portion of what they say.

My companion and I taught our first investigator together and it was a little rocky. Unfortunately we have trouble communicating but it's getting better. I've been showing her how to plan lessons the way I was taught from the other teachers. 

Since Sunday was Fast Sunday, we start our fast after lunch the day before. My district decided to do a group fast which I actually really like. It gives a lot more meaning to your fast when you write it out physically. They even fasted for me. I love my district! I have El. Copa, Alcalá, Davila, and Guerber. For hermanas, I have myself, Hrma. Alaña, Diaz, and Guaparumo. We're so close already! They're a blast even though I don't understand them 90% of the time. 
The New Distrito Nefi
Sunday at the CCM are seriously the best! In sacrament meeting, I bore my testimony in Spanish which was really cool. Afterwards we had a district lesson about Job. Relief Society we talked about what kind of teachers we want to be in our life and in our mission. In the afternoons, we have devotionals in English which is a really nice break from the Spanish. I'm going to miss them a ton. We talked about the priesthood and grace today. And in the evening we watched the new Restauration movie. I think it conveys the life and work of Joseph Smith perfectly. 

I have 7 days til I head to Ecuador!!! Can you believe it's already here?! I can't! It feels like I've only been here for a week or two but it also feels like I've been here forever. My Spanish and English are mixing really bad. I'll be speaking in English and then switch to Spanish and vice versa. It's pretty funny when my teacher corrects my assignments and finds random words in English. Please excuse my emails. In the evenings of Mondays, we have devotionals and district meetings. Tonight's theme was power in the temples. The Church has produced a video about the temple garments and it explains our garmets. It was a cool perspective they put on it.
Hrma Alaña, Duff, Diaz, and Guaparumo
Knee update: In an hour, a doctor is coming to give me a brace. I will have to wear the brace for who knows how long. And unfortunately, I still have to use crutches. I still get to go to my mission in Quito but they will station me as close to Quito as possible to keep an eye on my knee. 

As you can see, all is well and I'm doing fantastic! It's going to be hard to leave! I love this group of Latinas just as much as the other two! We all become so close but this is just the first leg of the mission. I keep pressing forward, leg or no leg!

Have a fantastic week all of you! Enjoy Easter Sunday! Oh and General Conference is this weekend!! I highly suggest you watch it!! You know I will (and in English too thank goodness). Next time I'll email you, I'll be in Ecuador!!!

Les quiero!

Until next time,
The Strawberry Blonde Hermana
El Merrano and El Nieves (El Super Man)
Shortcut to class
The elder thought it was funny
"On Sundays, we were floral!" Elder Nebeker and Hermana Duff

Monday, March 30, 2015

Updating Mission Address

March 30, 2015

Hello Everyone,

Hopeful that Megan gets her medical clearance this week, I have updated her Mission Address to her Mission Home until she receives an address for her new apartment.

Using Dear Elder is one way of assuring that Megan receives your letters, and it is a free service. On the Dear Elder site, you only need to select the Ecuador Quito North Mission as your option of where to send your letters to Sister Megan.

We appreciate all of your prayers, love, and support for Sister Megan aka "The Strawberry Blonde Sister"!


Karen & Rob

PS Watch for Megan's younger brother's mission call... coming soon.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Week 4 What in the World is going on?

March 26, 2015

Hey Family and Friends!

You could say this past week has been quite the adventure...

Update: My knee is doing really well. (Thank you for all of your prayers... Mom) I can now walk on it and can go most of the day without needing crutches. I can walk up and down stairs extremely slowly but I can walk!!! It is truly a blessing to see my knee improving so quickly. I no longer have the fear of being sent home!
Group of MTC, round 2
I spent most of the day practicing walking in between my classes. Apparently I limped really bad because Hrma. Hull mimicked me and it looked pretty bad but I considered it a blessing that I could put my full weight on it without pain. Unfortunately with all my excitement about walking, O wore myself out. After dinner, I could barely carry myself on my crutches. So we have this thing called CRE where we get to practice teaching but you don't get to know anything about the situation beforehand. I got to be an investigator and it was pretty fun. Elder Wright, one of the Nortes, is apparently a certified hypnotist. He put a couple of Elders in my district under and it was pretty hilarious.

So on Tuesday I went to the hospital with another hermana, right? Well, a really bad stomach flu or something was going around. One of the hermanas ended up passing out in the bathroom and sent the CCM in a panic. It didn't help that these new Latinas were super dramatic. She went to the hospital and it turns out that she had gotten a really bad migraine, a stomach bug, dehydrated, and passed out. She came back from the hospital later that night.
Hrma. Duff with Hrma. Harris
I did not get to go do the proselyting activity today because of my knee. I was super bummer out but nothing I can really do about it. I ended up staying in my room all morning, studying grammar. Later that night, we had a huge Latina hermana fight out in the hallway. There was tons of yelling for 10 minutes. I ended up being the one to break it up and get them all to go to bed. After that, the hermana that had passed out the day before did the same thing. Again, all the dramatic Latinas panicked and were saying that they needed to do some crazy stuff to help her out. They were saying some pretty bizarre stuff like put ice on her leg or make her eat a raw egg... Differences in culture is amazing. She ended up being okay again but she was not allowed to leave for her mission this week. Oh and then another elder in my district passed out and smacked his face on the ground. He has a really bad concussion and cannot remember the past month.

Church was really good today. I actually prepared a talk that I would be proud to give, all in Spanish, but I didn't get chosen. My companion did though. She was so nervous that she speed read. I felt so bad that she was nervous but I thought it was really funny. I was actually able to comment in Relief Society today. I made several comments. Sounds like not a big deal but when trying to understand what super emotional Latinas are trying to say is quite a big deal. We ended up having a testimony meeting for our district meeting and it was so good! Ah I love my district! One of the elders of another district told me that the hermanas in his district thought I should be the leader hermana because all of the hermanas listen to me. I told him I couldn't because I can't speak Spanish enough and I understand even less.

Saying goodbye really sucks I have decided. They were all giving me little trinkets and candies to say goodbye, writing me heart felt notes in Spanish, and telling me that I'm not suppose to like the new Latinas (just like the last ones...). They're funny. Even though we're only together for two weeks, they end up becoming your family. It makes it really hard to say goodbye.
A beautiful hibiscus at the Bogota temple
I wasn't planning on getting up early to say goodbye but all my Latinas woke me up anyways to say goodbye. I miss them already... The temple was amazing as always. Since I was struggling with walking a little bit a temple worker in the dressing room took it upon herself to help me put away my things and escort me to the next part. The old ladies in the temple are just so cute! I am officially on my last two weeks at the CCM which means I get a Latina companion! My companion is from Venezuela. She will be getting here in a couple of hours! I will still be in district Nefi! I'm almost out! Time is flying! AHHHHHHHH! I'm so excited! Now I just got to get my knee back in top physical condition and we'll be all set for Ecuador!
That's my week! It was quite the adventure and soon a new one begins! The elder still doesn't remember much but he's trying to get it back. The other hermana who kept passing out will be flying out later this week. 

I love you all! ¡Les quiero!

Until next time,
The Strawberry Blonde Hermana
Bogota Temple, gorgeous as always

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Week 3 I'm going home with super strong arms!

Hola Familia y Amigos!

Can you believe it's the halfway mark for me in the CCM?? These past 3 weeks have felt like they just flew by!

So my trio has been split! I was in a trio with Hrma. Harris and Hrma. Hull but now it's just Hrma. Harris and I. I much prefer not being in a trio, it's so much easier to teach and function. But I do miss Hrma. Hull. The new Latinas are really quiet and take some time to warm up to us but they're coming round slowly. I memorized the First Vision today in less than an hour! I feel quite accomplished in life right now.
Pres. & Hrma. DuVall & Hrma. Harris
We got to have a different teacher teach our grammar today which was refreshing. He was practicing his English and he's super funny because he tells the simplest of jokes. They're dumb but really funny because of his accent. Hrma. Harris and I have the goal of after dinner, we only speak Spanish. It's still a little rough because our vocabulary is small but thank goodness for dictionaries!
Distrito Nefi
It was Friday the 13th and I survived! Hrma. Harris and I had to teach two different "investigators" today. It went so well! Later in one of our classes, we had a little testimony meeting. First we gave our testimonies in English and then in Spanish. I had never felt the Holy Ghost like this before. The Spirit was so strong in the room. We also changed district leaders. Elder Velasquez use to be our district leader but now it's Elder Guerber.

I am too strong for my own good ;) I accidentally pulled a shelf off the wall. Basically it was stuck in a cement wall with two little wooden pegs. Ooops! It's all good, it just slid right back into place. During gym time, I played on a team that won 7 games in a row! I felt pretty cool because I had some really good spikes.

Sundays always seem to be the best day of the week! Sacrament meeting is always really good. Sunday school is in English. Relief Society was a little upsetting because a hermana put a quote up on the wall and I could not understand it in Spanish, or English for the matter! I was kinda feeling down on myself because I cannot for the life of me understand these new Latinas. But during lunch, I was talking to a couple and expressing what little I could about my frustration. They said not to worry about it because they could understand me and told me that I didn't have a gringo accent. Later in the evening we watched a church video about missionary work and how it is expanding. It was so cool to learn about other people doing missionary work that were not set apart to be a missionary.
Hermanas at the temple
Again we taught our "investigators" today. It is getting so much easier to teach in Spanish. Crazy to think in a week, I get a Latina companion. Gym was kind of lame today but that's alright, it's still fun to get outside and play. Hrma. DuVall (the CCM President's wife) gave a really great devotional about how great temples are. Going to the temple each week is probably my favorite activity.

Today was a rough day for me. It started out great. I was able to go through the temple for the 3rd time in Spanish. I'm beginning to understand a lot more and it's so much more enjoyable. Afterwards we took our traditional pictures out in front of the temple and then headed back to the CCM. After lunch, it was Pday! I was suppose to write at 2pm but because of internet problems, we were told that we were not emailing until after 7. So we went out and started playing volleyball. Not going to lie, I had some pretty good hits today. But not all good things can last. I ended up twisting funny, hurting my knee, and falling to the ground. After a few minutes of lying on the ground in pain, they took me and another hermana, who not a half hour before sprained her ankle, to a clinic to get them checked out. 
4 ace bandages, a sleeve, some tape, and a ton of gauze later
Colombian medical care is very interesting... On the way there, we were told to starting crying at the clinic to show how much pain we were in. If we didn't, we would have sat and waited for up to 4 hours. I put on my best show. I only had to wait 30 minutes and then was taken back. Thankfully, I got a medical student who spoke some English. After xrays and some painful prodding of a orthopedic doctor, they determined  that I just sprained my knee bad. They wrapped my leg from hip to ankle in gauze, ace bandages, and tape to prevent me from bending my leg too much. I'm also on crutches for the next week. Basically I have a week and then they will determine if I can stay out and go to my mission or if I will have to return home. Only time will tell.
Hrma Maldonado and Hrma Duff after the clinic
I am extremely blessed with my district. They gave me a blessing right before I left for the clinic the day before. All the elders have offered to help carry me up and down the stairs. My companion carries all of my stuff for me. And all the Latinas are very concerned for me. They're always checking up on me to see if I need something or if they can help me with something or trying to make me laugh. I feel so loved.

That's been my crazy week. I'm praying extra hard that my knee heals quickly. I know with all my heart that there is someone in Ecuador that I am suppose to meet. I can't go home right now...

Until next time, 
The Strawberry Blonde Hermana

PS Crutches are exhausting! But I'm going to have great upper body strength! ;)
Hrma. Gomez, Norte teacher
Hrmo. Herrera, Norte Teacher
Hrma Velasquez and Elder Silva
Hrma. Maldonado and Hrma. Vega
Dulce de Leche, so good!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Week 2 Goodbye goodbye

Hello my friends and family!

Can you believe that I've been here for two weeks?! Already??? Where has the time gone? Well here's the run down for my past five days...

The rest of PDay was pretty much a huge yearbook signing day. Well, first I had to get a tetnus shoot... Elders and Hermanas were swapping emails, taking 9 billion photos, and eating tons of random junk food. It was kind of sad to realize that the Latinas were leaving Tuesday morning.

So I got to go real life proselyting! I got to leave the cage and explore the surrounding neighborhoods of Bogota! Crazy! Pretty much everyone we talked to kept asking if we understood, how long we had been in Colombia, and if we understood. One gentleman kept asking us over and over and over. But it was a ton of fun!
A guy named Luiz, he is a member and liked to help the new missionaries practice
Talking to some meat guys!
We had a 70, Elder Torres come. Unfortunately I missed the devotional with him! I ended up having a bad reaction to my tetnus shot from Friday and had to lay down for most of the afternoon/evening. My back was killing me!! Oh well, I'm still alive obviously! We also got to watch Meet the Mormons, my first time! I highly suggest you watch it if you haven't.

So many many goodbyes. All my Latinas were leaving in the morning, so there were many last minute rushed goodbyes. It was so hard but knowing that this is only the first stop makes it a little easier in saying goodbye.

Today has been packed! I have been up since 2am! I helped Hermanas pack up their sheets, drag their forever heavy suitcases downstairs, and waved goodbye to many tear stained faces. How I miss them already. We went to the Bogota temple today as well and had lunch in the cafeteria. Then we went on a little tour of Bogota! We went up to Monserate, a really cool old church that is at 3,150 meters (I can't convert, so here's a math problem for you!). It was so cool. Then we got to go to the largest collection of gold relics in the world. It was awesome but I was so exhausted that I didn't really care...
Rode in a gondola, went up to 3,150 meters (10,334 ft)
View of Bogota
Monserate with the Nortes
Entrance to the Monserate
That's pretty much it for these past five days. I get to meet the new set of Latinas tomorrow morning. And we are only getting 3 elders from the United States. News: my PDay for the rest of my time in the CCM will only be on Tuesdays. They're changing it from every other Friday/following Tuesday. 

Hope you guys are all doing well!

Until next time,
The Strawberry Blonde Hermana
Gold Pieces from the Gold Museum

Friday, March 6, 2015

Another mail option for family & friends

March 6, 2015

I found out that I can receive "Dear Elder Letters" here. Just when you go to the website, make sure it says Colombia MTC. 
Les quiero!

Hermana Duff

Landed it!... finally... Part 2

March 6, 2015
Landing in the Bogota Airport
¡Bienvenidos de Colombia!
That's kind of weird to think about... I'm still struggling with the idea that I'm not in America for the next 18 months. So I had quite the adventure getting to Colombia. After missing two flights, losing my luggage, standing in lines for hours, I finally made it to Colombia! (My luggage came the next morning...) 

Oh and in the eyes of the Church, I was technically missing for about 4 hours... Oops... What happened was I got on my plane all fine and dandy in Boise and flew to LAX (crazy busy airport). We landed a little early and there was confusion in the terminals, so we ended up sitting on the plane for 45 minutes, aka my entire layover. I rushed to my next gate only to find I got there right as it closed. They had overbooked the flight and there was no way they would let me on. Panicking, I borrowed a nice gentleman's phone and called the phone number that we are given in case of problems like this. The lady that I talked to got me another flight that was in two hours and told me to locate my suitcase. I requested my suitcase (I have been told on countless occasions that if you don't get on the plane, your suitcase will not either...). I went down and out of security to go wait for my suitcase. 

After 45 minutes of waiting and inquiring about my suitcase, I was notified that my suitcase did in fact make my flight to Georgia. Frustrated and realizing that I probably wasn't going to make my flight, I tried anyways. They ended up switching me to another airline where they could not find my ticket. They had me wait in one line for 30 minutes and in that time, I borrowed yet another lady's phone (she wasn't really happy about that one) and asked what I was suppose to do. I talked to the lady and she said to keep trying to talk with the airline and they would work on their end to figure out what to do with me.

I ended up getting moved to another line. When I finally got to the front of that line, I talked to a really nice airline lady who told me that my ticket was voided. In my mind, I was thinking, "This is ridiculous, I can't keep doing this!" My eyes started to water as I tried to think. The lady could tell I was in distress. She said that I should talk to the church to see what they're going to do. I asked her to call because I didn't have the heart to talk to them anymore. She started talking to them and then handed me the phone because they wanted to talk to me directly. I was transferred to the head guy over missionary travel services for the church. He said that they had been trying to locate me for a couple of hours, added my mom to the call, and we figured out my flight. 

I ended up switching to yet another airline. At this point, it was 1 pm and I was exhausted from trying. Making my way through security, I arrived at my gate and collapsed. They had me fly through the Houston airport. When I landed in Houston, it was 6 pm and we didn't board my last flight until 11:15. I sat in silence. Time came to leave and I called my parents real quick to say hi and bye. The flight went well and I got to Bogota at 5 in the morning.

Now when flying, missionaries are given very specific instructions to locate their suitcases before they leave the airport. Following these instructions, I tried to find my suitcase before I left security. No success. I gave up and went to find the person who was suppose to pick me up. I found her and attempted to explain to her in what little Spanish I knew why I did not have my suitcase. She did not understand any of it, talked to some people, and then I was left with a senior couple and another missionary who was from I want to say Uruguay. We got in a van and drove to the CCM. It took an hour to get there (without traffic, the CCM is only 10-12 minutes away from the airport).
Arriving at the CCM with an elder from Chile
I arrived at the CCM (MTC in English) around 7am, Colombian time and immediately went into orientation for filling out papers and getting things ready to begin training and learning. I met with President and Sister DuVall (my CCM president and his wife) to go over shot records, health problems, and a bunch of other things. I got my name tag, so I'm offically Hermana Duff! (pronounce Dooff). My district is Nefí. In the group of missionaries that came the day that I came were 3 other hermanas and 4 elders. There are also 3 other elders and a hermana that had been here for two weeks. We're basically family now. I'm in a trio. My compañeras are Hermana Hull and Hermana Harris. Funny story about Hermana Hull, she got my passport and I got her passport two weeks before we were suppose to come to the CCM.
Pres. & Hrma. DuVall, Hrma. Duff & companions Hrma. Hull & Hrma. Harris
Two days felt like we have been here for 2 weeks. Basically I'm in a never ending Spanish and Seminary class for the next 6 weeks. It's actually not that bad. Food is actually pretty good here. Unlike the Provo MTC, the Colombia CCM has only one main course option and a couple fruits/vegies/salads. We eat a ton of rice and plantains but hey, it's not that bad. I eat everything that Í'm given. The cooks are super nice. They try to cook American type foods every once in a while.
The Latinas wanted to take lots of pictures on Pday
During our gym time, we play a lot of volleyball and soccer. Apprently up until our group got there, soccer had been taken away because missionaries and teachers got too intense. I'm slowly learning how to play volleyball in Spanish. We practice teaching "investigators" and taught for our first time tonight. It was rough but we mangaged to pull through.

We played lots of volleyball
Any time I need help pronouncing words in Spanish or try to figure out how to say something in Spanish, I always ask the Latinas. They're always willing to answer questions. I've been making friends with the Latina Hemanas like Hrma. Zerpa, Vidal, and Ruiz. Oh, there are 63 missionaries at the Colombian CCM right now, 22 of them are hermanas. About a quarter of all the missionaries are American or Nortes as they say.
First Round of Latinos
It was fast Sunday today. About 44 of the missionaries were able to bear their testimony which President DuVall said was amazing because of how much time we have to do so. During the afternoon/evening, we have Gospel discussions with President and Hermana DuVall (in English). And we get to watch a church movie before we go to bed. Oh, there are 4 sets of bunk beds in my room, seven hermanas.

The life of the CCM is becoming a routine. We get up, get ready, study scriptures for an hour, breakfast, grammar class, personal study, lunch, grammar, TALL (computer program to reinforce what we learn in grammar class), gym, dinner, Book of Mormon class, investigator teach/preparation, get ready for bed, and sleep. I've been making friends with all the Latinas and I can almost name all of the hermanas. We goof around and they like to tell me that my Spanish is improving a lot! Good to know!
Distrito Nefi at the Bogota Temple
So every Tuesday, we all go to the Temple to do an endowment session. It was so cool to do a session in Spanish and I got in for the most part. It rained a lot today, so we weren't able to play volleyball outside. Fun fact, Colombia's rainy season is from March to May... Oh goody ;)

It's always fun to chat with the Latinas. We may have a language barrier that is slowly coming down but we can always have fun. Hrma. Romero calls me Hrma. Duffina.

So the Latinas are only here for two weeks and then they leave for their missions. They got to go to the temple this morning so breakfast was really quiet. We have to leave for the temple at 7am because traffic is insane in Colombia! Later in the afternoon, we had a gentleman from church headquarters come and talk to our teachers about new methods of teaching languages much faster. The Nortes were the guinea pigs and got to practice with the teachers for a little bit. It was actually really cool and helpful. We also got to see a video that the church put together that will be shown all over the world in a few months. How cool am I now? Chiste... Even better news! A bunch of the Latinas and some of the teachers say that my Spanish is coming along really well and my pronunciation is excellent! They told me I am now a Latina!!! I am no longer a gringa!! (a Norte speaking Spanish with horrible pronunciation)

Today is my Pday where I get to email. Since the CCM is set up so Latinas get cycled through every two weeks and Nortes get 6 weeks, Pdays work a little differently here. So I am emailing today, my next Pday will be on Tuesday and then won't be until the 20th. Kind of weird but hey, it's works for them so that's what we're doing.
Half of the hermanas on Pday
So you guys can see that I am doing well and learning a ton! My days begin at 6:30 and end at 10:30. I hope you all have an amazing week and hope to hear from y'all soon!

Until next time,
The Strawberry Blonde Hermana

PS. I get to go actual prosyliting tomorrow morning!! I get to leave the CCM and explore Bogota! Kind of...

Hrma. Romero & Hrma. Duff were best friends
Silly hermanas
Hrma. Merino & Hrma. Romero
Hrma. Carrasco & Hrma. Ruiz
Elder Salvatierra & Hrma. Maynez

Landed it... finally...

February 25, 2015

Hey there family,

I finally made it to Colombia. It has been quite the adventure already and it continues to get more and more interesting. My luggage is still MIA but at least I am no longer MIA. I got into Colombia at about 5 this morning. I love being a stupid American in an airport all by myself. All the sisters are excited that I am here. I will be put into a trio. Please pray extra hard that they find my suitcase fast and that I will survive the day... Love all of you lots, have fun and I´ll chat with ya later!

Con amor, 

PS. Pdays for me are on Fridays, so not this Friday but next Friday I will be emailing. They only gave us a short amount of time today.

PSS It´s hard to type on a Spanish keyboard...