Thursday, June 28, 2012

Letter from Stacia dated 6/20/12

Hola Family!

I found some American stamps, so I can write you a letter.  Last week was a huge turning point for me.  I stopped focusing on everything I was doing wrong and that I wasn't good at and focused instead on what I am doing here - building the Lord's Kingdom.  I am starting to become ever so slightly in tune with the Spirit, and it is amazing.  I don't know if I told you this little story, but one day a thought came to me 'look for the scripture in D&C that talks about witnessing about the gospel two by two.'  So I started looking for it, but when I couldn't find it right away, I moved on to other things.  Later that day, in a lesson, the guy asked, "Why are missionaries always in groups of 2 or 3?"  So while Hermana Norton tried to answer it, I tried looking up the scripture again, and could not find it.  I felt like such a fool, but now I am trying to be super sensitive to any feeling I get.

I started reading the Book of Mormon in Provo and I just finished it! (With the exception of the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi - I still need to figure those out.)  I am surprised by how much I love reading that book and especially how I can apply it to my life - at home it was such a burden to read.  Hermana Norton and I constantly stop each other while studying and talk about awesome things that we find, and then our elders get into the discussion.  If my Sunday School classes could have been that effortless and rewarding, I would have loved that calling - I guess I still kind of loved it anyway.

I feel like just in the few short months I have been out here I have grown and learned a lot.  I keep finding amazing things I could have used in my farewell talk and I can't help but think how immature and unknowlegable I was back then.  Mom, I am like really mature.

Okay, that is not completely true.  Here at the CCM, they serve soft serve ice cream at some meals and the same cute, short Latino worker always serves it up and he is a huge flirt.  Well, this short Latino likes Hermana Norton and me and always gives us huge ice cream cones and all the elders get jealous.  So lately, it has been a competition between us and the elders to see who could flirt their way to the most ice cream - and some of the elders stoop so low.  But, in the end, Hermana Norton and I always sweet talk our way to victory.  When I get home, we can go to Coldstone and I'll show you how it is done!

I love the new Latina girls in my room.  They are so diligent.  They wake up at 5:30 every morning to study and get ready.  And they are big on making sure the light is out at 10:30 which I love since I am so tired every night.  They are hilarious.  One day I had a bunch of gel in my hair so it was really stiff and one of the Latinas, Hermana Bendon, came up to me and told me that my hair was too dry and that I needed to leave my conditioner on it for 5 minutes in the shower.... ever since she tells me how lovely my hair is.... I guess I won't be putting get in my hair the rest of the time in the CCM, I don't want another lecture.

The other day we were talking with our elders (our elders = our district) and we were saying that serving for only 18 months or 2 years is too short, and time is flying by too fast, and we are going to be home before we know it.

June 24, 2012         So, today is Sunday and you know how in Provo we had to prepare a talk and they randomly called people to give their talks?  Well, they do that here, and, of course, they called on me.  But this experience was such a different one than the one in Provo.  I actually wrote a talk rather than copying it out of Preach My Gospel.  And even though I felt it was coming - them asking me to speak - I wasn't freaking out.  I was actually happy for the opportunity, even though I probably sounded like a fool.  My companions still haven't given talks yet.  It is nice to have opportunities like this to be able to see just how far I have come because sometimes I feel like I am making no progress.  The man who called on me to speak, President Aleson, knows how hard the language has been for me, and when he called my name, he looked over at me to gage my reaction.  I am glad I can have a sense of humor about my shortcomings, or this whole experience would break me.

I got my first mission haircut - even though I could not communicate what I wanted, and a teacher, who is a punk, told the lady to cut it up to my chin.  It looks good - it was just a trim.

Yesterday was suppose to be another day teaching in Rimac.  In the morning and during personal study, I had a strong feeling that Hermana Norton and I would not be going.  We went throughout the morning, we were supposed to leave at two o'clock to Rimac, and Hermana Norton, who had been having a little pain in her head since Wednesday, felt she needed to see the doctor and in the end, we were unable to go.  I love the gift of the Holy Ghost.  If I could only take one thing away from my mission, it would be the importance of the Holy Ghost and how much it could bless our lives if we allow it.

I am really thankful for all the opportunities I have right now.  So far I love this experience a lot and there is nothing else I would rather be doing.

I love you all,

Hermana Stacia Ellis

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Extra time = extra email

Apparently, I have more time to email.  The pictures I sent in the last message was my district, my roommates and Hermana Norton and I in our pajamas - I wore her glasses so we would match.
Story about my health...
One day, my companions and I were not feeling well, headaches, stomach aches, and the such.  So, when the front office found out about it, one of the head ladies came into our classroom and started rubbing peppermint oil on our heads, saying it would get rid of the headache.  She then left and came back like 20 minutes later and pulled us out of class.  She gave us more oil to rub on our stomaches and then she gave us glasses of really warm water that she poured peppermint oil into.  It was the grossest thing in the entire world and it made me gag.  But they were really sweet about trying to make us feel better, I am really thankful.  I just hope I do not have to drink anymore oil in Ecuador.  But apparently that is how they do it in Peru.

Photo from 6/27/12

Ready to leave the CCM

And guess what, I am leaving to Ecuador THIS COMING Monday or Tuesday.  That is crazy.  I am still horrible at Spanish.  But I cannot wait to get out in the real world.  I love the CMM, but all this pretending to teach investigators is killing me.  They do not tell us our travel plans until like the day before we leave, so I cannot tell you what flight I am taking, but I will email you when I get to Ecuador... I think.
Some of our district left this week because they are getting a new mission president and so they wanted all the missionaries in that mission to get into the mission field before  the old president left so he could set up the first transfer.  It was so sad.  The last night they were here, we just talked about our missions in our classroom until they made us go to our rooms.  And when we got to our room, my companions and I, Hermana Giles and Norton (we got put together again) were so depressed.  Those elders are the best, and they took care of us so well.  The picture attached is of all of us setting our camera timers on and running for a picture.
I was thinking about how hard this mission has been, mostly my struggle with the Spanish language, and I was thinking about how different it would be if I picked up on the language right away.  I know I would have had a whole different experience and I would not have learned some of the stuff that I have learned.  And so, for that I am thankful.  But I hope that my Spanish comes along soon.  Very soon.  Like in the next five days, but I will even take the next five months.
And, before I forget, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHEY!!!  I know it is not for a few days, but be expecting a little something coming your way... If I can find the post office.
I love being out here, it is really hard, but I would not want to be anywhere else. 
I have to go, we are going to the temple, but I will talk to you later.
I love you all,
Hermana Stacia Ellis

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 20, 2012

Elder Christiansen.  I know him.  He is a really nice guy that was in my district in Provo, but not down here.
So my companionship got switched up, I am with Hermana Norton 24/7 as my only companion now, and I love it!  She is so great, and so awesome at Spanish.
This morning was an adventure.  After we went to the Temple, Hermana Norton and I went shopping then we decided to try to find the post office so we could send off letters and small packages (I have not forgotten about Cece - which, by the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DECLAN!!!!!) and so we started walking to where we thought the post office was.  Turns out we had no idea where the post office was and ended up alone in a quiet neighborhood of Lima.  We stopped.  Said a prayer that we would be able to accomplish why we were there.  And went on our way.  A short distance from where we said the pray a man pulled over in a Taxi car and asked if we needed a ride.  We said yes and got into his car.  He said he did not know exactly where the post office was, but since we knew which street it was on, he said we could just look for it.  After we had been driving for only a few seconds, I had a feeling like we needed to go back to the temple.  So I turned to Hermana Norton and asked her what she was feeling.  We decided to just head back to the temple, (which he knew how to get there).  And on the drive back, Hermana Norton started talking to him about the gospel and he had attended church a few time when he lived in a different city.  When we got to the temple, she gave him a pass along card and we hopped out while he just laughed at us.  It was crazy, and we did not make it to the post office, but we felt really good about the whole situation.
This past Sunday was Fast Sunday, and so, of course, I fasted for my Spanish (which is still really horrible).  The past few days, I did not know if I should study my scriptures or my Spanish because I felt like both were lacking so much.  But, while reading in the Book of Mormon, I came to 2 Nephi 32: 1-4.  Read it.  Not being able to speak Spanish very well had made me focus more on feeling the Spirit and following the impressions I get.  And it has been hard.  But I have had so many great experiences that I will write in a little letter for you all (I found some American stamps).  I think that not picking up on Spanish right away has been a real blessing as well as a huge discouragement.  But, luckily, the Lord has given Hermana Norton and me just enough success to make everything worth it.  I will explain more in my letter.
I do not know when Father's Day is, but HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, DAD!!!  I hope you have a great day (or had a great day)!  You are the best, and I am so thankful for you!!
Thank you!  I love you!!
Hermana Stacia Ellis

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June 13, 2012

I am not sure if I should tell you this or not, but Lima is expecting an earthquake that is expected to kill about 50,000 people, and so far, I have felt three earthquakes here.  The first two were really small, and the third one was small too, but stronger than the other too.  It was crazy.  One of the North American elders ran outside in fear of his life.  The rest of us just sat there....  But I survived!!  All three.
I went to a little city called Rimac on Saturday to teach REAL people outside the CCM.  It was crazy.  Last Thursday, my Latina companion and I were planning a lesson to teach to a man named Maguel.  Well, we started to have a little disagreement because she wanted us to sing to him, and I thought that was a horrible idea.  And so we were going back and forth on the subject, and then her eyes started to water.  She really wanted to sing to him... So I agreed that I would sing.  But luckily, while we were at his house, we did not sing at all.
While in Rimac, I got a lot of attention because I was white... Well, I am assuming that is why I was getting so much attention.  I was attracting drunks, guys who wanted to add me on Facebook, and guys who wanted me to read to them in English.  But, I had an easy experience, some elders were robbed, and some other elders were followed by some drunk men. 
In our last 20 minutes, my Latina companion and I were told to just go knock doors and so we did.  And we found this guy named Cristopher, AND HE LET US IN!!  He is just this 25 year old guy who cleans for a living and laughed at all my attempts at Spanish, but was really nice.  We told him all about the Plan of Salvation, gave him a Book of Mormon and got him to commit to reading it, and he told us that we, or other missionaries, could come back later.  What?!?!  My first time tracting and I got super lucky!!  I hope the rest of my mission is that good.
My Latina companion left yesterday, and it was really sad... She stayed up the last few nights she was here singing until like 11:00 at night...  It was torture.  She gave me a letter that another sister here translated into English for her.  It was so sweet.  I got a new companion today, but only met her in passing.  Out of Hermana Norton, Giles and I, I am the only one with a native companion for the next three weeks, Hermanas Norton and Giles are companions in and out of class.  Hermana Norton is so great!!  She can handle anything!!
Today, we went into Downtown Lima, and holy smokes, the buildings are beautiful!  All the European culture and such.  We went shopping, which was great!  I got a soccer jersey... Which brings me to my next subject, how good Hermana Norton and I are at soccer.  We have been playing with the elders, and we are awesome, and they claim it is only because they do not want to hurt us when we try to steal it from them, but we know better.
Okay, back to downtown... We went to a museum about the Spanish Inquisition and then just shopped... Well, we only had 35 minutes to shop... And then we went to Pizza Hut.  American food never tasted so good.
I still love it here.  Even though my Spanish is still horrible, and my hair is still always a disaster because of the humidity, I just love teaching people and getting to know all the missionaries here.
I hope all is well at home!

Apology for letters

I do not know if I will be able to use American stamps in Ecuador, so I will just email on Wednesday, tell everyone on my blog that I cannot send letters anymore and just read my lovely blog.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Email from 6/6/12

One day this past week, I was freaking out about a lesson that my native companion and I had to teach.  I did not know any Spanish words that pertained to the lesson, so I asked a elder from Chile who speaks English how to say VOCABULARY in Spanish so I could tell my companion that I did not have a strong vocabulary, but I would try to teach the best I could and she would probably have to help me a lot.  He said, Oh, you want to know what vocabulary is in Spanish? It is apio.  I thanked him and turned to go talk to my companion when it dawned on my that vocabulary in Spanish was vocabulario.  I turned back to the young man and asked him if he was sure apio was correct and he started laughing.  Apparently, he almost made me go tell my companion that "Sorry, I do not have the CELERY for this lesson, but I will try."  She would have thought I was so much more dumb that I really am at Spanish.
This is the same elder who one night at dinner asked me "Hermana Ellis, why you always throwing jokes at me?" (after I greeted him as el diablo)... And I think the story above solves that little question.  There is another native elder here whose favorite past time apparently is coming up with random deals he can make with me, and most of them are not in his favor.  Like the other day, he made a deal that if I let him use my English scriptures he would beat box for me....  Fool.  I would have let him use my scriptures for nothing.  He still has not beat boxed for me though, so maybe I am the fool.
Everything here is going great.  I was sick and had to go see a doctor, but no worries, it was just a doctor who was like a medical missionary from England with his wife.  We have had a few sick days here, me and my companions, but we are all better!
I still feel discouraged about the language, but I was finally able to talk to my companion in Spanish and plan a lesson!  That was huge!!  She was so excited I could speak to her, and she just kept saying how great I was doing at Spanish even though I am not doing that well.  The CCM president, President Cardon says that I am doing a lot better than I think I am doing.
My native companion, Hermana Lepez is really struggling, and wants to go home... It has been really hard.  But she is toughing it out, and if she sticks around, she will be off to the mission field this coming Tuesday.  The time with our native companions has gone by so fast.  We all really love all these native missionaries so much, all the hermanas and the elders are so great.
Remember that one Sunday morning after I talked to the high council, Mom?  And I was saying how nervous I was about being companions with a certain person/type of person?  IT IS KILLING ME!!!!  I feel like the worst person because I am so annoyed.  I am failing at having Christlike love for all people. I am praying for more love for my fellow men.  That is all I will say about that... There is more about it in a letter I recently sent home...  Sorry in advance about my negative thoughts!
There have been some really amazing things happen here, they are a lot harder to write about than all my fun stories, though.  There are lessons that we walk into and my mind is filled with Spanish words, and not just ANY Spanish words, words that pertain to the lesson!!  It has been so wonderful.  And in the short time I have been here in the CCM, I have had the most amazing spiritual experiences and realizations.  And I am so thankful that Hermana Norton is here and she does not mind hearing all my stories and thoughts.
Today we went to the temple and then did a little shopping, next week we are actually going into Lima to a market and shopping with President and Hermana Cardon.  I am really excited!!  I will tell you more about it next week.
Love you all,
Hermana Ellis