Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 19: "You're like a mom!"

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Week 18 A Miracle from Above... Literally!

Hola mis queridas familia y amigos!

I was sitting in church yesterday when I realized it was Sunday. It felt like only the day before was Tuesday... I am running out of time!

We spent 3 days with Hna. Gummersall (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday). It was fun to be in a trio and teaching was a breeze but we were super busy all day. We had 8 appointments and a baptismal interview. It was a pretty crazy day. We were running to appointments.

It rained! What?? I was told that it does not rain in La Costa... Well, it does... Thankfully, the times that it was raining hard, we were inside teaching. After a full day of lessons, weekly planning, being stuff with chicken and rice, and all the other usual activities of a missionary, we took Hna. Gummersall to the terminal to get her companion, Hna Silva, who was coming from Quito. We ended up waiting an hour and a half in the terminal. They came home with us instead of going to their sector because we had meetings in the morning, they would have had to come back anyways, it was late, and it would have been another 2 hours by bus.

I really enjoyed today's training. We talked about being disciples of Christ. In 3 Nephi 5:13 talks about being called to as a disciple. We are all children of our Heavenly Father but we are disciples when we decide to follow Christ. The only question that remains is what kind of disciple do we want to be?

Old people are just so cute. Can I just say that? We have a recent convert who is about to reach his one year mark and he is seriously the cutest 80 year old. He is not quite all there but he knows about when the missionaries are going to visit him so he asks his granddaughter to buy a soda or something so that he can give it to us. He is so sweet. Later in the day, we gave 2 tours of the chapel. It is a lot of fun to do tours and you can always feel the Spirit so strong. On our way back to the house, we passed by one of the member's homes who's daughter was having her quinceñera. We could not stay for the party but it was fun to see all the decorations.

We had a baptism today! Well, techinically 2 but one of the does not count for us since Isa is 8 years old. We are working with her dad to become fully reactivated. Bryan looked so happy for his baptism. It was a great night.

I love Sundays here because every Sunday, a different family gets up and sings a hymn for breaking up the talks. They are not very good singers but you still cannot help but smile. We tried visiting everybody but no one was home!! Later, when we got home, we did not have electricity! It was an interesting night. Thankfully, our neighbor who lives above, tried so hard to help fixed our problem and gave us candles so that we were not in the dark. She is the best! In the morning, she made phone calls and checked on us to make sure everything was ok. We have power now and all is good in the world!

That is pretty much it for this week! It has been a crazy one but I love it here all the same. (Still dying from the heat... I sweat 20 pounds and then they feed me 20 pounds...)

Enjoy your week and hope to hear from you soon!
Hermana Duff

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 17 pictures new companion & La Costa apartment's view... I'm thinking


Week 17 A La Costa?!

Hey there all my friends and family!

Can I just start this letter with never before have I been so excited to take a cold shower in my entire life?? As the title says, I am in La Costa! It is a little weird to be here because when I first came to the mission, I was told that they did not allow hermanas from North America to come to La Costa because it is dangerous... That being said... Here we go!

I flew all day Monday and got to Quito around 11pm without problems this time! ;) Hahaha Pres. Richardson and the assistants picked me up from the airport and dropped me off at the house of the enfermera. There were 3 hermanas that had completed their missions and were leaving at 3:30 in the morning.  Let us just say that I did not get much sleep that night...

I studied with Hma Pemberton and Hma Garcia in the morning like usual and then they dropped me off at the chapel Iñaquito. I ate lunch with the new missionaries and then had an interview with presidente. He tried to figure out what to do with me (I almost had to do orientation again, thankfully not). It was decided that I would go work with Hma. Hull in her sector. It was awesome to see her since I had not see her since the CCM. We visited a few people but what really got me was when we visited an inactive hermano. His name is Alejandro and it was fun to joke with him. While bearing my testimony at the end, I could see in his eyes that he could feel the spirit. It was a great lesson and a great reminder of why I fought so hard to come back here.

We went about the normal studies in the morning and then had lunch with a mamita that lived in the sector of the elders. It was really weird because the mamita did not eat with us and did not talk to us, we just walked in, ate, and left without saying anything because this is how the mamita likes it. I have no clue why but it made me a little sad. Later on, an hermano bought us a ton of quimbolitos. It ended up being a good day.

Back to Quito! We took the Metro back to Quito. The thing about the Metro is that everyone packs onto these long buses and if you do not push your way in, you will not get on. I almost fell off the platform but a gentleman behind me helped make sure that did not happen. We got back to the Iñaquito chapel and I chatted with Hma. Williamson and Hma. Naylor while the new missionaries received a chat about money and health in the mission. Hmo. and Hma. Williamson go home within the next few weeks which is sad but they are excited to see their grandkids, so all is well. I was assigned to serve in La Costa with Hma. Castro! I was really shocked that I was going there because I had just got done telling my mom that they do not send hermanas norteamericanas to La Costa but here I am to stay for a while. We hopped on a bus and after 7 hours, we arrived at our home. It is a really nice apartment. They just recently changed our apartment because the other one did not receive wáter ever. Thank goodness we have our new home.

It is so hot in La Costa, I am melting! The humidity here is crazy and I vowed that I will never live where there is a ton of humidity after the mission. We had our weekly meeting and I found out that El. Rojo and El. Herrera are in my district and that Hma. Beltran is in my zone again. They were all shocked that I was back because they honestly did not think that I would be able to come back. I was made English tutor for my district which means every week, I check the Latinos progress with their English, teach a small lesson, and email their results every week. It is super easy and should be fun (have to bribe them of course). We ate lunch with Hma. Montaño who was recently made Stake Relief Society president. The first thing she said when she saw me was how tall I was. I get that all the time and always here, mira una gringa! It kind of gets old but I will survive. It had been quite a while since my sector had a gringa hermana.

We visited a bunch of people today. People love to give us popsicles, crackers, and coke! We are always given some sort of snack. It is their way of life to give whoever comes little treats, especially if they like the missionaries.

Church was a fun experience... Sort of... Everyone welcomed me with open arms and lots of comments about how white I am. We had a family who is now considered fully active! They had their interview and told us that they are planning on being sealed in the temple in December!! Que chévere! Relief society was not so much fun. They like to have the missionaries participate a lot in church but I did not fully understand the question that the teacher had asked me. I was pretty embarassed. Afterwards, a sister who served a mission and spoke English very well, came up and apologized for not helping. She felt awful but I told her not to worry, that one day, I will understand. After church, we had lunch with a family, who´s son recently returned from a mission in Peru. It was fun to compare missions and experiences. Afterwards, we gave a tour of the church to our investigator, Brian, who is getting baptized this Saturday! He is so excited for his baptism! It is awesome!

Monday (today)
For our zone, there are only 3 sets of hermanas and the next zone over, there are not any, so we only have one hermana líder. She had to go to Quito this morning for meetings and had to leave her companion with us, Hma. Gummersall. We just go about our normal routine with her and have had a pretty relax Pday.

Yep. That is my week... It is a little weird to be back but I love it here! The rule here, at least for hermanas is that we have to be in our apartment at 8, no later than 8:30. Things here are done a little bit differently but it is still fun and the people still love feeding us tons of rice.

Until next time,
The Strawberry Blonde Hermana

PS. Thanks for all the love and support! :)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Called to Serve… Round 3???

Hey guys!
Yep, the title says it all again. I am going back! (again) I can see it now, there are so many eyes rolling and questions popping into people’s minds of “She’s going again?” and “How long is she going to make it this time??”. I know, people are probably really frustrated with this story of my adventures but hey, I find it quite hilarious. So much has happened since I began this journey eight months ago and I have learned a lot about myself (mostly how stubborn I can be).
I have gotten the question many times since being home, are you going back? Why? Why would I try to go back after being sent home again? Why on God’s green earth would I want to go back to a place where somehow I cannot manage to make it a month without getting hurt? Why would I want to hop on a bunch of planes for 11 hours? Why would I want to risk getting bit by another dog? Why would I want to have many people reject such a happy message I have? Why? It does not make sense.
Familia Rivadeneira
 Here is the answer: I fell in love. I fell in love with a people who welcomed me with open arms and called me one of their own. I fell in love with the feeling I felt when I saw a smile on a tear stained face. I fell in love with giving service day in and day out. I fell in love with the feeling of complete exhaustion from walking all day and helping others with their overwhelming piles of laundry. I fell in love with the spirit that I felt as I trudged through dusty streets. I fell in love with the deeper understanding of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and that I could share this with others. I fell in love with the feeling of being closer to my Savior. Why would I give up on that so easily?
Familia Dominguez
I know it is hard for some people to understand. It is weird what an LDS missionary does on a daily basis: doors slammed in our faces, people not being home, and people telling us that the do not want to listen anymore. I will not lie that sometimes being a missionary was really discouraging, sometimes heartbreaking. But! In my time of being home for 3 months, I have been told by many of the people that I met down in Yaruqui, that it was worth my time.   
Teaching Veronica, Oscar, and Kely
Why are they letting me go back with the doctor down in Quito so adamantly stating the need of knee surgery? In the first month of me being home, I met with two highly reputable knee surgeons who both looked at my knees. They said that I was born this way (I had to) or as Dr. Waters likes to put it, I got screwed over in the genetics department (his words, not mine). The best way to describe my knee condition is how my physical therapist explained it: most patellas (knee caps) are like eggs in bowls. The egg moves around but for the most part stays in place. The way my knees formed (thank you genetics… not!), my patellas are like eggs sitting on plates where they move a lot and yes, sometimes fall off the plate. Solution: yes lots of different types of surgery or lots of physical therapy and constant upkeep of the thigh/calf muscles. Both surgeons said that it is best to avoid knee surgery as long as possible and take the physical therapy route. But wait, is that not what I did last time and now I am sitting at home? Yes but the focus was on a different problem last time (an inflamed ligament causing swelling in the knee which caused the patella to become unstable). This time the focus was strengthening inner thigh muscles to help pull the patella into the right spot. Now I have been given a bunch of knee exercises to continually strengthen those muscles… Work, work, work… (I sound so smart with all of this anatomy. My two semesters of Anatomy and Physiology are worth something after all!)
Brooks at Foothills Physical Therapy
What did I do in my time while I was at home?
My best friend Delanie was sealed in the Boise temple!

My friends Max and Sydni were sealed in the Boise temple!

We celebrated Brittany's birthday at Tablerock with Smokey the Bear

I went to Yellowstone with my family

I did quite a bit of babysitting and even a little chicken sitting.

I hung out with friends and went to institute

I saw friends from high school

I tutored friends learning English
I spent time with one of my best friends, Kaeleigh

Sometimes did my hair

Goofed off a ton

My little neighbor girls for Halloween

My friend Kenzie got back from serving her mission in New York and then she got engaged... :)

Sister Husher, Sister Dale, and I did splits

I became slightly obsessed with dinosaurs

Some days were really hard being home because I was getting emails from all my friends in the mission field and I really wanted to be there. I got a little depressed. Other days, I was starting to become accustomed to being home and almost changed my mind. As time went on, fewer and fewer people thought that I would go back out and that I should start getting life together. Every time I tried to set something up, it either did not work out or did not feel right.

Have I learned anything with all this time being home? Yes. Aligning my will with the Lord’s will is probably a lot harder than anything else I can imagine (there is that stubbornness again). I wanted to go. I wanted to serve. I wanted to be with my friends. I wanted my plan for my life to go according to plan. I wanted. I wanted. I wanted. Was I not on the Lord’s errand? That is the hard thing, stopping and realizing that my plan might be good but Heavenly Father has a better plan for my life that will get me to where I want to go and be who I want to be. Being headstrong makes this really hard, putting my life and my faith into someone else’s hands. It all goes back to the talk about the Currant Bush by Elder Hugh B. Brown, a talk that I was given back in the MTC. I keep reading this talk over and over again. It still has not quite stuck. One day, I hope I will be able to look back and be able to see that even though I did not get to grown into the beautiful shade tree that I wanted to be, I still have worth because I am a fruitful currant bush.

Anyways... So there you have it, I am going. I am leaving. I am fleeing the country as some of my friends have said it. I am returning to the mission life. I am so grateful for all the love and support that I have felt from my friends, family, and other random strangers who decided to give me their two cents on the situation that I call my mission. And for those who are wondering, I swore to my stake president when he was resubmitting my papers again that I would not attempt to go out again if I ended up getting sent home again. (He told me that he would not let them send me home but tell them to leave me on the border or something until I am better.) Wish me luck!

Until next time,
The Strawberry Blonde Hermana

Ps. Feel free to email me!
Pss. One day things will work out and if not, it is not over yet!