Newport News 4-29-13

Oh man. This has been a heck of a week! Actually, it’s been only four days, so that makes it extra crazy. I have so much I want to tell you and so little time, so I’m just going to word vomit for the next 30 minutes and pray you can make sense out of it. So the first day was crazy. Our flight was delayed in Atlanta for an hour so we ended up arriving late here. Yaknow that feeling when you’re standing in line for a roller coaster and they announce that they’re having technical difficulties so they’re doing some work on it first and they’re really sorry but it’s going to be a little longer…and you really want to get on that ride so you wait in line anyway…and then they finally announce it’s ready…and you realize you’re going to be the first one to try out this roller coaster that they just “fixed” (hopefully)? Well that’s sort of the feeling you get when they announce that at the airport. So the two hour flight with “light to moderate” turbulance caused moderate to heavy damage on my nerves. Es cualquier. Anyway, we arrived safely and the mission president and his wife and the Assistants to the President were there to greet us. They took us to the stake center where the senior missionaries spoiled us with the best food I’d eaten in 6 weeks. We then had a meeting and slept at the mission home. The next morning we had a transfer meeting where we were put with our trainers and areas. The president told me the night before that he felt very strongly about the companion and area I was to be put in, so the Lord has something for me to do. Anyway, I was put with my companion, who is a native speaker from Mexico, so I was really lucky there, and we were sent to open an area in Newport News. So we arrived at Newport New and met our district, (they’re so great) and our roommates, with whom we share a one person apartment. It’s really crammed and we had been sleeping on the floor until the Zone Leaders came and fixed our bunk beds. So we spent half of the first day cleaning the apartment. I wish I had taken a before/after picture. It’s amazing. So the living situation has been a little stressful, but we’re moving to a different apartment in a couple weeks so it won’t be that much longer. Back to the area. Although we’re opening the area, it’s only because we’re rearranging it a little to make room for all of us here. We have, wait for it, 7 missionaries in our branch. The branch. I think there were maybe 30 members there this Sunday. Including us, and the 5 elders. There had previously been one companionship here, so this all pretty much happened the day I arrived. This area has been struggling for a long time. And it’s not for lack of effort. Our District Leader has been here for the past 6 months and it sounds like they’ve been working their tails off to “plant a lot of seeds.” Every night since we’ve been here we’ve been fed dinner at a member’s home. All seven of us. They always insist on feeding us all at one time. They’re great. Anyway, last night we ate dinner at the Stake President’s house, whose family is extremely missionary minded and they’ve been attending the Spanish branch lately to help out. We had our spiritual thought after and it turned into a discussion on how much this area is just waiting to explode and has been for the past 6 months. It’s amazing the faith of the people here. The Elders that have been here longer said that they’ve struggled for a long time and have been praying and fasting for their work to pay off and they said that as soon as they got the call from the Mission President that we (the Hermanas) were coming, they knew that their prayers had been answered. And last night when we reported our numbers to the District Leader for the week, he was shocked. He was so excited that we had had so much success already and said that he thinks this is the time when we are finally going to harvest all of those seeds that have been planted for so long. The Lord has big plans for this area. I can’t wait. My first day in the field we had a little extra time before a dinner appointment since the investigator we had gone to see wasn’t home, so we knocked some doors in the area. About 4 doors in we were about to run out of time but decided to knock one last one. We saw two hispanic kids playing in front of a trailer and decided to talk to them. We asked them to get their mom and she came out. We started to share our message with her and her face just lit up. She was so receptive. She said she never comes to the door for people that knock but she felt differently this time and didn’t know why at first but thought that she could see God in us and that her prayers were answered. We shared almost the entire first lesson with her right then and there. When I finished telling her about the First Vision, she said that she believed everything we were saying. She believed in prophets in the Bible so why couldn’t we have prophets today if God loves us? I couldn’t believe how prepared she was to hear our message. She committed to start reading and praying about el Libro de Mormon and we made an appointment for this week, so hopefully she will have followed through on that. And last night the same thing happened and we had a little extra time to knock doors from an appointment falling through. We found two families who were very excited about the Gospel and we have appointments with both of them, and a reference to visit from one. After that we tried to find another investigator, who, you guessed it, wasn’t home, and instead found a woman who was baptized a year ago but hasn’t been to church since because of health problems and she thought that everyone had forgotten about her. Little miracles. It hasn’t all been success, and actually most of it hasn’t been successful, but each time we are trying our best to do what the Lord wants us to and our plans don’t work out, something better comes along and it all happens for a reason. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here. It’s been a real challenge, but amazing nonetheless and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love and miss all ya’ll. Thank you for your prayers and support.

 
Love,
Hermana Karson

MTC Week 6

So this was a pretty crazy week. There were definitely some miracles that happened. First off, this was our last week as a district together. So we had a bunch of stuff planned for Sunday like pictures and a testimony meeting and stuff, and our last class together on Saturday. Then Wednesday we had a wrench thrown in our plans as Elder Jeffe (Jefferson), got his visa and was to leave for Peru the next morning. That’s about how things work around here for the international missionaries (yay for stateside). So we had to throw a bunch of last minute things together and send off our first District leader by himself. After that our district wasn’t complete and the rest of the week was just kinda waiting for everyone else to leave. So a sad few days for sure. Then Wednesday, I’m sorry I forgot to mention it in my last e-mail, I sang a solo for the new missionary orientation meeting. I had to audition for it a couple weeks ago and then I got a notice in the mail saying when to show up. They had a little mix up and ended up having to put all of the new missionaries in the same meeting instead of splitting them into two rooms like they usually do, so I sang for about 800 people. It was pretty crazy. I think that’s the biggest crowd I’ve ever performed in front of. I sang Come Thou Fount, and it ended up going alright. I was worried because I’d had a cold and didn’t want to crack on the high notes. But it went alright. After that I thought I was recovering from my cold, but turns out no such luck. The next morning I woke up and didn’t have a voice at all. The day after that I still couldn’t speak, so I went to the doctor and he said I had a pretty good viral infection and my body fighting it so hard gave me laryngitis. So I spent Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and most of Sunday as a mute. Not fun. It was a nice excuse not to have to talk in class for the first two days, and on Friday my companion and I got to leave the MTC for little bit to go to the pharmacy at BYU, but after that I was tired of not being able to communicate. Saturday I started to get really worried that I wouldn’t be better in time to leave, and the doctor told me that if I wasn’t better by Monday that I may have to stay. So my whole district was praying that I’d get better and be able to leave. Sunday I woke up without a voice still, but as we went through the day it started to get better. It’s tradition in our branch for the departing district to sing a musical number in sacrament meeting, so we had prepared to sing Abide With Me, ’Tis Even’tide, which was kinda our theme song, but since I couldn’t sing I was a little left out. So Saturday evening Hermana Trentman and I switched so she would sing and I would accompany us on the piano instead. I hate accompanying, but I was grateful to be a part of it. Also, each week in Sacrament meeting 2 missionaries are called on the spot to go up and give a talk in Spanish. The Branch President had hinted to me that morning that I’d better get my voice back by 2 or I’d have to use big cards, so I was really nervous that I was going to have to speak. As they made the announcement that Hnas Young and Laudie were speaking this week, I thanked the Branch President in sign language on the stand and he pointed at me and said you’re welcome. The branch presidency got a real kick out of that..I’m still not sure why actually. But afterward he said that I was supposed to speak and got out of it because I was “fake sick.” So that was a perk. Last night we planned on having a departing testimony meeting as a district and just a little before, I finally got my voice back, even though it was really rough and quiet. So I was able to share my testimony with my district right before we all split up. Pretty amazing. It’s crazy how close we all got in just six weeks. 3 of us, including my companion, left this morning, and 3 more leave in a few hours. One leaves tomorrow, and 2 of us leave Wednesday (me). The last is waiting for his visa and will leave sometime in the next week or so. I’m outta time but can’t close without a funny quote, so this week is featuring Elder Anderson. During class our teacher was trying to get us excited to study subjunctive, so he was jumping up and down. Elder Anderson said, “There are many things that bring joy in my life, and one of them is men jumping.” He tried to fix it by explaining what he meant, but there was no saving it. So anyway. I’ve gotta go, but I love all of you. Take care and I’ll talk to you very soon! Next time you hear/read from me I’ll be in Virginia! Be safe and obedient!
 
Love,
 
Hermana Karson
Posted in MTC

MTC Week 5

Only 9 days left here! I can’t believe it. It feels like we’ve lived here for about a year already so it’s weird that next week is really only the start of my mission. I’m nowhere near confident in Spanish or my teaching skills, but I can’t wait to do some real work. We have 4 investigators we are teaching lessons to now, and it’s kinda difficult to focus on each of them. Even though two of them are another companionship in our district and the other two are our teachers and we know they all already have the knowledge of the gospel, we still take it very seriously and it’s amazing to see how much we start to genuinely care and pray about these “investigators” to come closer to Christ and gain testimonies of His church. It scares me a little to think about how much pressure I’m going to feel to do everything right when they are real investigators who are actually searching for the truth in their lives. So it’s started to hit me this last week how hard missionary work is, but I love it so much. It’s amazing how fast the Lord is “hastening his work.” We had the opportunity to listen to a speaker yesterday at devotional who works for the media communications department of the Church, and it was amazing. He introduced a lot of the new campaigns that the Church is doing in London and New York to help inform people about what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is really about, instead of letting rumors cloud their vision. It’s really amazing the feedback that they’ve gotten and how people’s perceptions of the Church have changed just by getting information from the right sources. He told us how they’re doing some trial runs with missionaries in Great Britain by allowing them to use Twitter and other social media sites to answer people’s questions and get referrals of people who want to learn more about the Gospel. He explained how all of the work he does with media communications is proof of the work being hastened and how awesome it is that we have the opportunity as missionaries to be a part of it. I really do feel so blessed to be a missionary at this time. So much is changing and it’s really exciting to watch it all happen. This week I think I’ve caught my second wind and I’m absolutely stoked to give my whole heart, might, mind, and strength to the work of the Lord. I’m almost out of time, but no e-mail would be complete without the funny moments that remind me just how much I love my district. This week’s funny spotlight is all on Elder Fa’asa. Is anyone surprised? One day my companion and I had left the room and came back to find that Elder Fa’asa had used my lip gloss. Yeah. When I asked him about it he denied it at first, but it’s become pretty easy to recognize his guilty/lying face, so I kept asking him until he admitted that it was just lying on my desk (no it wasn’t, it was in my bag), and his lips were really chapped (then why didn’t he use his chapstick?), Elder Anderson told him he could (no he didn’t), he used his finger (guilty/lying face again), and he put it right back when he was done (then how did he find it “on my desk” and put it back where he found it in my bag?). Yeah. It’s about 20 times funnier with a picture, so I’ll try to send one later with him and his shiny pink lips. I’m probably going to have to do situps or something when I leave to make up for all the ab-workouts I won’t be getting from laughing so hard when our district is all split up. Well, my time is almost gone, so I’ll talk to y’all next week! Be safe. Love y’all.

 
Love,
Hermana Karson
Posted in MTC

MTC Week 4

Pretty much I’m at the MTC at the best time possible. Easter was last week and this weekend was General Conference. It was amazing. The Spirit here was so strong. Pretty much all we did Saturday and Sunday was eat, watch conference, eat again, watch some more conference, eat one more time, then talk about conference and go to bed. It was so great though. It was really easy to pay attention to the messages of the speakers and to get a lot out of it, because everyone else wanted to listen just as much. Our teachers encouraged us to go with questions written down that we wanted answers to. I’d never done that before, but after this Conference I seriously recommend it. I got answers in one way or another to every single question I came with. One answer came in the exact wording as the question I had written down. Pretty amazing stuff. We all got really excited when the numbers were read that we have over 65,000 missionaries right now! How awesome. Many speakers mentioned the prophesies of old being fulfilled as we are bringing the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people like a “stone cut out of the mountain without hands.” It’s truly a blessing to be part of that fulfillment. I also found that a major theme of this Conference was obedience. My Branch President says, “Obedience brings blessing. Strict obedience brings miracles.” I really believe that. My favorite talks were Pres. Henry B. Eyering’s and Pres. Deiter F. Uchtdorf’s. If you missed either one of them, PLEASE go back and read/watch it. It’ll be worth it. Promise.
After General Conference ended yesterday we were able to have our Sunday evening devotional with very special guests. Drumroll please…..BYU’s Vocal Point! I was so excited. They came and sang a few songs and gave a little advice for our missions as they are all RM’s. It was pretty great. It made me really want their new CD, but unfortunately the bookstore here doesn’t sell it. If you haven’t listened to it yet, you definitely should. So moving on before I turn into an infomercial, did you see that the combined BYU choirs sang at Conference?? How awesome is that! However, I was really hoping that the MTC choir would sing. Kinda ironic that as soon as I leave the BYU choir to sing in the MTC choir they get to perform for Conference. I was a little jealous, but then I got over it and was just proud. It was so awesome. Everyone here was so impressed at how good they sounded. That’s right. BYU choirs are pretty much just the best. And I hope ya’ll remembered that they did a feature on the MTC choir in between sessions and you watched/recorded it! They didn’t show it in the overflow room we were in, so I didn’t get to see it, but I heard it was good so I hope you were able to! Anyway, I don’t have much time left so I’ll just get onto the funny stuff before I go. Featured this week in our memorable quotes corner is, Elder Fa’asa, Elder DuFour, and Elder Jefferson. First, E. Fa’asa came into class one day with a rubber snake. When asked where he got it, he replied, “I made a friend in the hall and she gave it to me.” He called it, “the serpent on the mount.” Haha. We had a good laugh about that. Then we heard a girl in the hall say, “where is the Elder that stole my snake?” Ha. We made him give it back. Then, Elder Jefferson, in an effort to keep our classroom sanitary and germ-free, opened the door to sneeze outside in the hall…just as two sisters were walking by. Oops. Last but not least, Elder DuFour, while attempting to thank another district for the use of their classroom, tried to say “gracias por su cuarto,” which means, “thank you for your room,” but actually said, “gracias por su cuerpo,” which means, “thank you for your body.” Thank goodness they were Korean speaking. Yep. Gotta love District D. We’re getting closer and closer to our departure date, so pray that we learn everything else we need real soon! I love ya’ll. Thanks for the letters and support. I hope you have an awesome week.

Love,

Hermana Karson

Posted in MTC

MTC Week 3

I’ve just been informed that my Spanish is so stinkin’ good that they’re sending me straight to the field tomorrow. Actually, April Fools. I probably could have come up with a more believable fib, but my Spanish is still super rough. And I can’t believe it’s only been three weeks, but at the same time, I can’t believe I’m already half-way done with the MTC and will be leaving this month! We got a new district in our zone this last week and my whole district was wondering: “were we that lost when we first came?” But they’re really nice and they’re already a great addition to our zone.
This week was pretty rough for me. We received a new investigator named Walter. He doesn’t talk much, and our first lesson with him was a complete flop. We really struggle coming up with the right things to say and ask the investigators, so it’s really tough getting to know them and forming a relationship. It was no different with Walter. We had planned on spending most of the time getting to know him so we could get a grasp on his “hook,” or what would really catch his attention about the gospel. Because we didn’t know what his needs were, we figured we would kinda wing it and make up a lesson according to his needs as we found them. So yes, you read right. We didn’t prepare a lesson. We went in for the first lesson and just couldn’t seem to get anything out of him. I was really struggling with the language that lesson, probably more than I have in any lesson so far. I just could not seem to say anything that made sense. Finally I gave up and we left the lesson without teaching him any new doctrine, without finding our how he felt about religion or God, leaving him with any committments or anything to think about, or most importantly, without bringing the Spirit. We basically just wasted 20 minutes of his life and the Lord’s time. I think I hit a low after that. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. Why couldn’t I remember anything I had learned? I’d always done my best to be obedient to the rules, and make the most of my study time, and always prayed for the Spirit to guide me. It was a really rough few days. I was so frustrated and couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong. Then one of the teachers, who was actually not even my assigned teacher pulled me aside, and after letting me blubber to him for a little while, kindly explained that it wasn’t about me. The most important thing I could do in a lesson was not to know how to teach the lesson in proper Spanish, but to bring the Spirit so that the investigator could start to make his/her own relationship with God. He chastised me a little bit for being prideful, which was a shock to me because I thought, “how on earth am I being prideful when I am so low?” But he helped me realize that pride isn’t always thinking you’re better than everyone else. It’s thinking about you more than everyone else. After that little wake-up call I tried my best to turn myself around. My companion and I prepared 139873456 times as much for Walter’s second lesson. We planned for days before the appointment. We spend every extra second planning and praying for Walter. We even finished our meals early in order to prepare for it. And it totally payed off. We went into the lesson yesterday with 20 minutes worth of material prepared about the Plan of Salvation. It was a dang good lesson if I don’t say so myself. We prayed earnestly before going in that we would know what he needed to hear. As soon as we got in we got to know him and his needs and we didn’t give up until we finally found his “hook.” He completely opened up to us and it was amazing. So while my companion was saying the opening prayer, I silently prayed again to know what to do. I remembered that verse in D&C that explains how we can know something is wrong because we will have a stupor of thought. After that, I could not remember a single thing I was supposed to say in our lesson. I panicked for a second, then the story of Alma the younger came to mind. I had no idea why. But as soon as the prayer was over, I told him that we had prepared to teach him about the Plan of Salvation, and we still would like to, but for this lesson, I felt it was more important to talk about prayer. He then opened up about how he didn’t feel good enough to pray to God because of all the mistakes he had made in his life and how God didn’t want to hear from him. Then I shared the story of Alma the younger and read the verses about how he was delivered from his guilt-by calling on the name of the Lord. He thought about that for a moment and said that he thought he understood. Then he asked, “Do you think God can forgive me too?” We wanted to cry we were so happy. We then explained about repentance and how we can be clean from sin. I shared a scripture from Mosiah 26:22. After reading it, he said, “So I can be clean by being baptized?” Then my companion and I looked at each other and she asked him to follow the example of Christ and be baptized. He explained that he didn’t know everything about our church, but he knew he felt good when we talked and that he wanted to be clean again, so he would really like to be baptized. So we promised to help him prepare for it! He was so excited. And I finally felt that joy that comes from bringing someone joy. Amazing. I want every lesson to be like that. I know that we were blessed in that lesson because we prepared so hard. Even though we didn’t use anything we had planned, we showed the Lord that we were serious and he blessed us with revelation when we needed it the most. So this week was great. Also….yesterday was Easter! We had a pretty great day hearing messages about the resurrected Christ. Our district read the last few chapters of Luke together and the Spirit was so strong. It really testified to me that Jesus is the Christ, and that he atoned for my sins and rose again the third day so that I can return to Him again. What a blessing to know this! Sheri Dew came and spoke to us in the evening, which was also pretty great. She is such an inspirational woman. The MTC is just so great! Well I’m pretty much out of time, but before I close, I just have to share the funny quotes from this week. There are lots, but I’ll share my favorites. Whenever someone says something sassy to Elder Fa’asa, he replies with the warning: “Hey Elder so-and-so (usually Elder Anderson), why is your eye black?” Ha it would be really scary since he’s a huge Samoan guy, but he’s such a teddy bear that everyone just cracks up. Then, I came into a conversation between Elder Jefferson and Hermana Joven and the wrong time, and heard Elder Jefferson say “yeah they’re like, my kids.” If I had been eavesdropping sooner I would have know he was talking about his sisters, but then I asked him “How many kids do you have?” and he replied with, “6.” Ha we got a kick out of that one. For clarification’s sake, Elder Jefferson is not and had never been a father. And last one. Elder Jefferson had gotten into a habit of saying “En farto. Es Verdad” to everything. We asked him what he was trying to say and he said it meant “In fact. It’s true.” We were pretty sure “en farto” didn’t mean in fact. But he said he heard it on a spanish tv show so it had to be right. So after asking a few people, we actually found out that he had been going around telling everyone, “Heart attack. It’s the truth.” He was sooo embarrassed haha. Good thing practically no one here actually understands enough Spanish to know that his new catch phrase was heart attack. Ha. Anyway, I love my district.
Well, that’s pretty much all I have time for this week, but there will most definitely be much more to share next week! I hope everyone is doing well and I can’t wait to hear back! Love y’all!
Love,
Hermana Karson

Posted in MTC